A quiet title action is one where you are clearing up title, or ownership to real estate. We call, whenever somebody puts something on title, or records something against the title, we call that slander of title, or it can create a cloud on title is the legal term. What we do when we file quiet title action, is we want to quiet that down, and we want to say, “Here is a court order, and this order says this person, or this company, or couple, owns this property”, so it clears up any disputes as to ownership of property. In those types of cases, there can be various scenarios, lots of different types of scenarios in quiet title actions. Recently, we worked on a case where there was a mine property that was owned by several people sixty years ago.
Many of those people have since died, and so if the property was never probated, we had deceased individuals on title. We have to file a lawsuit to get those deceased people off, and to get their heirs on, that is just one example.Another example was a couple who came in, they lived in a house for over forty years, and it was in his grandmother’s name. It had never transferred to his parents, and then from his parents to him. In order to do that, we have to go through court to clean up the title. There is a theory in law, called Adverse Possession.
In Adverse Possession, what we do is we have to show that there has been open, notorious, continuous, and uninterrupted possession of the property for at least seven years, and the person who has occupied that property, who has paid taxes on that property for seven years.If you do that, you can essentially adversely possess the property, and obtain ownership through a court action, called Adverse Possession. Therefore, there are many different methods to go about clearing up a title, and it really depends on the facts of each case, as to how we move forward clearing up the title when there is a dispute.
What Are Some Other Areas Of Real Estate Law That You Handle?
One of the other areas would be breach of contract in real estate cases. So in Utah, typically buyers, and sellers of real estate will use what is called a REPC, it is short for Real Estate Purchase Contract. They are forms that have been put out by the Board of Realtors in the state of Utah. In addition, if people follow that form, most of the time they are going to be all right. You do not have to use that form, you can use a purchase, and sell agreement, or another type of form. Nevertheless, anytime you want to buy, or sell real estate, it needs to be in writing. If it is not in writing, it is not valid. There is no such thing as an oral contract to purchase, or sell real estate. If you try to enforce such a thing, you would fail in court you would not prevail. However, anytime a seller or a buyer breaches the contract, or fails to follow through, the contract will specify as to what the damages could be. Whether mediation is appropriate and how to proceed to get earnest money, or to force somebody to purchase it, or to force somebody to sell, all of those things will be listed in the contract. Therefore, we do those types of real estate breach of contract cases on a regular basis.
Another area in real estate is fraud cases. We have a case right now pending where an individual sold three houses, and was told that she never needed to look at them. She was told that tenants occupied them all, and they were turnkey investment properties. She paid for these properties on her credit card, because he told her that she should put them on her credit card, and she did that and then when she got the property, she discovered that there were no tenants. Two were unoccupied, one had a vagrant living in it. Therefore, she ended up having bought these houses, but the information was not accurate. Therefore, the paperwork was fine, but the individual had committed fraud by telling her a bunch of things that simply were not true, and coerced her into purchasing these properties. We have that litigation case pending.
We also do evictions for property owners. Whether it is a commercial eviction, or residential case, there are different rules that apply depending on what type of leases you use, whether it is a commercial, residential tenant, those things are important. It is also important for the property owner; in certain areas in Utah, what is called a Good Landlord Program. We want to make sure that the proprietor is in those programs for better benefits. They get lower application fees, business license fees, and things like that every year. Therefore, briefly we handle these real estate cases.
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