A petition to quiet title starts a special legal proceeding to determine ownership of real property. When one party claims ownership of property (for example they have been on the most recent property deed in the past) they can file an action to quiet title which serves as a sort of lawsuit against anyone and everyone else who has a claim to the land. If the owner prevails in the actions, no further challenges to the title can be brought. The lawsuit should be filed in the circuit court in the county in which the property is located. This type of lawsuit arises anytime there is a dispute of ownership over a piece of real estate.
There are two types of quiet title actions in rem and in personam. In rem is a lawsuit that is filed against the property. If there are unknown people who may have claim to the land, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent their interests. The party that is bringing the quiet title action will have to pay additional attorney’s fees for the guardian to pay for the services. This effectively puts all people who have an interest in the property on notice through publication. A sign is then placed on the property explaining what is going on. Once everyone that has a claim to the title of the property has been properly notified, the court allows anyone with legitimate claims to the property to make them.
The second form of quiet title action is in personam. This lawsuit is filed against a known individual 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 defendant receives the notice, they have thirty days to respond to the plaintiff. In Alabama quiet title actions are governed by Ala, Code § 24-9-8. Under the statute, 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; and a statement that the property is subject to the quiet title proceedings.
There are a few different steps that go into a quiet title action. First, your attorney will have to conduct very thorough research to look for any defect in the title. Secondly, the Alabama real estate attorney will have to draft a quiet title petition, the summons and the pleading in accordance with Alabama law and the quiet title statute. After the petition has been drafted, it will need to be filed by certified mail or process server. Once the petition is filed you will get a judgment or a litigated judgment against each of the defendants.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!