Someone has clouded my title

“Cloud on the title” also known as “title defect”, is generally caused by a claim, lien, or encumbrance impairing or blocking your rights as a real property owner.

Generally, “clouds” prevent property owners from selling, conveying, or transferring a marketable title. Another example of a “cloud” is a notice of pendency of action or “lis pendens”, which is a document that is recorded with the county which provides constructive notice of a pending court action affecting the title or possession of real property. If there is a dispute that deals with real property, this notice, which is also filed with the court, warns all potential acquirers or purchasers against any attempt to acquire a legal or equitable interest in the real property. This provisional remedy is a powerful weapon a plaintiff has when filing an action that affects title or possession of real property.

Frequently Asked Questions

A cloud on the title can devalue your home or make it harder to sell. If a lis pendens if recorded, it also gives notice to any potential buyers that there is currently a dispute affecting title to the property. Buyers may reconsider buying a property that has a cloud on the title because the seller may not have proper title or it could be very expensive to clear the title.
One way to remove a cloud is to file an action in court. Filing a civil lawsuit against the previous homeowners or lienholders to clear the title may be helpful if the defects are caused by someone else. This would be known as a quiet title action in which one party who has an interest in real property brings a lawsuit against another party claiming to have an interest in that property. The plaintiff asks the court to rule that the other party does not actually have title or a claimed legal interest in the property.
If the person who recorded the lis pendens does not voluntarily remove it, it may be removed through a motion to expunge. A motion to expunge may be granted if the court action does not contain a real property claim that has proper validity. In other words, the motion will be granted if it is more likely than not that the underlying lawsuit or claim will fail. The prevailing party may also be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in bringing the motion unless the court finds the losing party acted with substantial justification.

A cloud on your title may lead to a reduction in value or marketability of your real property. Generally, potential buyers that discover a cloud through a title search will refuse to move forward with the purchase. Examples of clouding title include, but are not limited to:

  • Lis Pendens, which gives notice of a pending legal action that may affect the real property;
  • Mortgage and tax liens;
  • Deed errors;
  • Easements that are not properly recorded.

One legal remedy to remove a cloud on a title is to file a quiet title action. If there is a lis pendens, you can file a motion to expunge the lis pendens if the person who recorded it does not voluntarily remove it.

If you would like to learn more about filing a quiet title action in California, please contact experienced attorneys at Webb Law Group.

Contact Webb Law Group

If you would like to schedule a free, no-risk consultation with Webb Law Group, call 559.431.4888 or 619.399.7700 between 7am and 5:30pm Monday – Friday. You can also submit a request through our online form. If we cannot answer you inquiry immediately, we will be in touch within 24 hours.

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