Sometimes a piece of property comes along that seems absolutely perfect — until you find some problem with the title or realize that its actual ownership may be in question. That’s when a quiet title action may be able to help.

Quiet title actions are lawsuits that are designed to either settle a dispute about ownership or cure some other particular defect in a title to real property.

What causes a defect in a title?

There are several different ways that a defect in a title can occur, but they usually all come down to one thing: Somewhere along the line in the history of the property, something went wrong when ownership was transferred from one person to another.

For example, maybe Grandpa left the family farm equally to his two children and they just split it down the middle. Years later, one of them dies and leaves his half of the farm to his two children. One of those kids has no interest in farming and wants to sell the mineral rights — but finds out that the title was never formally transferred out of Grandpa’s name.

A quiet title action essentially asks the court to decide about who owns the piece of land in question. Although the process can be lengthy, a quiet title can usually be easily accomplished unless there’s an active dispute about ownership.

Other issues that can be solved in a quiet title action include questions about boundaries, easements, old liens (like a mortgage) against the property that were paid off but never properly removed, and clerical errors on a deed.

If there’s a troublesome issue with a deed to a piece of your property (or property you hope to own), find out more about the pros and cons of a quiet title action for your situation.