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Quiet Title

About Quiet Title Law from the Sacramento and Los Angeles property lawyers at Kassouni Law…

Quiet title is a legal claim to perfect an interest in real property. The plaintiff and defendant in a quiet title action typically both claim an ownership of all or a portion of real estate. The Court will issue an order for the plaintiff or the defendant, which will clarify who has the ownership interest.

There are many different circumstances which will give rise to a quiet title claim. For example, neighbors often have disputes over the true boundary lines of their respective properties. If one neighbor declares that a fence between two properties is wrongly placed, he or she may have the property line surveyed. The Court will then decide if the survey is accurate, and issue an order perfecting title for the plaintiff.

Another example is an action brought by the plaintiff to have the Court decide whether there is an easement over neighboring property for vehicular access, drainage, parking, or recreational use. The Court will determine whether the requisite legal elements of an easement have been met.

In other instances, more than one individual may own property. If there is a dispute over the percent ownership interest, a quiet title action is appropriate.

Quiet Title actions are unique, in that the plaintiff must do more than simply file a lawsuit. The plaintiff must also record and serve a document called a lis pendens, which means “notice of pendancy of action.” By recording this document in the Recorder’s office, the plaintiff is giving notice to the world, so to speak, that there is a lawsuit pending in court over title issues. Any potential purchaser of the property is now on notice of the dispute, and, more usually than not, will refrain from buying the property until the dispute is resolved. This is an extremely important procedural requirement. Without a recorded lis pendens, the property can be sold, and the new buyer can claim that he or she is an “innocent” or “bona fide” purchaser, which may prevent the plaintiff from obtaining relief in a quiet title action.

Quiet title actions do not provide for damages. They are actions in equity which will be presided over by a judge. Thus, a jury trial is typically not available as Seventh Amendment rights do not attach to actions in equity.

However, damages can be sought in the same case under different causes of action, such as trespass, fraud, or breach of contract, where a right to jury may apply depending on the circumstances.

Kassouni Law is headquartered in Sacramento with a satellite office in Los Angeles, available to serve clients throughout the state of California on a variety of property law related matters.