A Brief Overview of the “Quiet Title”

Many buyers have been on the verge of acquiring their dream home or a piece of prime investment property when a title search turns up complications. Perhaps there is more than one chain of title or a mechanic’s lien was placed on the property after a previous owner failed to pay for contracted improvements. Should you walk away and hope you find something just as promising later on?

Not necessarily. When you encounter title issues as a buyer, a legal proceeding known as a quiet title can remove any objections to your assuming ownership. Quiet title actions are used to clear up ambiguities, remove conflicting claims, and bestow legal ownership on one clearly identified party.

Below is a list of commonly encountered title issues:

  • Falsified deeds signed by someone without the owner’s knowledge, usually to borrow money against the property
  • The deed contains a technical defect and the person who originally signed it is no longer available to sign a corrected version
  • Different heirs claim ownership of a property under conflicting wills
  • Mechanic’s liens filed against the property

A quiet title action allows the courts to examine these obstacles and remove them if there are legal grounds to do so. For example:

  • A deed is really an equitable mortgage. Lenders occasionally obtain deeds from borrowers with the understanding that they will take title to the property if the borrower defaults. The court may convert this deed to a mortgage if there is clear proof that the seller was indebted, applied unsuccessfully for loans in the past, and there is written evidence of a still-unpaid debt.
  • A mortgage exists, but there has been no activity on it for years. In Illinois, if the lender does not collect on the debt for more than 10 years, the mortgage will no longer be considered valid.
  • There is a mechanic’s lien on the property, but the claimant has not foreclosed within two years as required by Illinois law.
  • If you are not a new buyer but have been openly living in the property for over 20 years despite the fact that the title belongs to someone else, the court will likely award you the title to the land because you have been using it exclusively all that time and the legal owner has taken no steps to remove you.

Even if you are not engaged in an active dispute with another potential claimant, removing any cloud on a title is recommended because it can be difficult to fully use your property when your ownership is not free and clear: for example, you may not be able to borrow against its value or sell it. A quiet title action can establish your sole ownership of the property.

For assistance with a quiet title action in Cook County and the rest of Illinois, call the Auricchio Law Offices at 312-263-0010. We can assist you in obtaining the clear title you need to fully utilize the property and prevent future legal problems. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.

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Auricchio Law Offices

Auricchio Law Offices in Chicago provides a complete range of real estate services. We facilitate residential and commercial real estate transactions, advise and represent condominium associations, and represent property owners in real estate litigation. Whatever your real estate issue, we will work diligently to achieve your goals in a timely and efficient manner.

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