What is a Quiet Title Action Alleging Co-Ownership?
Quiet Title in California is under the authority of the California Code of Civil Procedure §760.010 – §764.010. Quiet title actions are one of the most common types of real estate litigation. A quiet title action (also known as action of quiet title) is a lawsuit filed to establish or find resolution of title to real property between adverse parties. Quiet title causes of action arise when multiple parties claim ownership of or title to a property, and an owner seeks a declaratory judgment from the court “quieting title.” Indeed: “A bona fide purchaser without notice may seek a legal determination through a quiet title action that the title it obtained remains free and clear of any adverse interest in the property.” Vasquez v. LBS Financial Credit Union (2020) 52 Cal.App.5th 97, 107. Quite title actions are used to establish a clear title, remove unknown parties, or challenge anything clouding the title on property ranging from commercial to residential and even vacant land. As explained in our blog post on title vs. deed, a party in a quiet title action can be added to title regardless of whether the record owner executed a deed. Ownership and title disputes can thus be resolved through a quiet title action.
Our attorneys bring great expertise to partition actions in California alleging co-ownership. This includes actions where one party is on the deed, but another party alleges that two or more owners should be on title.
When to File a Quiet Title Action Alleging Co-Ownership
There are many reasons why quiet title actions may arise when there are allegations of co-ownerships. Some common reasons include:
- Constructive Trust
- Resulting Trust
- Mistakes in Escrow
- Tenant-in-Common Agreement that is Unrecorded
When a quiet title action is filed successfully, they typically result in a court order that establishes exactly which parties have a valid co-ownership interest in the property in question. If you are involved in a conflict over ownership of a property or who has a legitimate claim to it, a quiet title action may be appropriate.
The Process of a Quiet Title Action
Quiet title actions must be filed in local Superior Court where the real property, or any part of it, is located. To begin the lawsuit, the plaintiff (usually the lender or homeowner) files a complaint with the court followed by a Notice of Pendency of Action (Lis Pendens), meaning “notice of pending action,” that is recorded with the county recorder and filed with the court. The complaint must be verified and the complaint must cover several requirements:
- A description of the property subject of the quiet title action
- The plaintiff must name as defendants all persons known or unknown claiming an interest in the property
- The title of the plaintiff as to which a determination of quiet title is sought. If the complaint is based on adverse possession, the complaint must allege the specific facts constituting the adverse possession
- The adverse claims to the plaintiff’s title
- Whether the title is being determined as of the date of the complaint or another date
- A prayer for the determination of the plaintiff’s title against adverse claims
In response to the complaint, the defendant files an answer, which also must include certain necessary information, such as:
- Defendant’s claim to the title
- Facts in dispute
- Statement of any new information creating a defense to the action
Once both sides have presented their information and claims, the court makes a resolution and issues a judgment that binds all of the parties involved. The title company must receive the judge’s order and all related documents in order to issue the title policy for the property.
When to Consult a Quiet Title Lawyer for Co-Ownership Disputes
The main objective of a quiet title action is to attain clear ownership of the property, and to settle any flaws found in a property title search. Filing an action for a quiet title is not always easy and straightforward. A skilled attorney who specializes in real estate examine your title, can review title search results and is able to assist in obtaining a title insurance policy. This will ensure that you are protected against possible clouds on title and will know exactly what needs to be done to clear any title defects. Because conflicts in property ownership may possibly lead to litigation, it is wise to consult a partition attorney regarding your case.
Partition of Equitable Co-Ownership Interests
The partition statutes make clear that: “The interests of the parties, plaintiff as well as defendant, may be put in issue, tried, and determined in the action.” Code Civ. Proc. § 872.610; see Determination of Interests, 12 Witkin, Summary 11th Real Prop (2022) § 70.
“An equitable interest is sufficient to support a partition action.” Powers v. Powers (1963) 221 Cal.App. 2d 746, 750; see Capuccio v. Caire (1922) 189 Cal. 514, 525–26 (“the legal or equitable owners of their respective interests in said real property,…were, therefore, entitled to institute and maintain this action for the partition of said real property”); Demetris v. Demetris (1954) 125 Cal.App. 2d 440, 445 (“In such action the parties may assert any title they have, legal or equitable, and the court will decree what is equitable and proper”); Murphy v. Crowley (1903) 140 Cal. 141, 145 (“The owner of an equitable title is the owner of real property, and may maintain an action to establish his equitable right, and in the same action obtain a partition of the real property to which he claims a complete title in equity.”); Luco v. De Toro (1981) 91 Cal. 405 (“in this action for a partition there can be no doubt that the parties may assert any title which they have, legal or equitable”).
Indeed, to avoid “litigation by piecemeal,” there is “no reason why the owner of the equitable title may not sue to establish his right, and when so established, if he is a tenant in common, ask for and have a partition of the common estate….” Watson v. Sutro (1890) 86 Cal. 500, 528–29.
Contact a Quiet Title Co-Ownership and Partition Attorney in California Today
No one should be fighting a quiet title battle on their own. Our real estate partition action attorneys have vast experience in quiet title co-ownership actions with cases throughout the State of California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Riverside, San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno, and Surrounding Areas in California. Call the experienced real estate attorneys at Talkov Law at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568) or contact us online for a free consultation about your case!
Talkov Law's Partition Attorneys Can Help
If you want to end your co-ownership relationship, but your co-owner won’t agree, a partition action is your only option. With six, full time partition lawyers, Talkov Law is the #1 partition law firm in California and has handled 250 partition actions throughout California. Every case has resulted in a sale to either a third party or one of the co-owners. Not a single court has denied our clients the right to partition or declared our client to be a non-owner. Plus, for qualified cases, there is no fee until we settle or win your case!