When multiple people claim ownership over one piece of property or multiple owners disagree about what to do with the land, a quiet title action can help resolve the issues. Quieting title determines the actual owner of real estate or individual interests in a piece of property. Quieting title has many benefits but also has many complex procedural requirements that the person wishing to quiet title must complete successfully. It is important to understand the procedural requirements for quieting title in California and how a lawyer can help.
Quiet Title Complaint
The complaint for quieting title in California must be filed in the county where the real property is located and contain all the following information:
- A description of the property that contains both a legal description and street address or common designation, if it has one
- The title of the plaintiff to which a determination of quiet title is sought
- If based on adverse possession, the facts of the adverse possession must be listed
- The adverse claims to the title
- The date as of which the determination of quiet title is sought
- A prayer for the determination of the title against the adverse claims
The complaint must also list all known people also claiming an interest in the property.
A quiet title action in California can be pled with a general allegation with one major exception: fraud. If the complaint alleges that someone is claiming ownership of the property fraudulently, then the complaint must list specifically how and why there is fraud. If the complaint is a mix of general and fraud allegations, the claims of fraud must still be pled with specificity. An experienced attorney will understand how fraud complaints differ from general quiet title complaints and be able to help you draft the complaint accordingly.
Lis Pendens Action
The final procedural step in a quiet title action in California is the lis pendens action, otherwise known as a notice of pendency of action. This action provides constructive notice to all other people claiming interest in the real estate and allows them to find notice of the pending litigation in the recorder’s office of the county where the complaint is filed. This must be filed for any action that would affect the title to a specific piece of property, right to possession of the property, or the right to use an easement listed in the complaint.
The lis pendens notice must be filed and indexed in order to take effect. It is also important to note that this action only applies to subsequent buyers and encumbrances, and it does not affect any interest in the property that was created prior to the filing. Both a complaint and lis pendens action must be filed properly in order to fulfill the procedural requirements of a quiet title action.