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Quiet Title Cases

By: Matilda M. Kull, Esq.


This Article discusses the basics of a quiet title case.


A quiet title case is a legal action taken to clear up any disputes or uncertainties regarding the ownership of a property. In many cases, a quiet title action is necessary when there is a cloud on the title, which means that there is some sort of issue or discrepancy that needs to be resolved before the title can be transferred to a new owner. One common scenario where a quiet title case may be necessary is when a land contract buyer never receives a deed from the seller. In some situations, the seller has died and disappeared before recording the deed in fulfillment of the land contract.


A two story brick house

Enjoy all the benefits of homeownership with clear title


A land contract is a form of seller financing where the seller acts as the lender and the buyer makes payments directly to the seller over a period of time. In this type of arrangement, the seller retains legal title to the property until the buyer has paid off the full purchase price. Once the buyer has paid off the contract, the seller is supposed to transfer legal title to the buyer through a deed. However, in some cases, the seller may fail to do so, leaving the buyer in a precarious position.

If a land contract buyer never receives a deed from the seller, they may be unable to prove ownership of the property. This can be a serious problem when the buyer wants to sell the property or obtain financing, as they may not be able to provide clear title to a potential buyer or lender. In such cases, the buyer may need to file a quiet title action to clear up any uncertainties regarding the ownership of the property.

To file a quiet title case, you will need to work with a real estate attorney to prepare and file a complaint with the court. After retaining an attorney, the first step is to contact a title company to run a title search on the property.

A title search is when a company compiles every deed recorded for the property and lines them up in a "chain" to find out who has legal title currently. A title search will find all flaws in title, allowing you to fix them at one time. Working with an attorney who has a relationship with a title company can make this process easier, as sometimes they may be able to do a title search in-house. After finding every flaw in title, the buyer's attorney will file a Complaint to Quiet Title with the proper court.

The complaint will provide specific details about the property and explain why the buyer is entitled to clear title. The buyer will also need to provide evidence to support their claim, such as copies of the land contract, payment records, the vesting deeds and any correspondence with the seller. The buyer must show how they are entitled to legal title by attaching deeds to evidence the chain of title as exhibits to the complaint.

Once the complaint is filed, the court will issue a summons, and the buyer's attorney will deliver it to the seller with a copy of the complaint, notifying them of the legal action. The seller will then have an opportunity to respond to the complaint and provide their own evidence to support their claim to the property. If the seller cannot be found, which is common in cases with very old land contracts, a special process is required to effectuate service. This requires mailing to a last known address, posting on the property and at the court, and publishing in the legal newspaper. The process of alternate service will take at least two months. If the court determines that the buyer is entitled to clear title, it will issue an order to that effect, which can be used to transfer legal title to the buyer. The court will issue an order or judgment that can be recorded with the county Register of Deeds to clear title.

A pen sitting on a signed contract

Conclusion

In conclusion, if a land contract buyer never receives a deed from the seller, a quiet title action may be necessary to clear up any uncertainties regarding the ownership of the property. This can be a complex legal process that requires the assistance of an experienced real estate attorney, like Wood Kull. However, by taking the necessary steps to resolve any issues with the title, the buyer can ensure that they have clear ownership of the property and can enjoy all the benefits of homeownership.

Contact a Wood Kull attorney today to begin your quiet title case!

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Wood, Kull, Herschfus, Obee & Kull, P.C.

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