When business partners want to go their separate ways, they dissolve their partnership. When a couple wants to end their marriage, they get divorced. But what happens when property owners want to split? They turn to Georgia’s rules of partition and quiet title actions.
When two or more people jointly own a piece of property, and they disagree about how to divide that property, those parties can initiate a partition action. Under Georgia law, a partition is when the court steps into the disagreement and has the land divided by court order. There are two ways of resolving a partition lawsuit: by equitable partition or statutory partition.
When a dispute arises between property owners, any one of those owners can ask the court for an equitable partition. The court will decide how to physically divide the property – or else sell the property and divide the proceeds. Equitable partition is only available if the parties can prove that no other remedy or law is available to them. Typically, the court will decide an equitable partition case in one proceeding.
Statutory partition actions are the more common partition action. Any of the joint owners can file the action in court. In a statutory partition action, the landowner asks the court for a Writ of Partition, in accordance with a detailed statutory procedure. In other words, the owner wants the court to follow Georgia’s real estate rules and regulations in justly and equally dividing the property. If the land cannot be equally divided, Georgia law provides a means by which the property can be appraised and sold.
Quiet Title Actions
When two or more people are in dispute about who owns a piece of real estate, the parties can use Georgia’s quiet title laws to address the problem. With a quiet title action, the court will decide who the actual owner of the property is and whether any deeds, security interests, liens, or easements are valid. The court order establishes the property owner’s rights and prevents the opposing party from making any subsequent claims to the land. Georgia recognizes two types of quiet title cases: equitable quiet title and statutory quiet title.
Equitable Quiet Title
An equitable quiet title action, also known as a conventional proceeding quia timet, is often used in situations where the court needs to declare or remove a lien or recorded interest, and there is a small, specific group of persons involved. The court will deliver or cancel any real estate instrument that “casts a cloud” (an apparent right) over the plaintiff’s property title. This includes real estate cases concerning questionable deeds or obscure property lines.
Statutory Quiet Title
A statutory quiet title action, also known as a quia timet against the world, is when the court determines the property rights against people known or unknown. Any party who claims an interest in the property can bring an action – they do not have to be currently residing on, using, or in possession of the property. With this action, the Georgia court will appoint a Special Master who will provide notice to all interested parties and will investigate the validity of the claims. The court will base its decision upon the Special Master’s findings; the court’s decision quiets title and binds the true owner to the property.
Have Additional Questions? Contact Our Real Estate Team
Property disputes are rarely ever simple. They involve a wide array of complicated legal issues and important individual rights. To protect the property owner’s rights and interests, it’s important to have the guidance of an experienced real estate attorney. If you have questions about partition actions, quiet title actions, or other real estate disputes, please reach out to us at (770) 933-9009 or via our online contact page. Our real estate team would be happy to help.