One of the things that makes real estate law so complex is that many parties can have claims on a piece of property. For instance, if a property owner dies and leaves the property to their family, various family members may have a legal interest in the property. Business interests can make the picture even more complex. A mortgage lender has an interest in a home if the homeowner has not paid off the mortgage. Likewise, various other businesses can have a lien on the property.
All of these claims should be resolved before the property can be sold, but sometimes this is impractical, if not downright impossible. For these cases, one of the claimants may have to perform a legal action known as a quiet title.
A more or less blank slate
The purpose of a quiet title action is to put to rest all outstanding claims on a piece of property, leaving something like a blank slate. If successful, the person requesting the quiet title will become the legal owner of title in the property, and will be able to possess it, sell it, pass it down to their heirs, and enjoy all the other advantages of ownership.
These actions often come about in the context of a lawsuit involving competing claims on a piece of real estate. These disputes sometimes arise after the death of a property owner, when multiple heirs are arguing over who gets to keep the real estate. They can also arise amid disputes with mortgage lenders, after a piece of property has been unoccupied for a long period of time, or in many other situations where there is confusion about who has title to the property.
A quiet title action does not resolve every issue in ownership, but when appropriate, it can be a powerful way to resolve real estate disputes.