When a person is challenging property ownership in a court of law, a quiet title is put into action. The “claimant”, or the person challenging the title, is fighting for the right to have their name on the title of whatever property is being disputed. By engaging a quiet title, you remove any ambiguity regarding whose name should legally be on the title. Here are some of the specific aforementioned uses for quiet titles from an article by William Kenton (2022):
Gaps in Title: To clear the title to a property that has been unoccupied for some time, allowing for outside parties to make bids for its purchase.
Quitclaim Deeds: The conveyance of an interest in the property via a quitclaim deed, in which the previous owner disclaims interest, but does not promise that the title is clear.
Adverse Possession: To convey title to a property in the case of adverse possession, in which a party occupies property that is legally not theirs for purposes of laying claim to it.
If you are in need of a civil attorney, make sure to contact Richard Martin when filing for a quiet title action. He will fight for you and your case.
The Recent Decision Made by the Supreme Court
On March 28, 2023, the Supreme Court made a decision regarding quiet titles that has set a precedent for years to come. In the case of Wilkins v. United States, the Court deliberated whether or not the Quiet Titles Act’s statute of limitations is Constitutional.
Two petitioners, Larry Wilkins and Jane Stanton, sued the government using the Quiet Title Act to challenge the government’s holding of a road on their property. The government had established that the road was to be held as an easement, allowing public access to the road. Wilkins and Stanton wished to dispute this decision, approaching the State with a lawsuit stating that they believe the road should be private property. They explained that the road, Robbins Gulch Road, should not be accessed by the public because it interrupts their personal lives. It was said that allowing public access to this road had led to stealing, trespassing, and even the shooting of Wilkins’ cat.
At first, the Court denied their filing based on the precedent set by the case of Block v. North Dakota and Board of Univ. and School Lands, stating that the statute of limitations (12 years) had already passed. However, Stanton and Wilkins fought this decision, saying that the statute of limitations was Unconstitutional. After some deliberation, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayer delivered the opinion of the Court. The Court reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the quiet title, saying that the statute of limitations was not jurisdictional. They decided that the quiet title that Wilkins and Stanton were petitioning for should be considered and that Stanton and Wilkins should get their day in court. This ruling from the Supreme Court has changed the precedent for the Quiet Title Act for years to come. This now means that small businesses will be able to file for a quiet title, even after the statute of limitations has passed.
Kenton, Will. “Quiet Title Action: Definition, How It Works, Uses, and Cost.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 1 Nov. 2022, https://www.investopedia.com/terms/q/quiet-title-action.asp.