Quiet title action is performed in order to determine who the actual owner of a property is. It may also be used to determine individual interests in a property. A quiet title action will usually occur when parties with interest in a property disagree or have a dispute about their rights in regards to ownership, easements, prescriptive rights, etc. Generally, the likely winner in such a case is determined not by the weakness of the opposing party to the plaintiff, but by the strength of the plaintiff’s own case. Quiet title actions have very specific statutory requirements regarding service, publication of notice, allegations, and procedure.
If you’re involved in a quiet title action case in California, Webb Law Group is happy to help with your case. The following is some information in regards to quiet title actions.
What are the Rules of a Quiet Title Action?
Any individual can establish their equitable or legal right, lien, estate, title, or interest in property or cloud upon title against adverse parties. An adverse party is defined as any person who claims an ownership interest, decreases the value of the property in some way, interferes with the plaintiff’s enjoyment of the property, or renders the title uninsurable. A quiet title can be brought in addition to, and cumulative with other remedies, such as damages or for ejectment. The plaintiff must hold a legal interest rather than an equitable interest, but there are exceptions to this rule. The plaintiff’s interest in the land can be the title to the property, a license, an easement, a lease, or title by adverse possession.
A quiet title action must be brought in the superior court of the county in which the real property is located. Once the action is before the court, the court has complete power to determine title issues.
A complaint to quiet title must be verified and must contain all of the following information:
- First, it must include a description of the property that is subject to the action. This must include the legal description as well as the street address. Common designation, if applicable, may also be included.
- Next, the plaintiff must include their title as to which a determination of quiet title is sought. If the complaint is based on adverse possession, or the occupation of land to which another person has title with the intention of possessing it as one’s own, the complaint must allege the specific facts constituting the adverse possession.
- The adverse party’s claims to the plaintiff’s title.
- The specific date as of which the determination is sought. Sometimes a determination may be sought as of a date other than the date the complaint is filed. If so, the complaint must include a statement of the reasons why a determination as of that date is sought.
- A prayer, or specific request for judgment, relief and/or damages at the conclusion of a complaint or petition, for the determination of plaintiff’s title against the adverse claims.
Hiring an attorney to help in such matters may be extremely beneficial. The attorney may recommend causes of action such as accounting contribution, “partition by sale”, or the rarely-used “partition in kind”.
Quiet Title Action Due to Fraud
A quiet title action may often be pleaded with general allegation. However, there is an important exception to this general rule. It involves alleging fraud in the obtaining of title by defendant, such as in the case of adverse possession. In fact, if fraud is alleged as the underlying reason for quiet title, the fraud allegations must be pleaded with specificity.
Most importantly, a complaint consisting of two or more causes of action, one dealing with quiet title action and others involving fraud and undue influence, will still allege only one count of fraud. This complaint must be pleaded with specificity. This means the complaint must overcome summary judgment or falls victim to a summary judgment based on the specificity or lack thereof with regards to the fraud allegations.
Essentially, these are the rules:
- If the defendant is found to be holding the title as a result of a fraudulent action, the deed will then be cancelled or fall into rescission.
- If the defendant is found to be holding the title as a result of an action done mistakenly, or without their knowledge, in most case the deed will fall into rescission.
No matter what the circumstances, if you have a dispute involving quiet title action in California, your best bet is usually to hire an attorney, regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. Webb Law Group is experienced in matters involving quiet title actions and is happy to assist you in exercising your rights.
Hiring an Attorney for California Quiet Title Action
Webb Law Group is a reputable business litigation firm with experience in matters involving California real estate law, such as California quiet title action. If you feel you need legal representation, we are happy to review your case and provide consultation.
For questions, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today at 559.431.4888 (Fresno) or 619.399.7700 (San Diego).