Logo for Calvin Law Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan

What Does It Mean to Have a Quiet Title?

Read Below

Real property is one of the most valuable assets you can own. It cannot get stolen, almost always appreciates in value, and lasts forever. The land you buy could provide a place for you to live now and an attractive inheritance to your heirs in the future.

The permanence of land can also create problems. Your property might have changed hands dozens of times. And between owners, lien holders, and other interested parties, hundreds of people might have held an interest in your property.

Meaning of a Quiet Title

A quiet title is a title without any adverse interests. The best way to understand a quiet title is to contrast it with a clouded title.

When you buy property, you have a title search performed. This title search ensures the seller holds a valid title to the property. You will probably also pay for title insurance. This insurance protects you and your lender in case the seller lacks the right to convey the property to you.

When there are questions about whether the seller has a valid title or the right to convey the title to you, they have a clouded title. Someone else has or might have a legal interest in the property that prevents the seller from passing 100% of the rights to you, free and clear of any other interests.

A quiet title is the opposite of a clouded title. A quiet title has been cleared of known adverse interests such as:

  • Lien holders
  • Mortgagees
  • Prior owners
  • Adverse possessors, also called squatters
  • Holders of easements

A quiet title makes clear that none of these interests affect the property described in the title.

Process for Quieting Title

Michigan law has a special action for quieting title. You file this lawsuit in the circuit court with jurisdiction over the property. You file it against the party that allegedly has an adverse interest in the property. If you win, you can record a certified copy of the judgment with the county register’s office to prove you quieted the title.

Some reasons you might file an action to quiet title include:

  • Clear title after a mortgage foreclosure
  • Clarify ownership after a tax foreclosure
  • Removing forged deeds recorded for the property
  • Bridging gaps in the title history created by misrecorded deeds
  • Removing liens that were improperly recorded or satisfied
  • Resolving boundary disputes or surveying errors
  • Removing missing heirs after an estate sale

A quiet title action might occur amicably. For example, suppose only two of three heirs signed the deed to you when you bought a house. The third heir might be willing to sign a deed or disclaim their interest after receiving a share of the sale price from the other two heirs.

In other situations, the other party will oppose the action. A past lienholder might refuse to release the lien. As a result, you might need a lawyer to litigate your real estate by gathering evidence and proving the lien was paid to win a quiet title action.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Quiet Title?

You always have the right to represent yourself in a lawsuit. However, property law is highly esoteric and complex, even for lawyers. You may need an experienced and knowledgeable property attorney to guide you through the process of quieting your property’s title.