A quiet title action is a lawsuit to decide property interests, remove clouds from title, or to determine any adverse claim. “Quieting title” is a fancy way of saying resolve a title dispute. An example of when this claim is necessary is where neighbor A believes he has a prescriptive easement across neighbor B’s land, and neighbor B blocks off the easement because he believes he has superior title to neighbor A. Neighbor A can file a suit to assert his right to the the easement.
MD. Code Ann., Real Prop. §14-108 describes the elements to a quiet title action in Maryland:
“Any person in actual peacable possession of property, or, if the property is vacant and unoccupied, in constructive and peacable possession of it, either under color of title or claim of right by reason of his or his predecessor’s adverse possession for the statutory period, when his title to the property is denied or disputed, or when any other person claims, of record or otherwise to own the property, or any part of it, or to hold any lien encumbrance on it, regardless of whether or not the hostile outstanding claim is being actively asserted, and if an action at law or proceeding in equity is not pending to enforce or test the validity of the title, lien, encumbrance, or other adverse claim, the person may maintain a suit in equity in the county where the property lies to quiet or remove any cloud from the title, or determine any adverse claim.”
Here is my attempt at parsing out the elements of what must be proven to prevail in a quiet title action in Maryland from the above rule:
- Possession – Either Actual (person is present); or constructive (legal possession via ownership, adverse possession, or prescriptive easement) PLUS the property is vacant.
- Title is Denied or Disputed – i.e. someone claims a right to the property or does not let you on it.
- No other legal action for property rights is pending.
- The proper jurisdiction is the county where the propert lies.
Quiet Title Actions Against The Government And Public Officials
A quiet title action can be maintained against public officials or State agencies for taking private property without “just compensation.” Alternatively, a landlord may maintain a claim for inverse condemnation. The damages for a government taking is “fair market value” plus damages that may have been caused by the offender’s pre-condemnation conduct such as lost rents, carrying costs, or any other damages incurred.
A quiet title action may be joined with an action for possession of property or trespass to land.
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