If you hold the title to a piece of land or property in Florida, you have legal ownership of that specific land or property. Florida law has several rules to protect the integrity of title to real estate, which includes legal actions to “clear” title clouds.
In this article, you will discover what a quiet title action is and why you should work with a Florida attorney to protect your ownership interests in a property.
Florida Property Title History – An Introduction
The legitimacy of property ownership has always been a major concern throughout Florida’s legal history. It is possible to find records with titles written on parchment dated back to the time when Spain ruled the land.
Over time, many situations affected the original documentation that attests to land ownership, including the exponential increase in foreclosure issues and problems caused by forgery, fraud, and other similar actions.
Florida courts have unprecedented care to ensure the enforcement of legitimate ownership rights to land and property through sales, inheritance, and other legal devices. In this scenario, quiet title actions have a fundamental role.
Quiet Title Action – As Provided by Law
A quiet title action is a civil lawsuit filed by the owner of property asking the court to issue a judgment declaring the title of that property is free from any claims or interests that may jeopardize its ownership.
Florida Statutes §65.011 provides the court adjudicating a quiet title action “shall determine the title of plaintiff as against defendants and enter judgment quieting the title of, and awarding possession to, the plaintiff entitled thereto (…).”
Additionally, the court “may enter injunctions, temporary or perpetual, appoint receivers, and enter such orders about costs as are necessary to protect the rights of the parties.”
Once the court issues a judgment declaring the plaintiff’s ownership rights to the property, the action removes any existing clouds affecting the title. Hence, the title is “quieted” by the lawsuit.
For instance, a quiet action may revoke an improper conveyance of property identified in its chain of title or remove existing claims from past owners’ heirs.
Please note that “quieting” the title of a property may not remove all types of title clouds, such as federal tax liens or bank mortgage liens.
Also, legal action to quiet title does not provide for monetary awards or damages to be paid to the plaintiff. In such cases, it is necessary to file a separate lawsuit based on the compensation needed by the owner of a property (e.g., document forgery, fraud, etc.).
Quiet Title Lawyer in Florida – Is a Title Search Necessary?
Many people think that filing a quiet title search waives the need to work with an expert attorney to perform a thorough title search. However, it is not the ideal approach. The title search process is crucial to identify the issues affecting the title and list all potential claimants that might affect its ownership rights.
Once the search has been completed, the attorney will issue a report with all the issues found during the examination. Specific issues must be solved before a quiet title lawsuit, such as specific types of liens, zoning issues, encroachments, and easements.