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Residential Real Estate in California: What is a Quiet Title Action?

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For a wide variety of different reasons, a dispute may arise over who owns all or part of a residential property. If you are involved in a dispute over property ownership, it is crucial that you protect your rights. A quiet title action is one of the most effective legal tools that property owners can use to resolve a dispute and clarify their title. In this article, our Riverside title dispute lawyers provide a guide to quiet title actions in California.

Quiet Title Actions: Understanding the Basics

As defined by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, a quiet title action is a specialized legal proceeding to determine the rightful owner of real property. Essentially, a quiet title action is a type of lawsuit filed with the intent of either:

  1. Establishing title to property; or
  2. Settling a dispute over who owns title to property.

The reason this type of claim is referred to as a “quiet” title action is because the plaintiff is seeking to remove (silence or quiet) any objections to their title and potential claims on their property rights.

Common Reasons to Bring a Quiet Title Action in California

As the core purpose of a quiet title action is to clear a title defect or resolve disputed ownership, there many different scenarios when this type of legal action may be filed. Some of the most common reasons why parties file a quiet title claim include:

  • A boundary dispute between neighbors;
  • A dispute over a property easement;
  • Unclear ownership of inherited property;
  • Disputes with mortgage lenders;
  • Residential property purchased in a foreclosure sale; and
  • Adverse possession claims.

What Information Do You Need to File a Quiet Title Action in California?

Under California law (Code Civ. Proc. §761.020], a quiet title action must be well-supported. To file a successful quiet title action claim, you will need to provide a detailed description of the property at issue in the title dispute. Beyond that, you also should gather and organize all relevant property records.

The Statute of Limitations Depends on the Underlying Claim

Many people have questions about the statute of limitations in quiet title cases. Determining the relevant statute of limitations can be complicated as California does not have one specific statutory deadline for these claims. Instead, the statute of limitations depends on the underlying action. In the 2015 case of Salazar v. Thomas, a California appeals court clarified the various legal deadlines. The court noted that the statute of limitations in a quiet title action is:

  • Five years for an adverse possession claim;
  • Four years for a cancellation of an instrument claim;
  • Three years for a fraud claim; and
  • Three years for a mutual mistake claim.

If you have any specific questions or concerns about the statute of limitations in your title dispute case, an experienced California residential real estate attorney can help. Do not assume that it is too late to assert or establish your rights.

Call Our Riverside, CA Real Estate Law Attorneys for Immediate Help

At Wagner Zemming Christensen LLP, our California residential real estate lawyers are skilled, reliable advocates for property owners. We have the knowledge and experience to represent you in the full range of quiet title actions. If you are locked in a title dispute, our team is more than ready to help. To arrange a confidential, no commitment review of your case, please contact us today. From our legal office in Riverside, we serve communities throughout the wider Inland Empire region, including in Jurupa Valley, San Bernardino. Chino, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, and Hemet.

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