A particularly important, if somewhat complicated, real estate concept is that of “quiet title.” In today’s post, we will give a brief summary of what quiet title is, why you need to do it, and what procedure you must follow to quiet title after purchasing real property at a tax sale.
So let’s get started.
What is Quiet Title?
In real estate, title is the legal document that expresses who owns a property. Title is what allows the person whose name is on the deed to sell or encumber the land or to use the land as collateral for a loan. Defects in title can cause major problems. They can lead to insurance issues, lawsuits or can be the reason a sale falls through or a lender refuses to loan money.
A quiet title action is a legal proceeding that is used for one of two purposes:
- it can be used to fix or “cure” a title issue; or
- it can be used to settle a dispute over the ownership of real property.
Georgia statutory law allows for two types of quiet title actions:
- a conventional quiet title or “quia timet” action and
- a quiet title (or quia timet) action “against all the world”.
Quiet Title Actions Following a Tax Sale
When you purchase real property at a tax foreclosure sale, a special problem arises with regard to title to the property. After a tax sale, the former homeowner/property owner has 12 months to redeem the property. This means that at a tax foreclosure sale, the person purchasing the property is treated as having a defeasible interest in the property. That’s because the purchaser’s interest in the property could terminate if the foreclosed upon owner redeems the property within the 12-month time period.
The first step in obtaining marketable title, then, is to foreclose on the homeowner’s right of redemption. Once that has been completed, the next step is to file a quiet title action with the court. Among other many specific procedural requirements, to commence a quiet title action, a petition must be filed in the county where the land is located. The Petition must contain specific information regarding the land itself and the petitioner’s interest in it. (For more specifics, please consult with counsel.)
In addition to specific information required in the Petition, there are certain specific procedural steps that must be followed in a quiet title action. These procedures mostly involve service of other individuals or entities that might have a real or potential interest in the property. Their purpose is to bring before the court all parties who might claim an interest in the property adverse to that of the petitioner.
A quiet title action is important for obtaining clear and marketable title to real property. However, it is not something that one should attempt to do without experienced real estate counsel.
Resolving Real Estate Problems
If you have real estate issues, contact us. We are experienced real estate attorneys in Georgia. Our practice focuses only on real estate issues and litigation, which means we practice in one area of law, and we do it extremely well. To schedule your free phone consultation, call us at: 770-888-7707.