Quiet Title Disputes Attorneys Serving San Jose, California
If you’re attempting to sell your home or other real property in California, there may be issues concerning the title – who owns the property and who claims to own or have an interest in it – that can delay or even stop the sale in its tracks.
In this case, the title must be “cured.” Sometimes, this can be done between the parties involved voluntarily, but in other situations, a legal action known as a “quiet title” may have to be filed, giving the courts the power to settle the title dispute.
The so-called curative title process, which is completed outside of court, can be long and costly depending on the nature of the title issues. In the case of uncertainty and costly delays in curing the title, a quiet title action may be the best recourse.
If you’ve run into a title dispute in a property sale in or around San Jose, California, contact Mosaic Law, P.C. Our real estate attorneys are well-versed in title problems and the ways to resolve them. If the problem can be solved quickly and inexpensively outside of court, that may be the way to go. If not, a quiet title action can be undertaken. We will discuss the issue with you, do our research, and advise you of the best course of action.
In addition to San Jose, we proudly serve clients throughout South County, Santa Clara Valley, and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
How Does a Title End Up in Dispute?
A title to real property lists the owner or owners. When there is confusion about who really owns the property, it can prevent a sale from going through until the confusion is cleared up and the title is clear.
That being said, there are two main types of title disputes. The first is based on technical errors that occurred during the conveyance process. The second is an actual dispute over ownership.
A technical defect could result from the passage of the property from the owner to his or her heirs without leaving a will or creating a trust. The heirs, perhaps the person’s children, are supposed to go through probate proceedings and clear up the names on the title. If they don’t, or they just say, “Let’s sell it” as soon as the parent died, the title could be technically defective by retaining the original but now deceased owner’s name.
In this situation, there is no dispute over who actually owns the property. It’s the person who bought it. There was just an error in conveyance by the children of the former owner.
An ownership dispute can arise from several sources. These days, disgruntled spouses or ex-partners have been known to forge the other spouse’s name and convey the title to themselves. Fraud is sometimes the reason for an ownership dispute.
An ownership dispute, however, may involve many different persons and entities and can spring from those who have claims on your property for a variety of reasons, including:
Liens for child support
Liens for past-due spousal support
Other unknown liens
Liens by public utilities
Disputes over boundaries and easements as well as adverse possession claims can also cloud the title.
Requirements for a Quiet Title Action
A quiet title action must be brought in the superior court in the county in which the property is located. The court has complete power to determine title issues. No jury is needed.
If you’re seeking a quiet title action, the burden of proof rests on you, the plaintiff. The legal standard is “clear and convincing proof” rather than the “preponderance of evidence” standard used in civil trials. Sometimes, however, when it comes to factual issues, the preponderance of evidence standard may be applied.
The plaintiff must name as defendants all persons known (or unknown) to have a claim to the property. Subsequently, any person claiming an interest in the property, whether named as a defendant or not, can join in the action. The plaintiff must supply all involved in the action with what is called a “notice of pendency of action,” which alerts them of pending action affecting the title or possession of the property.
A judgment through a court order is binding and conclusive on all persons known or unknown who were parties to the litigation or who had a claim to the property.
Alternatives to a Quiet Title Action
Depending on the nature of the situation, you sometimes may be able to find someone on the title who shouldn’t be there and get that person to sign a quitclaim deed. At other times, an attorney may be able to look into the title and cure technical defects or even track down those with conflicting claims to seek resolution.
Quiet Title Disputes Attorneys Serving
San Jose, California
If the sale of your property is caught up in title defects and can’t move forward until they’re cleared up, a quiet title action is often the quickest route to settling ownership issues. If you’re in or around San Jose, California, contact Mosaic Law, P.C. We can look into your situation and advise you of the best legal option to resolve the issue.