When your clients are involved in an Illinois real estate transaction where ownership is unclear due to title issues, it can lead to potential lawsuits with people claiming to have rights to that property. It’s important that real estate brokers understand that these issues can be resolved using a quiet title action. Here we explain what a quiet title action is and why it may be a necessary action to take when title is in doubt.
What is Quiet Title?
Quiet title provides clarity through a legal action to establish ownership, usually when there are title defects or multiple claims to a title. The term “quiet” is used as the intention of the proceeding is to quiet other claims and title discrepancies to the property, allowing the true owner to obtain title of their property.
When is Quiet Title Action Used?
Quiet title actions are often considered the best way to resolve title issues if they cannot be resolved amicably. It is commonly used in Illinois residential real estate disputes to establish free-and-clear ownership. However, it is also used when there are issues that arise when there is a property title search. Some common scenarios might include:
- Inherited property transactions to ensure the inheritor is in fact the titleholder and does have the right to sell the property.
- Cases where there are outstanding liens on the property that are actually incorrect and appear due to administrative errors (this is more common for foreclosed properties).
- Quitclaim deeds used to transfer property within a family or due to marriage where a spouse is added to a title and titles are unclear.
- Easement issues like shared entries or driveways.
- Incorrect surveys or property boundary challenges.
- Any form of error in the deed.
- Previous claims of ownership following situations, such as an estate sale or probate.
- Prior liens, like mortgage disputes where public records of payment are questioned or missing.
While these are the common cases where quiet title actions are used, there are many others that can arise.
Who Handles Quiet Title Actions?
This is a legal conflict, and although it is hoped it will remain amicable, it can still lead to litigation. Therefore, working with a real estate attorney experienced in quiet title actions is advised. They understand the title process and will review all the documents and records, including titles, title search results, disclosure statements, title insurance policies and surveys. This will help determine legal ownership so that your clients are protected against title issues.
How Are Quiet Title Actions Handled?
An attorney files the quiet title action in a court of law. Once filed, the defendant in the dispute is served with the compliant. They have a deadline by which they must respond. In the case where they decide to contest the title, the case must be resolved by a judge. Since these matters are handled in the Chancery division, no jury is allowed. However, if the case is not contested, or a response is not received within the allotted amount of time given, the title may be cleared in favor of the plaintiff by the entry of a court order.
How Long Do Quiet Title Actions Take?
A quiet title action can take months or years, depending on the complexity of the case and the factors that will affect court rulings.
We Can Help
With almost 40 years of experience in Illinois real estate law, Erica Minchella has the expertise to help evaluate and bring a quiet title action so that your client can assure that no one can make claims against them or that a sale can proceed without title issues. Get started by scheduling a consultation today.