What if you’re interested in purchasing property, but its ownership is currently in dispute? What if you believe a currently occupied house or another plot of land belongs to you, but someone else has claimed ownership? In these situations and more, you may need to file a quiet title suit.
However, filing a quiet title suit in Arkansas is a complex and difficult process. Instead, you should hire knowledgeable property law attorneys right away. In this article, we’ll explain four reasons why you shouldn’t file a quiet title suit in Arkansas on your own.
What is a Quiet Title Suit?
Also called a quiet title action, a quiet title suit is a circuit court action intended to settle or “quiet” questions about title ownership for a given property.
For example, if two individuals have apparently valid claims to the same plot of land, one of the individuals can file a quiet title suit to have the court decide ownership. The decided-upon owner will receive all the rights and privileges associated with owning that plot of land.
Quiet title suits can also be important if there is an objection to one person or party’s initial claim to land or real estate. Any quiet title action is meant to clarify ownership of a property: by the end, all questions will theoretically be settled, and one of the disputing parties will have ownership rights and privileges.
When is a Quiet Title Suit Necessary?
A quiet title suit may be necessary if title ownership for a house, larger building, or any other plot of land is in dispute for any reason.
Title disputes can occur due to:
- Inheritance questions or misunderstandings
- Competitive real estate deals
- Real estate lender misunderstandings
- Vague or improper contract language
Quiet title suits can also be advantageous for the beneficiary after the fact. In most cases, settled quiet title suits protect beneficiaries from further attempts from outside entities, like other buyers, to acquire the property in question. If a quiet title suit is settled about a competitive real estate property, for example, further buyers cannot continue to try to purchase the property from whoever won the suit. Additionally, quiet title suits don’t always give new title owners the same protections or legal defenses against the title’s previous owner.
Who Can File a Quiet Title Suit?
Anyone can file a quiet title suit for any reason. However, only those who have potentially valid claims for a particular property are likely to see their suit lead to success.
When Are Quiet Title Suits Commonly Filed?
Quiet title suits are most commonly filed for situations such as:
- Mortgage lender disputes
- Cases of adverse possession, in which a plot of land or property is possessed through potentially illegitimate or illegal means
- Situations where a property is unoccupied for a long period of time and someone tries to claim it via squatter’s rights
- A title owner dies, throwing property ownership into dispute among all potential inheritors
Why Shouldn’t You File a Quiet Title Suit Alone?
Like other lawsuits, you are technically allowed to file a quiet title suit by yourself. But in reality, this is not a wise idea for several critical reasons.
Reason #1: It Takes a Lot of Work
Filing a quiet title suit alone is a long, complex process. To file a quiet title suit in Arkansas, you must:
- File a petition (called “Action for Quiet Title”) with your county clerk’s office or with the circuit court of the county in which the property is located
- Identify all the persons, parties, or other entities that may have a potential interest in the property, like previous owners, a deceased title owner’s descendants or potential inheritors, other potential buyers, etc.
- Give plenty of adequate notice to the people who may have a potential interest in the title or property. You have to send those people two copies of the notice: one addressed to the person by their name, and another addressed to the current occupant of their last known address
- Wait for other entities who may have a potential interest in the property to be summoned to the case or, alternatively, publish a Warning Order in the local newspaper
- Wait for 30 days
- Go to court, at which point you can ask the court to issue a Decree to Quiet Title
At every step of the process, you’ll need to do extensive research to locate potential parties with interest in the title or property.
Reason #2: It Takes a Lot of Time
Filing a quiet title suit takes a long time, whether you file it alone or with the help of legal professionals. It often takes between three and nine months for a quiet title suit to be resolved, if not longer. Knowledgeable legal professionals can sometimes accelerate this timeline.
Reason #3: Small Errors Can Lead to Loss of Title Privileges
If you make a small mistake on the paperwork, or if you fail to notify someone with potential interest in the title, you could lose your title privileges or delay the resolution of your quiet title suit.
Reason #4: Repeat Filings Cost More Money
Filing any quiet title action costs several thousand dollars. If you have to repeat the filing because of an error, you’ll have to pay that filing fee again. Thus, it’s in your best interest to file the paperwork correctly the first time. Real estate law attorneys can help you through each step of the process and make filing a quiet title suit in Arkansas much easier.
Call Milligan Law Offices Today
Ultimately, filing a quiet title suit alone is never a wise idea, even if you have done a lot of research and believe you are up to the task. It’s still better to have another pair of eyes look over your documents and help you perform the necessary research to file your lawsuit correctly.
With years of experience in will and trust law, Milligan Law Offices is the perfect choice if you want to file a quiet title suit in Arkansas. Our legal team can help you file an effective quiet title suit and clear up questions about land ownership. Schedule an initial consultation online or give us a call at (479) 783-2213.