As property changes hands throughout the years, there are bound to be issues that arise related to ownership. Ownership issues such as forgotten liens or old deeds of trust result in a “cloud on title,” which will affect the ability to sell your property. Thankfully, these clouds can be cleared with a quiet title action. With a quiet title action, title issues will be resolved and the lawful owner of the property will be determined.
A helpful analogy is that of a chain with a single broken link. The chain represents the property and each link is a new owner. If there is a cloud on title, one of the links is broken and must be fixed before continuing to add to the chain. A quiet title action is the process by which the chain is examined, the broken link is located, and it is replaced so the chain is restored.
Quiet title actions are common in the real estate legal world. As with any lawsuit, quiet title actions can be settled in or out of court if all involved parties are willing to reach a resolution.
Why File a Quiet Title Action?
As discussed above, if there are competing claims of ownership for a property, a quiet title action may be useful. A quiet title action is frequently needed when a former property owner dies without a Last Will and Testament or when there is a joint ownership situation where one or more of the owners is in violation of the property ownership agreement. Additionally, some neighbor disputes, such as issues concerning property borders and easements, may also be settled with a quiet title action.
What is the Cost of Filing a Quiet Title Action?
Those involved in a quiet title action have the option to settle outside of court and avoid the hefty fees of litigation. In the event of settlement in court, parties should be wary that attorney fees are typically not awarded. However, there is a process by which the prevailing party can be awarded these fees in Arizona. Arizona Revised Statute 12-1103 states,
“If a party, twenty days prior to bringing the action to quiet title to real property, requests the person, other than the state, holding an apparent adverse interest or right therein to execute a quit claim deed thereto, and also tenders to him five dollars for execution and delivery of the deed, and if such person refuses or neglects to comply, the filing of a disclaimer of interest or right shall not avoid the costs and the court may allow plaintiff, in addition to the ordinary costs, an attorney’s fee to be fixed by the court.”
What to Do if Involved in a Quiet Title Action
As with any legal action, it is important to have experienced legal representation to guide you through the process. We recommend you contact an Arizona real estate attorney if you find yourself involved in one of these lawsuits.
Find an Experienced Phoenix Real Estate Attorney
If you are involved in a quiet title action, you want to make sure you have experienced legal representation. MacQueen & Gottlieb has significant experience with resolving legal disputes involving real estate, including quiet title actions. Contact us today at 602-562-7218 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.