Quiet Title Action
A quiet title action is a legal (court) proceeding to determine who owns which rights in a tract of land. The proceeding is generally initiated when there is a conflict or uncertainity as to who owns which legal interest in the tract, such as, more than one person claiming ownership of the property. A quiet title action -- as its name implies -- is a court proceeding wherein the court reviews each person's claim to the land and determines ownership; that is, the court's "quiets" any dispute over the ownership of the land by determining who holds which interest in the property.
A quiet title action is initiated by a person(s) (the plaintiff) who feels they have ownership interest in the land but are uncertain about the ownership interest of others. This person commences the legal proceeding against all other persons (known and unknown) who also claim an interest in the property (the defendants). Other persons who have a claim to the property (according to the public record) are directly notified of the legal proceeding (these are the known defendants). All other persons are notified of the quiet title action by publishing notice of the legal proceeding in the county official newspaper (these are the unknown defendants).
The plaintiffs must establish that they have a claim to the land and request that all others with a claim to the land appear in court to present their claim. A court hearing will be held at a specified time and all interested persons will be allowed to present information or evidence of their claim to the land. After hearing everyone describe their claim to the land, the judge will decide who holds which interests. The decision establishes the validity and extent of each person’s claim. Any person not appearing at the hearing will be determined as having no interest in the property.
Again, the purpose of the quiet title action is to determine each person’s interest in the land. The court's determination establishes the current ownership thus allowing the parties to proceed into the future confident that the ownership of the property has been determined and clarified as of the date of the court’s decision.
"Section 32-17-01, N.D.C.C., authorizes a person with an interest in real property to bring a quiet title action against any other person claiming an interest in the property to determine adverse claims. In State v. Amerada Petroleum Corp., this Court said a quiet title action is a direct action to determine what, if any, interest each party has in a tract of land, and a court's decision shall adjudicate the nature and extent of the parties' claims and shall determine the validity, superiority, and priority of the claims. See N.D.C.C. § 32-17-10." Dennison v. N.D. Dep't of Human Services, 2002 ND 39, 640 N.W.2d 447
N.D.C.C. 32-17-01. Action to determine adverse claims. An action may be maintained by any person having an estate or an interest in, or lien or encumbrance upon, real property, whether in or out of possession thereof and whether such property is vacant or unoccupied, against any person claiming an estate or interest in, or lien or encumbrance upon, the same, for the purpose of determining such adverse estate, interest, lien, or encumbrance.
N.D.C.C. 32-17-10. Trial - Findings - Possession - Costs. ... The court in its decision shall find the nature and extent of the claim asserted by the various parties, and shall determine the validity, superiority, and priority of the same ...