Title issues frequently arise when a real estate seller gets a call from a closing agent advising that there is a “cloud” on the title. The “cloud” refers to a concern or question. These clouds come in many different forms. It can be caused by an error in the deed where you acquired title or one of the deeds to the property previously. It can be due to a tax lien, a municipal lien, a judgment, the failure to do a probate and a host of other issues. Title to real estate that has “clouds” is not considered marketable. What do you do? We recommend you first seek the advice of an experienced real estate title attorney. You will first want to determine whether you have an existing title policy that insures over this claim. If you do, often the title company handling your sale will rely on such a policy and issue a new policy to purchasers or their lender. If you don’t have such a policy, you will need to “cure” the title.
Assuming you do not have title insurance coverage and are on your own in resolving the title issue, you may be forced to retain counsel to assist you in fixing the problem. There are various ways to cure the title based on the type of “cloud” and the particular circumstances.
Title curative work can refer to negotiating a release of a lien or encumbrance. But, sometimes a lawsuit is required. The lawsuit may be asking the court to modify or “fix” a prior document so that it reads as it was intended to read. This is known as a reformation action. Another type of lawsuit is a quiet title action. A quiet title action is an action filed against the parties who may have an interest or claim or at least the records indicate they might. Often the parties are heirs of the party who may have had the interest. The difficult part of the lawsuit may be getting these heirs properly served or notified of the lawsuit. In some circumstances, this can be accomplished by publishing a notice of the lawsuit in a local newspaper.
When filing a quiet title action, often the attorneys will rely on a curative statute. Most states, including Florida, have curative statutes. These statutes “cure” title over time. The time period varies depending upon the issue. Examples of the curative statutes are adverse possession statutes and the Marketable Record Title Act, affectionately known as “MRTA” or “marta.”
Experience with Quiet Title
Many Pensacola lawyers may tell you that they have handled quiet title suits. We have the experience to show that we have handled dozens and dozens of these matters over time. We have a host of attorneys many with more than 30 years of experience handling such claims. Edward P. Fleming and R. Todd Harris have handled complex litigation regarding titles. While Board Certified Real Estate Attorney Stephen R. Moorhead and Stephen L. Walker have been involved in non-adversarial quiet title matters as part of their transactional practice.