Florida Quiet Title Actions: 10 Things You Should Know About Quieting Title in the State of Florida | About Florida Law (2024)

Last Update: 11/7/21

As the Florida real estate market moves along, title issues continue to cause problems for Florida home owners, those wanting to sell Florida property, as well as those who want to buy a Florida home or condo. Why? For one thing, the ForeclosureFraud mess from years ago disrespected and ignored longstanding Florida law designed to protect the chain of title to real estate – leaving quiet title actions the only way to clean up the mess.

The integrity of the system has been harmed. Everyone involved in Florida real estate should proceed with care in dealing with real estate title transactions (sales, purchases, leases, insurance, etc.).

Here are ten things that everyone needs to know about chain of title to Florida real estate and the process of quieting title:

1. What is “title”? When someone owns “title” to land in Florida, it means that they have some form of legal interest in that property. In Florida, the Florida Legislature and the Florida Courts are very, very careful to protect the recording of land ownership and the process for how real estate is transferred from one owner to another. This is the title process. For example, here is a law that was passed long ago – in 1828 – that is still effective today:

689.01 How real estate conveyed.

No estate or interest of freehold, or for a term of more than 1 year, or any uncertain interest of, in or out of any messuages, lands, tenements or hereditaments shall be created, made, granted, transferred or released in any other manner than by instrument in writing, signed in the presence of two subscribing witnesses by the party creating, making, granting, conveying, transferring or releasing such estate, interest, or term of more than 1 year, or by the party’s lawfully authorized agent, unless by will and testament, or other testamentary appointment, duly made according to law; and no estate or interest, either of freehold, or of term of more than 1 year, or any uncertain interest of, in, to, or out of any messuages, lands, tenements or hereditaments, shall be assigned or surrendered unless it be by instrument signed in the presence of two subscribing witnesses by the party so assigning or surrendering, or by the party’s lawfully authorized agent, or by the act and operation of law. No seal shall be necessary to give validity to any instrument executed in conformity with this section. Corporations may execute any and all conveyances in accordance with the provisions of this section or ss. 692.01 and 692.02.

History.–s. 1, Nov. 15, 1828; RS 1950; GS 2448; RGS 3787; CGL 5660; s. 4, ch. 20954, 1941; s. 751, ch. 97-102; s. 2, ch. 2008-35.

2. Different Ways to Take Title. In Florida, you can own real estate in several different ways. Under Florida law, you can “take title” to real estate through any of the following ways and which option you choose may depend upon several factors: estate planning may be a consideration, for example, and tax issues can be another.

Sole Ownership – here you take title to the real estate in your name alone.

In Trust – in Florida, land title can be held in the name of a trustee of a specific trust, for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries, including a Living Trust and a Florida Land Trust.

Shared Ownership — here, you take title to the property with one or more other people as joint owners. Two examples: land title held as “tenants in common” or “joint tenants with the right of survivorship.”

3. Who Can Hold Legal Title to Florida Real Estate? Floridians, of course: residents of the state own most of Florida real estate. Americans living in other states can also hold title to Florida real estate as well as citizens of other countries. In fact, buying pretty Florida vacation spots is very popular right now with people all over the world (Canada, Great Britian, Brazil, etc.).

However, you don’t have to be a real, living person to hold legal title to land here in the State of Florida. Corporations and partnerships can hold legal title to Florida real estate. So can the local, state, and federal governments.

4. What is the process of clearing title to Florida real estate? Making sure that you have clean and clear title to real estate can be accomplished by a “quiet title” action, which is a lawsuit that is filed in a Florida court. Obtaining a title insurance policy protects you against claims by others who are asserting a right to your property, but a title insurance policy does not clean up legal title. Title insurance just means the title to the real estate is insurable. It doesn’t mean the tile is free of any defects.

5. What is a quiet title action? A quiet title action is a lawsuit filed in a Florida circuit court. It is a civil action. The homeowner or property owner is often the party bringing the action, and they are asking the judge to issue a judgment cutting off the rights of those who may have an interest in the property or who have clouded title (i.e. heirs of a deceased prior owner, construction lien holders, leaseholders, etc.).

Read: Quitclaim Deed Lawsuits

6. How long do quiet title actions take? How long the lawsuit will take, from start to finish, depends upon the circ*mstances of your individual case. Just like with any litigation, there are many variables that determine how long a case will take to conclude, including the number of parties involved in the lawsuit, locating the parties, and addressing any possible defenses.

7. What Does a Quiet Title Action Accomplish? A quiet title lawsuit results in a judgment, signed by a Florida judge, that is filed in the real estate records to demonstrate that a judge has ruled and declared that all adverse legal interests to a specific piece of property have been removed. The chain of title is cleared of the encumbrance or lien in the real estate records. The title has been “quieted.”

8. What Is Left After a Quiet Title Action? A quiet title action will not erase legal claims to the real estate that are shown to be legitimate under the law. For example, if there is a Federal Tax Lien on the property, that may survive the quiet title action.

9. What is a Chain of Title? The chain of title to land is the historical record of who has owned that parcel, from the current day back in time as far as the records can go. Real estate records are kept at the county clerk’s office. There are counties in Florida where title searches can go back into handwritten land records on parchment (these have usually been scanned, microfiched, etc.).

10. What is a “Cloud on Title”? When the chain of title for a particular piece of real estate is not clear because there is either a gap in the records, or there is an adverse interest making a claim of ownership or asserting a lien against all or part of the property (e.g., joint tenancy, mortgages with no satisfaction of mortgage recorded, claims by probate heirs and/or creditors, mineral rights, air rights, water rights, etc.), then the chain is said to have a cloud on it. Most clouds on title must be removed in order for you to have “marketable” or “insurable” title (the terms used in most Florida Real Estate Contracts).

Larry’s Tip

Quiet title actions can be complicated because of the procedures that must be followed, including locating and serving all of the proper parties that need to be brought into the lawsuit. Also, the issues caused by the problems of the past like deed forgeries, robosigning, Foreclosure Fraud, and the reselling of mortgages as mortgage securities, all add to the complexity of filing a quiet title lawsuit.

In the past, quiet title actions were usually brought because a deed had a typo in the legal description of the property, including a wrong block number or condo unit number in the deed. Those cases were not complicated, a judgment was entered to fix the typo. Problem solved.

Now, quiet title actions can be more adversarial because of the mess that has been created by so many institutions disrespecting real estate law.

If you believe a quiet title lawsuit is needed to clear title to Florida real estate, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced Florida real estate lawyer to learn the steps involved in this type of lawsuit. Most real estate lawyers, like Larry Tolchinsky, offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.

Related Posts:

Quiet Title Actions in Florida: What Damages Can You Get? In a Quiet Title Lawsuit, What Do You Get When You Win?

Florida “Wild Deeds” – Just One More Florida Land Title Issue For Quiet Title Actions: What is a “Wild Deed”?

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Florida Quiet Title Actions: 10 Things You Should Know About Quieting Title in the State of Florida | About Florida Law (1)

Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Larry an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

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Florida Quiet Title Actions: 10 Things You Should Know About Quieting Title in the State of Florida | About Florida Law (2024)

FAQs

How does a quiet title action work in Florida? ›

In a QTA, the person claiming complete ownership (the plaintiff) files a QTA that requests that any clouds (claims) against the real property be terminated – so the plaintiff can use and sell the property without fear of any actions by the respondents.

How to be successful in quiet title action? ›

How to Succeed in Quiet Title Actions?
  1. Get legal advice: ...
  2. Collect evidence and research: ...
  3. Identification of potential defendants: ...
  4. Served with notice: ...
  5. Make a complaint: ...
  6. Defend against counterclaims: ...
  7. Make your case in court: ...
  8. Get a quiet title judgment:

What is the statute of limitations on a quiet title case in Florida? ›

Statute of limitations: In Florida, the limitation for quiet title actions is typically four years. If the plaintiff has waited too long to file the lawsuit, the defendant may argue that the statute of limitations has expired.

How do you respond to a quiet title? ›

If you find yourself facing a quiet title action, you can fight it by producing a deed and other information proving that you have superior title and that their claim is invalid or mistaken.

What are the elements of a quiet title action? ›

Necessary Elements of a Quiet Title Claim

A description of the property that is the subject of the action. For real property, the description must include a legal description as well as the street address or other common designation. The title of the Plaintiff as to which a determination of quiet title is sought.

What is a quiet title for dummies? ›

A quiet title action is a court action (lawsuit) intended to establish or settle the title to a property, especially when there is a disagreement. A defective title is one with an encumbrance, such as a lien, mortgage, or judgment, making it impossible to transfer the property to another owner.

What would cause a deed to be void? ›

Deed signed by mistake (grantor did not know what was signed) Deed executed under falsified power of attorney. Deed executed under expired power of attorney (death, disability, or insanity of principal) Deed apparently valid, but actually delivered after death of grantor or grantee, or without consent of grantor.

What is the habendum clause in a deed? ›

The habendum clause is a clause that occurs in deed or lease contracts and describes the relationship between the land and its lessee. In real estate, the habendum clause describes the rights and interests given to the lessee after the title is transferred.

How much does a quiet title action cost in Florida? ›

A quiet title action typically costs between $1,500 to $4,000 in Florida depending on the region and other possible factors. The costs are broken down into: Court case filing fee, which ranges between $300 and $450, depending on the county in which the case is filed.

What is a suit to quiet title? ›

The term “quiet title” generally refers to any lawsuit that attempts to confirm ownership, fix a title error, or settle an ownership dispute. The end result of a quiet title lawsuit is a court order clarifying or confirming who owns the subject property. In other words, a quiet title fixes the chain of title.

What is Lis Pendens in Florida? ›

A lis pendens is a document filed in a lawsuit and recorded by the clerk in the public records. It creates a cloud on title to property involved in the litigation.

What is adverse possession in Florida? ›

Adverse possession is generally defined as a method of acquisition of title to real property by possession for a statutory period of time under certain conditions and usually requires that certain elements be established including: open, continuous for the statutory period, for the entirety of the area, adverse to the ...

Is quiet title the same as adverse possession? ›

A person may also file a quiet title action to establish their ownership of the property using the legal theory of adverse possession. However, there are also other types of quiet title disputes that may not involve easem*nts or adverse possession, such as invalid liens and other types of ownership disputes.

What is the importance of title keeping quiet? ›

The title 'Keeping Quiet' has a message in itself of what can happen as a result of keeping quiet. It stresses the importance of introspection, solitude and of stopping our work or any activity for some time. The title throws light on the power of quietness in resolving our personal issues.

When a property is sold by the court and the proceeds are divided among the owners, this is called a? ›

Partition action is the legal process by which a court is called upon to divide (or part) the equitable interest in real property amongst co-owners who can't unanimously decide on what to do with the asset.

How much does it cost to do a quiet title in Florida? ›

A quiet title action typically costs between $1,500 to $4,000 in Florida depending on the region and other possible factors. The costs are broken down into: Court case filing fee, which ranges between $300 and $450, depending on the county in which the case is filed.

What is a quiet title for a tax deed in Florida? ›

What is a quiet title action (QTA)? In a QTA, the court reviews the various claims to ownership and of the real property. The court decides which claim should control – who the true owners are. More formally, a QTA is a lawsuit filed pursuant to Chapter 65 of the Florida state laws.

Why is it called a quiet title? ›

The term “quiet title” generally refers to any lawsuit that attempts to confirm ownership, fix a title error, or settle an ownership dispute. The end result of a quiet title lawsuit is a court order clarifying or confirming who owns the subject property. In other words, a quiet title fixes the chain of title.

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