A California home buyer may be shocked and confused to learn that someone other than the seller claims to own the property the buyer wishes to purchase. In many cases, the title to a property may not be as clean as a buyer thinks. Some circumstances from the property’s history may result in uncertainty in determining who has claim to the house. A quiet title lawsuit may clear the title once and for all.
A mortgage lender will want assurance that the title to a property is clean and that the borrower will have complete ownership. However, a title search may reveal that the seller does not have the legal right to sell, such as with the following:
- Mistakes on the deed that lead to confusion about who the rightful owner is
- Incomplete surveys in which the property boundaries are unclear
- The potential that other heirs of the property have not agreed to sell, such as in an estate sale
- The existence of an easement on the property
- Liens on the property, such as for unpaid taxes or contractors
- No physical evidence that the owner has paid off an old mortgage
Through a quiet title action, both sides are simply looking for the court to confirm the ownership of the property so the transaction can move forward. There are some cases in which a buyer will file a quiet title action even if no one has contested the sale of the property. After a certain time passes, if no one comes forward to claim ownership of the property, the judge will clear the title. If anyone does contest the property’s ownership, the case will typically go to court.