Cook and Associates are Quiet Title Attorneys in Montgomery, Alabama
A “quiet title” action is an action to settle the entirety of title interest in real estate in one person or entity (a business, estate, government agency, or trust). This is a lawsuit filed in a circuit court in the county in which the property is located. When the judge enters an order on the complaint, the title of the property is “quieted” in the person who won the lawsuit.
Who needs to quiet title?
Quiet title proceedings are necessary when there is almost any type of dispute of ownership over a parcel of real estate. For example, if someone has forged a deed, the true owner of the property could have quiet title filed to remove the cloud on the public record. If a property is subject to a claim for adverse possession, or has been sold at tax sale, then a quiet title action should be filed to “quiet” the title in the party who has the most superior claim.
There are two types of quiet title actions, “in personam” and “in rem”. The “in personam” is a lawsuit filed against a known individual or entity whose interest was affected by the plaintiff’s claim to title. Notice must be given to the defendants by personal process server or certified mail. After the defendants receive notice, they have 30 days to respond to the Plaintiff and the court.
Also, an action to quiet title over tax delinquent property has additional special notice and burden of proof requirements. If you need to file an action to quiet title and have never done so before, it is highly recommended to have a licensed and experienced attorney walk you through the process.
The second type of action, “in rem”, is a lawsuit filed against “the property itself”. This is a bit confusing, how can you sue a parcel of land? Basically, in real world terms, this means that all individuals or entities who have an interest in the property are put on notice by a newspaper publication.
Where there are unknown possible claimants, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent their interests. The Plaintiff will have to pay additional attorney’s fees to the guardian to compensate for these services. (Sometimes attorney’s fees can be recovered from the seller of a property who gave title by warranty deed.)
Special Requirements after Tax Sales: Burden of Proof and Notice
Tax sale purchasers should quiet the title to their investment properties with an in personam action as soon as they are capable, which is right after they are able to obtain the tax sale deed. This allows them to flush out problems before more money is spent. There are some special requirements, however, that investors should be aware of.
First, tax sale purchasers should know about their burden of proof. In a post tax sale lawsuit, the burden is on the Plaintiff (meaning the tax purchaser) to show that all appropriate steps have been followed leading up to the sale. They can do this by obtaining certified public records that show the tax sale was conducted properly.
Second, there are special additional notice requirements in a post tax sale quiet title action. The Alabama Code states that:
“The notice shall include the name of the taxpayer whose interest was affected by the tax sale, the name of any other party as revealed by a search and examination of the title to the property who may claim an interest in the property, a legal description of the property, the street address of the property if available, the name, address, and telephone number of the authority, a statement that the property is subject to the quiet title proceedings under Act 2013-249, and a statement that any legal interests in the property may be extinguished by a circuit court order vesting title to the property in the authority.”
You can find the full language of the statute here.
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