If one person claims to be the owner of an interest in real property, and another person claims to be the owner of that same in interest in the same property, either may sue the other for a judgment resolving that conflict. That type of lawsuit is called an action to quiet title or a quiet tile action. A successful plaintiff obtains a judgment in a quiet title action which “quiets” (or eliminates) adverse claims to the rightful owner’s title.
A quiet tile action can be very useful and effective in a few different scenarios. First, when two people claim the same ownership to the same property. Quiet title actions can also be brought for the purpose of foreclosing or quieting adverse claims that show up as exceptions on title reports. The plaintiff’s objective, under this scenario, is to eliminate a cloud on title, thereby making his or her title marketable.
In some cases, the plaintiff will not have record or legal title (meaning that the plaintiff’s name will not appear on the deed to the property), but the plaintiff will nonetheless have an equitable claim to that title. Although technically under that scenario it is not a quiet title action, it is very similar to a quiet tile action. This situation comes up when title on the deed says one thing, but the parties have agreed to hold equitable title in some other way not reflected on the deed or inconsistent with what is stated on the deed.
A quiet title action is also appropriate to establish that the plaintiff has acquired title by adverse possession or that a plaintiff has acquired easement rights through prescription or some other equitable means.
I regularly represent clients in East Bay California in quiet title actions. If you have questions, or need representation by a California real estate attorney involving a title dispute or cloud on title, please feel free to contact me to arrange for a consultation at (510) 465-0025.