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California Quiet Title actions; a lawsuit to resolve disputes between different claims affecting title to real estate

There are many different types of interest is real property; outright ownership, easements, life estates, co-ownership, prescriptive rights, etc. Often there is a dispute between parties with conflicting claims as to property rights. Usually it is the case of someone with title and possession denying the rights of someone else who claims a right in the property. A quiet title action is brought to establish, or “quiet”, title or an interest in real estate between adverse parties. Quiet title actions have very specific statutory requirements regarding allegations, service, publication of notice, and procedure. Anyone contemplating such an action should contact an experienced Sacramento and Placer real estate attorney.

quiet title action.jpgAnyone can establish their legal or equitable right, title, estate, lien, or interest in property or cloud upon title against adverse parties. (CCP §760.010) An adverse party is anyone who claims an ownership interest, interferes with the plaintiff’s enjoyment of the property, decreases the value 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 has to hold a legal interest, as opposed to an equitable interest, but there are exceptions. The plaintiff’s interest in the land can be the title to the property, an easement, a license, a lease, or title by adverse possession.

Quiet title actions must be filed in the superior court where the real property, or any part of it, is located. The judgment binds all persons, known and unknown, claiming an interest in the property. (CCP §764.030) It binds non-parties to the lawsuit who have adverse claims in the property that was not of record at the time the suit was filed and lis pendens recorded. The plaintiff must search the county recorder’s records before filing to make sure that everyone is included, because it is not binding on non-parties whose claim is of record prior to the lawsuit.

A quiet title action is directed at a person claiming an adverse interest in the property. Simply put, the plaintiff has an interest, and the defendant claims an adverse interest. An action to remove a cloud on title (Civil Code §3412+) is directed at a particular document or instrument or other evidence. The plaintiff must allege facts showing that the document is invalid.