What is a Quiet Title Action?
A proceeding to establish an individual’s right to ownership of real property against one or more adverse claimants.
An action to quiet title is a lawsuit filed, pursuant to Chapter 65 of the Florida Statutes (entitled “Quieting Title”) in Circuit Court to establish ownership of real property (land and buildings affixed to land). The plaintiff (generally the case is brought by the owner of the subject property) in a quiet title action seek the entry of a Court order that prevents any named respondent (referring to the party or parties “named” on the lawsuit) from making any subsequent claim(s) to the subject property.
Quiet title actions areabsolutely necessary because in order to convey title (sell the property), one must be able to sell the property free and clear of any encumbrances (referring to liens, judgments etc). Pursuant to Florida Statute 65.021(2), if successful in the quite title action, the court will issue a formal judgment signed by the judge that will be filed with the real property records in the county in which the subject property is located. The judgment should remove any asserted cloud on title and “quiet” the property owner’s title to the property which makes it both insurable (from a title standpoint) and marketable (meaning the property owner is able to sell the property free and clear of any title issues).
A quiet title suit is also often time referred to as a suit to remove a cloud on title. A cloud is any claim or potential claim to ownership of the property. A cloud on title can be a claim for full ownership of the property or a claim of partial ownership, such as an unsatisfied mortgage, judgment or lien in an amount that does not exceed the actual value of the property. A title to real property can beconsidered clouded if the plaintiff (the property owner), might have to defend their full ownership of the property in court against some party in the future who may claim an interest or an ownership interest (such as by virtue of a mortgage, judgement, lien or other encumbrance).
A property owner may bring a quiet title action regardless of whether the respondent (again, referring to the party or parties named in the lawsuit) is asserting a bonafide right to gain possession of the premises. Keep in mind that a quiet title action does not provide for any monetary award or damages to be paid to the owner who brings a quiet title action. A quiet title action is simply a lawsuit designed to clear title to land and remove any clouds on title on Florida real estate. A quiet title action may not remove or clear up all claims that can be brought against the subject property. For example, a Federal Tax Lien will generally survive a quiet title action.
A Florida Quiet Title Action will not have 100% cleared the title to the subject real property unless and until:
- A quiet title lawsuit has been filed and served and ruled on by the Court. This required that thorough research has been conducted to account for any and all potential claims that could be brought against the property)
- Any and all superior liens have been satisfied in writing,
- A written judgment has been signed by the Court and recorded in the Public Records of the County where the property is located,
- A title insurance underwriter has confirmed that all potential claimants to the property have been properly accounted for in the lawsuit and that said potential claims have been removed or satisfied.
The full text of the 2016 version of Chapter 65 of the Florida Statues is shown below and is shown to make the reader aware of all of the intricacies and requirements of a Quite Title action:
65.011 Real estate; certain jurisdiction over.
65.021 Real estate; removing clouds.
65.031 Real estate; removing clouds; plaintiffs.
65.041 Real estate; removing clouds; defendants.
65.051 Real estate; removing clouds; joinder.
65.061 Quieting title; additional remedy.
65.071 Quieting title; deeds without joinder of wife when separated for 30 years.
65.081 Tax titles; quieting title.
65.011 Real estate; certain jurisdiction over.—Chancery courts have jurisdiction of actions by any person or corporation claiming to own any land or part thereof, or by two or more claiming to own the same land or part thereof under a common title against more than one person or corporation occupying or claiming title to the land or part thereof adversely to plaintiff, whether defendants claim or hold under a common title or not; and shall determine the title of plaintiff as against defendants and enter judgment quieting the title of, and awarding possession to, the plaintiff entitled thereto and may enter injunctions, temporary or perpetual, appoint receivers, and enter such orders about costs as are necessary to protect the rights of the parties.
History.—s. 1, ch. 3884, 1889; RS 1500; GS 1949; RGS 3212; CGL 5004; s. 20, ch. 67-254.
Note.—Former s. 66.10.
65.021 Real estate; removing clouds.—Chancery courts have jurisdiction of actions brought by any person or corporation, whether in actual possession or not, claiming legal or equitable title to land against any person or corporation not in actual possession, who has, appears to have or claims an adverse legal or equitable estate, interest, or claim therein to determine such estate, interest, or claim and quiet or remove clouds from the title to the land. It is no bar to relief that the title has not been litigated at law or that there is only one litigant to each side of the controversy or that the adverse claim, estate, or interest is void upon its face, or though not void on its face, requires extrinsic evidence to establish its validity.
History.—s. 1, ch. 4739, 1899; GS 1950; RGS 3213; s. 1, ch. 10223, 1925; CGL 5005; s. 2, ch. 29737, 1955; s. 20, ch. 67-254.
Note.—Former s. 66.11.
65.031 Real estate; removing clouds; plaintiffs.—An action in chancery for quieting title to, or clearing a cloud from, land may be maintained in the name of the owner or of any prior owner who warranted the title. All lands, the title to which is subject to a common defect, may be embraced in one action irrespective of the number of existing legal or equitable owners.
History.—s. 1, ch. 10221, 1925; CGL 5006; s. 20, ch. 67-254.
Note.—Former s. 66.12.
65.041 Real estate; removing clouds; defendants.—No person not a party to the action is bound by any judgment rendered adverse to his or her interest, but any judgment favorable to the person inures to that person’s benefit to the extent of his or her legal or equitable title.
History.—s. 2, ch. 10221, 1925; CGL 5007; s. 20, ch. 67-254; s. 345, ch. 95-147.
Note.—Former s. 66.13.
65.051 Real estate; removing clouds; joinder.—Two or more persons who are interested in removing a cloud from or quieting title to land as against the same clouds or adverse claims may join as plaintiffs in a single action to remove such clouds or quiet the title, although their interests relate to separate lands or parts thereof.
History.—s. 1, ch. 10222, 1925; CGL 5008; s. 2, ch. 29737, 1955; s. 20, ch. 67-254.
Note.—Former s. 66.14.
65.061 Quieting title; additional remedy.—
(1) JURISDICTION.—Chancery courts have jurisdiction of actions by any person or corporation claiming legal or equitable title to any land, or part thereof, or when any two or more persons claim to own the same land, or any part thereof under a common title against all persons or corporations claiming title to or occupying the land adversely to plaintiff, whether defendants claim or hold under a common title or not, and shall determine the title of plaintiff and may enter judgment quieting the title and awarding possession to the party entitled thereto, but if any defendant is in actual possession of any part of the land, a trial by jury may be demanded by any party, whereupon the court shall order an issue in ejectment as to such lands to be made and tried by a jury. Provision for trial by jury does not affect the action on any lands that are not claimed to be in the actual possession of any defendant. The court may enter final judgment without awaiting the determination of the ejectment action.
(2) GROUNDS.—When a person or corporation not the rightful owner of land has any conveyance or other evidence of title thereto, or asserts any claim, or pretends to have any right or title thereto, which may cast a cloud on the title of the real owner, or when any person or corporation is the true and equitable owner of land the record title to which is not in the person or corporation because of the defective execution of any deed or mortgage because of the omission of a seal thereon, the lack of witnesses, or any defect or omission in the wording of the acknowledgment of a party or parties thereto, when the person or corporation claims title thereto by the defective instrument and the defective instrument was apparently made and delivered by the grantor to convey or mortgage the real estate and was recorded in the county where the land lies, or when possession of the land has been held by any person or corporation adverse to the record owner thereof or his or her heirs and assigns until such adverse possession has ripened into a good title under the statutes of this state, such person or corporation may file complaint in any county in which any part of the land is situated to have the conveyance or other evidence of claim or title canceled and the cloud removed from the title and to have his or her title quieted, whether such real owner is in possession or not or is threatened to be disturbed in his or her possession or not, and whether defendant is a resident of this state or not, and whether the title has been litigated at law or not, and whether the adverse claim or title or interest is void on its face or not, or if not void on its face that it may require extrinsic evidence to establish its validity. A guardian ad litem shall not be appointed unless it shall affirmatively appear that the interest of minors, persons of unsound mind, or convicts are involved.
(3) DERAIGNMENT OF TITLE.—The plaintiff shall deraign his or her title from the original source or for a period of at least 7 years before filing the complaint unless the court otherwise directs, setting forth the book and page of the records where any instrument affecting the title is recorded, if it is recorded, unless plaintiff claims from a common source with defendant.
(4) JUDGMENT.—If it appears that plaintiff has legal title to the land or is the equitable owner thereof based on one or more of the grounds mentioned in subsection (2), or if a default is entered against defendant (in which case no evidence need be taken), the court shall enter judgment removing the alleged cloud from the title to the land and forever quieting the title in plaintiff and those claiming under him or her since the commencement of the action and adjudging plaintiff to have a good fee simple title to said land or the interest thereby cleared of cloud.
(5) RECORDING FINAL JUDGMENTS.—All final judgments may be recorded in the county or counties in which the land is situated and operate to vest title in like manner as though a conveyance were executed by a special magistrate or commissioner.
(6) OPERATION.—This section is cumulative to other existing remedies.
History.—ss. 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, ch. 11383, 1925; CGL 5010, 5011, 5014, 5015, 5017, 5018; s. 1, ch. 24293, 1947; s. 2, ch. 29737, 1955; s. 20, ch. 67-254; s. 1, ch. 70-278; s. 346, ch. 95-147; s. 56, ch. 2004-11.
Note.—Former ss. 66.16, 66.17, 66.20, 66.21, 66.23, 66.24.
165.071 Quieting title; deeds without joinder of wife when separated for 30 years.—An action in chancery may be brought to quiet title to land to preclude any wife from claiming dower or any heirs from claiming any interest to land when the following facts exist:
(1) When any husband and wife have not cohabited as husband and wife for 30 years or more and during this time the husband has conveyed land as a single man and the land has come into the hands of purchasers for a valuable consideration without notice that the husband was married at the time he conveyed the land, and the purchasers have relied on the acknowledgment to deeds by the husband that he was a single man, and it afterwards became known that he was a married man at the time he deeded the land and his marriage has never been dissolved and he refuses to voluntarily get a dissolution of marriage to clear the title to preclude his wife from claiming any inchoate dower therein and his heirs from claiming any interest therein and when the wife has never lived in the county where the land is located with the husband as his wife and has never asserted any inchoate right to dower in the land, the inchoate right to dower is divested and is a cloud on the title to the land and the purchaser of the land has the right to remove the cloud and to prevent the wife or heirs from claiming any dower or other interest from such purchasers and their successors in title.
(2) When these facts are proven, the court shall adjudge that the wife and heirs of the husband are forever barred and perpetually enjoined from claiming any interest in the land arising out of dower or otherwise, and that the wife did not join in the execution of the deeds by which the husband deeded the land as a single man under the facts above-stated is not effective to reserve an inchoate right of dower in the land held by such purchasers.
History.—ss. 1, 2, ch. 19116, 1939; CGL 5011(1), (2); s. 2, ch. 29737, 1955; s. 20, ch. 67-254; s. 1, ch. 73-300.
1Note.—Chapter 73-107 abolished the right of dower in property transferred prior to death. See also s. 732.111.
Note.—Former s. 66.25.
65.081 Tax titles; quieting title.—
(1) PARTIES.—Any grantee under any tax deed issued by the state, or any municipality or other political subdivision thereof, or any purchaser from the state, or any municipality or other political subdivision thereof, of any land the title to which has been acquired by this state or such municipality or political subdivision through any proceeding or foreclosure for the nonpayment of taxes or special assessments, or the successor in title to the grantee or purchaser, may maintain an action in chancery to quiet title to the land included in the tax deed, or so purchased against the holder of the record title to the land, and against any other person or corporation claiming any interest in the land or any lien or encumbrance thereon, before issuance of the tax deed or before the loss of title to the land in the tax proceeding or foreclosure.
(2) DERAIGNING TITLE.—Actions may be maintained hereunder whether or not plaintiff is in possession of the land involved but when defendant is in actual possession of the land a jury trial may be had as provided in other actions to quiet title. When the action is based on a tax deed, the complaint need not deraign title beyond the issuance of the tax deed. When the action is based on a conveyance by this state, or any municipality or other political subdivision thereof, of land the title to which it has acquired through a foreclosure or other proceeding for the nonpayment of taxes, the complaint need not deraign title beyond the deed or other instrument or act vesting title in the state or municipality or other political subdivision of the state.
(3) WHEN TAXES HAVE BEEN PAID.—No defense to the action or attack upon the tax deed shall be made except the defense that the taxes assessed against the property had been paid by the former owner before issuance of the tax deed.
(4) WHEN TAX DEED HAS BEEN ISSUED BEFORE CONVEYANCE BY SOVEREIGN.—No defense shall be made to the action because of assessment of the property or issuance of the tax deed before the United States or the state has parted with title to the property, and no other attack shall be made on it, except the defense that the taxes assessed against the property had been paid by the person, or a claimant under him or her, to whom the United States patent or conveyance from the state was issued before the issuance of the tax deed.
History.—ss. 1, 2, ch. 21822, 1943; s. 2, ch. 29737, 1955; s. 20, ch. 67-254; s. 29, ch. 74-382; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 347, ch. 95-147.
Note.—Former ss. 66.26, 66.27.