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Texas Suit to Quiet Title

©2014 Mark Courtois

This is an equitable action to remove a cloud from the title to property. A suit to remove cloud from title or suit to quiet title contrasts with an action for trespass to try title. Vernon v. Perrien, 390 S.W.3d 47, 61 (Tex. App. - El Paso 2012, pet denied.)(citing Katz v. Rodriguez, 563 S.W.2d 627, 629 (Tex. Civ. App.--Corpus Christi 1977, writ ref'd n.r.e.). A trespass-to-try-title action is statutory and accords a legal remedy, while a suit to remove cloud or to quiet title accords an equitable remedy. Id. The quiet title suit relies on the invalidity of the defendant's claim to the property. Perrien at 61(citing Essex Crane Rental Corporation v. Carter, 371 S.W.3d 366, 388 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, pet. denied); Longoria v. Lasater, 292 S.W.3d 156, 165 n.7 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 2009, pet. denied). This cause of action exists "to enable the holder of the feeblest equity to remove from his way to legal title any unlawful hindrance having the appearance of better right." Perrien at 61 (citing Essex at 388; Hahn v. Love, 321 S.W.3d 517, 531 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 2009, pet denied). A cloud on title exists when an outstanding claim or encumbrance is shown, which on its face, if valid, would affect or impair the title of the owner of the property. Perrien at 61. The effect of a suit to quiet title is to declare invalid or ineffective the defendant's claim to title. Id. The plaintiff has the burden of supplying the proof necessary to establish his superior equity and right to relief. Essex Crane at 388. The plaintiff must prove, as a matter of law, that he has a right of ownership and that the adverse claim is a cloud on the title that equity will remove. Id.

The elements of the cause of action to quiet title are: 1) an interest in a specific property, 2) title to the property is affected by a claim by the defendant, and 3) the claim, although facially valid, is invalid or unenforceable. Perrien at 61.