Buying real estate in Florida can sometimes be frustrating, and this is especially true when the property involved does not have a clear title. These problems often occur after a property has been purchased at a tax deed sale. Tax deed sales are public auctions held to collect delinquent property taxes. When real estate is sold in this way, the interests of lien and mortgage holders are overridden by the sale, but their claims are not automatically removed from the title. To obtain a clear title, the new property owner must either initiate a quiet title action or seek title certification.
Quiet title actions
A quiet title action is a type of lawsuit, which means that the defendant must be informed of the proceedings and given time to prepare a response. If the defendant responds, the matter is resolved in court. If the defendant does not respond, the plaintiff prevails and is granted a clear title. While this solves the problem, the process often takes two months to complete even if the defendant does not contest the lawsuit.
Quiet title actions may also be taken by real estate owners who acquire properties through quitclaim deeds. This is a type of transaction where the interest in a property is transferred without a clear title. Title defects that a quiet title action could resolve include:
- Shared driveways or other easements
- Boundary disputes
- Problems with the property’s deed
- Ownership claims
- Satisfied liens that still appear on the title
Legal help with title issues
Properties purchased at tax deed sales can be attractive investments, but dealing with some of the legal and administrative matters involved can be a complex and challenging process. If you have purchased a property or are thinking about purchasing one that may have title defects, an attorney with experience in this area could explain the legal options available to you and their advantages and drawbacks. An attorney could file a quiet title action and advocate on your behalf in court if the defendant contests your claim, and they could also suggest resolving these issues through title certification if possible as it is a faster and less expensive option.