Hugh J. M. Jones, III, P.C. Hugh J. M. Jones, III, P.C.

Whether you decide to buy a house for yourself or as an investment, you expect to own it after sealing the deal. In order to make sure that happens, a title search is necessary to make sure that no one else has a legal claim to the property.

If that search reveals an issue that could impede your ownership, a legal avenue of potential recourse exists. You may be able to file a "quiet title action" aimed at settling the question of ownership.

What kinds of things could prevent your ownership?

Before getting into what a quiet title action is, it may prove useful to understand the types of potential impediments to ownership you could face:

  • An old and unreleased mortgage lien remains in the records.
  • Other liens remain on the property such as mechanic's liens, tax liens and more.
  • An heir of a prior owner makes a claim to the property.
  • The property records contain clerical, typographical or recording errors.
  • Easement and property boundary issues exist.

Any of these issues could bring ownership of a piece of property into question.

What does a quiet title action do for you?

When you file a quiet title action, you ask the court to "clean" the title. This means removing any of the impediments above, among other things, from the title. In some cases, one could fix the items with a court order nullifying an old mortgage, a survey to establish the proper boundaries of the property or making a ruling regarding an easement.

In other instances, the recording office may receive an order to correct a clerical, typographical or recording error. In other cases, the solution may not be quite as easy. Mechanic's liens and tax liens may require some kind of satisfaction before the appropriate party releases the lien. When it relates to heirs coming forward, the situation could become even more complicated.

You may also file a quiet title action just to make sure that no obstacles to ownership exist. A Virginia judge could enter an order as a preemptive strike so that no claims could arise in the future. Anyone named in the lawsuit would receive the opportunity to respond just as anyone else would in any other litigation. This can be a powerful tool if there's a the chance that some sort of challenge could arise later.

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