As an Atlanta, Georgia real estate litigation lawyer, I often work with clients to ensure that title disputes do not inhibit the sale of property. This two part series outlines several ways to resolve title disputes, including Quiet Title Actions. In this segment, I discuss how you can “quiet a title” without going to court, the circumstances under which you might need a Quiet Title Action to clear a title, and the two types of Quiet Title Actions in Georgia.
If the source of the problem with a title is already known, as might be evident in a case with a hostile partner who you know has no real interest in the land itself, you can opt to obtain a quitclaim deed from that person and put that on title. This will allow you to clear the title without going to court with a Quiet Title Action. But often the source of a dispute is not apparent and legal action with a Quiet Title Action is necessary. Disputes over titles can arise from tax sales, mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens, historical mechanics’ liens, issues of hostile ownership, boundary disputes, federal or state tax liens and disputes with a spouse or business partner (former or current). Adverse possession or prescription of title also cloud titles when an individual claims to have held the property for a long period of time without documentation or when, under Color of Title, that individual possesses a defective document that appears to show ownership.
Most of the issues listed above can be resolved using a Quiet Title Action, with the exception of federal or state tax liens and disputes involving a spouse. Federal and state tax liens must be addressed by another court and disputes involving a spouse fall under the domestic relations statutes in Georgia. When a Quiet Title Action is necessary, it is wise to seek the assistance of an experienced Atlanta, Georgia real estate lawyer. Your lawyer will choose from the two methods available to “quiet a title.” Both types fall under the Equity Code in Georgia (Chapter 23). The first is the Conventional Quiet Title Action that removes a known instrument or known instruments (Chapter 23-3-40). This method is not very common, but it is useful when you know exactly what is clouding the title and who is behind it. With this type of case you do not need to serve everyone with the petition, since you already know what and who is at the root of the issue.
Much more usual is use of the Quiet Title Act of 1966 (Georgia Equity Code Chapter 23-3-60 through 23-3-73). This method clears all known clouds on titles and as such, requires that the whole world be served with the petition. Because everyone is served, all disputes can be aired and resolved. This allows the title insurance company to insure the title, so that the seller can pass the property on to the purchaser with what is called “good and marketable title”. Because this form of Quiet Title Action clears any and all disputes on the title, it is an effective way to guarantee that a title is free and clear.
Keep an eye out for my next installment of this series on resolving Georgia title disputes. I will examine the general guidelines that need to be followed if you do go to court with a Quiet Title Action and take a look at a typical timeline for these cases.
Our Firm represents individuals in mitigating risk associated with real estate transactions. We welcome the opportunity to be of service to you. Please feel free to call our Firm at (404) 467-8611 or toll free at to discuss your options. You can also send us a message through our confidential Web Site form. The Libby Law Firm is conveniently located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia near the intersection of Piedmont and Roswell Roads.