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Unlike some states, there is no explicit statute of limitation for quiet title actions in Utah. However, this does not mean a statute of limitation won’t apply to your case. Determining whether a statute of limitations applies, and what the statute of limitation is, depends on your facts.

What is a Quiet Title Action?

Generally speaking, a quiet title action is a claim to establish an ownership interest in real property and/or to remove adverse claims from the property’s title.

What is a Statute of Limitation?

A statute of limitation is the time period that a person has to file a claim against another person. Fail to file within this window, and your claim may be dismissed. The clock on a statute of limitation begins to run at the time of the act giving rise to the claim took place. For example, if you’re suing a person for breach of contract, the clock starts ticking when the person violated the terms of the contract.

Statute of limitations vary depending on the type of claim, with claims such as negligence (4 years) offering filers a longer window than those for libel (1 year).

“True” Quiet Title Actions

The Utah Supreme Court has held that “true” quiet title actions are not subject to a statute of limitations.[1] A “true” quiet title action is a claim brought by an individual who already has an existing title to the property to remove an adverse claim from the property.[2] For example, say you own a home and discover that 5 years earlier another individual recorded a notice of interest on your property without your knowledge. Soon thereafter, you file claim to remove that notice of interest, thereby “quieting” your title. In this instance, the court must only determine the validity of the adverse claim on the property and no statute of limitations would apply.

Other Quiet Title Actions

Quiet title actions in which an individual asserts an adverse or hostile claim against the property and asks the court to undo an existing title and award title to the property to them are not “true” quiet title actions.[3] In these cases, the court is required to do more than simply determine the validity of the claim against the property. Instead, the court must rule in favor of the individual asserting the quiet title action on the separate claim giving rise to the quiet title action and undue an existing title[4]. In these cases, the court is required to apply the statute of limitation that applies to that underlying claim.

For example: an elderly couple sells their home to a buyer. Some years later, after the couple has passed away, the elderly couple’s granddaughter files a quiet title action against the buyer. The granddaughter claims that the buyer exerted undue influence over her grandparents in purchasing the house. The granddaughter asks the court to invalidate the sale and to award title to her as the sole beneficiary of her grandparent’s estate. In this case, the court would apply the statute of limitations for undue influence (4 years), to the quiet title action. If the granddaughter filed the claim more than 4 years after the sale of her grandparent’s home, her quiet title claim will likely be dismissed.

If you have any questions related to the statute of limitations for quiet title actions in Utah, I would be happy to answer them.

[1] See In re Hoopiiana Trust, 2006 UT 53, ¶ 26, 144 P. 3d 1129.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id. at ¶ 27.

Chase Ames
Chase B. Ames
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