Imagine that you buy a house, you move into that house, and you’ve been living in that house for a few years when someone knocks on the door (or more likely writes you a letter) and informs you that they own the house that you bought and paid for. What do you do? Given the circumstances described in this hypothetical you would likely want to file a quiet title action in order to legally establish that you own the property in question.
What Is A Quiet Title Action?
A quiet title action is a lawsuit that is designed to establish ownership of real property (aka land and any buildings attached to that land). This type of lawsuit is filed when there are two or more parties that claim to own a particular parcel of land. This actually happens more often than you might imagine. For example, multiple parties may claim ownership if a new possessor claims that they have acquired ownership over the land via adverse possession, if a seller fraudulently sold a parcel to two different buyers by using a forged deed, or if a bank failed to clear title after the mortgage on the property was paid off. There are many diverse situations in which it may be advantageous to file a quiet title action, but the idea is always to have a court determine who legally owns the property in order to ‘quiet’ all other claims.
While many states have their own quiet title statutes, most require the claimant to show the same two things. First, the claimant must be able to show that they have a legitimate claim to the property. Second, they must prove that they took possession of the property in good faith. If the claimant is able to show that their claim to the property is valid, then the court will grant an action to quiet title announcing that the claimant’s claim to the property supersedes anyone else’s claim of ownership.
The Notice Requirement
When someone files a quiet title action how are parties with potentially adverse claims of ownership notified about the lawsuit? Generally, states require parties who may have an adverse claim to be notified of the quiet title action. For example, Alabama’s quiet title action statute for tax delinquent properties, contained in section 24-9-8 of the Code of Alabama, outlines a very strict notice requirement. The notice required for these actions for must include:
- The name of the taxpayer whose interest was affected by the tax sale,
- The name of any other party that a title search reveals may claim an interest in the property,
- A legal description of the property,
- The street address of the property,
- The name and number of the authority,
- A statement that the property is subject to quiet title proceedings, and
- A statement that any legal interest in the property may be extinguished during the proceeding.
In order to ensure that you comply with your state’s quiet title action notice requirements it is always a good idea to consult with a competent attorney for legal counsel.
Need Legal Advice?
If you live in Alabama and would like to file a quiet title action so that you have a legal proof that a particular parcel of land belongs to you, contact Cloud Willis & Ellis, LLC today. Our experienced real estate attorneys are located in both Birmingham and Mobile and are happy to discuss your legal options with you.