Do I need to file a Quiet Title Action if I own a Property Purchased by Tax Deed in Florida more than 4 years ago?
By Susan P. Bakalar, Esq.
Bakalar & Associates P. A.
Question- I purchased a property at a county tax deed auction and have owned for more than 4 years and now want to sell. Do I still need to file a Quiet Title Action (“QTA”) to sell the property with clear and marketable title?
Analysis- According to Florida Statute 95.192(1), Limitations upon acting against tax deeds, when a tax deed has been issued to any person under Fl statute 197.552(1), if ownership has been for a period of 4 years or more, no action shall be brought by the former owner of the property or any claimant under the former owner.
Further, according to 95.192(2) When a tax deed is issued conveying or attempting to convey real property before a patent has been issued thereon by the United States, or before a conveyance by the state, and thereafter a patent by the United States or a conveyance by the state is issued to the person to whom the property was assessed or a claimant under him or her, and the tax deed grantee or a claimant under the tax deed grantee has paid the taxes for 4 successive years at any time after the issuance of the patent or conveyance, the patentee, or grantee, and any claimant under the patentee or grantee shall be presumed to have abandoned the property and any right, title, and interest in it. Upon such abandonment, the tax deed grantee and any claimant under the tax deed grantee is the legal owner of the property described by the tax deed.
What does this all mean? In simple terms, if a property purchased at tax deed sale has been continuously owned by the purchaser for at least 4 years, title may be insured in the Grantee where all of the following conditions are met:
1. A duly issued tax deed has been of record for more than 4 years, 2. Taxes have been paid by the tax deed grantee, or successor for that period of time, 3. Notice was properly furnished to all required legal title holders, mortgagees and lien holders required by Section 197.502(4) and, 4. Subsequent to the issuance and recording of the tax deed, there has been no adverse claim asserted of record and no possession adverse to the tax deed grantee or successor.
Based on the foregoing, and while technical in nature, one can broadly operate with the understanding that if a property was purchased at a county tax deed sale and the property has been continuously owned and maintained (payment of property taxes) each year that there is no need to file an action to quiet title.
To determine if a property purchased at tax deed sale qualifies under the “4 year rule” it is strongly recommended that the county tax deed file related to the property as well as a title search of the property be reviewed by competent counsel to give an opinion as to whether or not a quiet title action is required. It is further suggested that anyone who obtains title to a property by tax deed who intends to sell or transfer title to the property or wishes to borrow against the property (obtain a loan or mortgage) prior to 4 years of ownership retain counsel to determine if a quiet title action is necessary.
For further information regarding tax deeds, please contact Bakalar & Associates, PA at 954-475-4244 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org