Quiet Title Lawsuit

By:  Erik Watkins, Esq.

QUIET TITLE (CCP§§ 760.010-765.060 – California)

The Ins & Outs

 

What:

A quiet title lawsuit is an action to establish title of real property against adverse claims or interests.  CCP§760.020.  Common situations where a quiet title action may arise are:

  • A family member was put on title to a property shortly before the passing of the prior owner;

  • To challenge the validity or interpretation of a gift, devise, bequest, or trust, under a will or instrument purporting to be a will, whether admitted to probate or not (CCP§764.020);

  • Most situations where title insurance cannot be obtained, and it is related to the status of title;

  • Title has been transferred in such a way as to cloud the chain of title with multiple interests;

  • There is a disagreement between family members over whom owns a property;

  • Someone was inadvertently put on title to a property.

 

The determination of quiet title is not exclusive of other remedies.  CCP§760.030.  When a quiet title action is filed, it may accompany other causes of action and remedies sought.

 

When:

There is no specific statute of limitations for a quiet title action, unless it is based upon fraud or mistake.  If it is based upon fraud or mistake, the statute of limitations is 3-years.

 

How:

A quiet title action is commenced by filing a complaint with the superior court, and immediately recording a notice of pendency of action with the county recorder.  CCP§761.010.  The recording of the notice of pendency of action acts as a cloud on title so that the property status remains status quo while the action is pending court determination.  Without recording the notice of pendency of action, any judgment may not bind any bona fide party related to any transfer of the property (CCP§764.060).

 

A quiet title complaint is verified and must state the following (CCP§761.020):

  • The legal description and street address or common designation;

  • Title of Plaintiff’s interest and basis of that title.  (A quiet title action based upon adverse possession requires additional allegations);

  • Any and all adverse claims to the plaintiff’s title;

  • The date as of which court determination is sought.  If a date of determination is that other than the date of the filing of the complaint, it shall include a statement why determination as of that date is sought;

  • A prayer for the determination of the title of the plaintiff against the adverse claims.

 

Who:

The Plaintiff must name as defendants all persons having adverse claims to the title of the plaintiff against which a determination is sought.  CCP§762.010.  There are special rules as to defendants who are unknown to the plaintiff (CCP§762.020); if a person required to be a defendant is dead (CCP§762.030); any person having a claim to the property may appear in the proceeding (CCP§762.050); “all persons unknown, claiming any legal or equitable right, title, estate, lien, or interest in the property described in the complaint adverse to plaintiff’s title, or any cloud upon plaintiff’s title thereto,” (CCP§762.060); and if the plaintiff admits the validity of any adverse claim – he or she must so state (CCP§762.060(c)).

 

The court, upon proof of reasonable diligence, shall order service by publication pursuant to CCP§415.50.  CCP§763.010.  When service is ordered by publication, plaintiff shall post, not later than 10 days after the date the order is made, a copy of the summons and complaint in a conspicuous place on the real property that is the subject of the action. CCP§763.020.  When service is ordered by publication, prior to any hearing on the case, the court shall require proof that the summons has been served, posted, published as required, and that the notice of pendency of action has been filed.  CCP§763.040.

 

Conclusion:

Judgment on a quiet title action cannot be obtained by default.  The court in all cases shall require evidence of plaintiff’s title and hear such evidence as may be offered respecting the claims of any of the defendants.  CCP§764.010.

If you have a situation where title to a property is in question, or you have issues with the title of property contact our knowledgeable attorneys to assess your particular situation and advise on what steps should be taken.

ZAHBIHI & WATKINS LAW FIRM, APC  -  916-970-1605

Nothing in this article should be relied upon as legal advice, construed as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship.  

 

Zahbihi & Watkins Law Firm, APC is the premier boutique business law firm in the Sacramento Valley region of California and specializes in business transactions and litigation.  Please contact Zahbihi & Watkins Law Firm, APC if you would like to discuss your specific situation.