LawRefs Customized Legal Information
Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Time Limit for Filing Quiet Title Action

Inquiry: What is a quiet title action and what is the time limit for filing a quiet title action in Michigan?

Response: A quiet title action is an action seeking to resolve a dispute over who has an interest in real property. (This does not include actions to recover possession of property under summary proceedings such as in a landlord-tenant relationship.) There are different time periods for filing the action depending on who is the plaintiff and who is the defendant, but generally speaking, the lawsuit must be filed within 15 years.

Michigan Compiled Law (“MCL”) 600.5801 Limitation on actions; time periods; defendant claiming title under deed, court-ordered sale, tax deed, or will; other cases.

Sec. 5801.

No person may bring or maintain any action for the recovery or possession of any lands or make any entry upon any lands unless, after the claim or right to make the entry first accrued to himself or to someone through whom he claims, he commences the action or makes the entry within the periods of time prescribed by this section.

(1) When the defendant claims title to the land in question by or through some deed made upon the sale of the premises by an executor, administrator, guardian, or testamentary trustee; or by a sheriff or other proper ministerial officer under the order, judgment, process, or decree of a court or legal tribunal of competent jurisdiction within this state, or by a sheriff upon a mortgage foreclosure sale the period of limitation is 5 years.

(2) When the defendant claims title under some deed made by an officer of this state or of the United States who is authorized to make deeds upon the sale of lands for taxes assessed and levied within this state the period of limitation is 10 years.

(3) When the defendant claims title through a devise in any will, the period of limitation is 15 years after the probate of the will in this state.

(4) In all other cases under this section, the period of limitation is 15 years.

If the state is involved, then see also, MCL 600.5821 Recovery of land; recovery of public ground; personal actions; maintenance, care, and treatment of persons in state institutions.

Sec. 5821

(1) Actions for the recovery of any land where the state is a party are not subject to the periods of limitations, or laches. However, a person who could have asserted claim to title by adverse possession for more than 15 years is entitled to seek any other equitable relief in an action to determine title to the land.

(2) Actions brought by any municipal corporations for the recovery of the possession of any public highway, street, alley, or any other public ground are not subject to the periods of limitations.

(3) The periods of limitations prescribed for personal actions apply equally to personal actions brought in the name of the people of this state, or in the name of any officer, or otherwise for the benefit of this state, subject to the exceptions contained in subsection (4).

(4) Actions brought in the name of the state of Michigan, the people of the state of Michigan, or any political subdivision of the state of Michigan, or in the name of any officer or otherwise for the benefit of the state of Michigan or any political subdivision of the state of Michigan for the recovery of the cost of maintenance, care, and treatment of persons in hospitals, homes, schools, and other state institutions are not subject to the statute of limitations and may be brought at any time without limitation, the provisions of any statute notwithstanding.

Additional Resources:
MCL 211.79a Abandoned property, action to quiet title
MCL 600.2932MCL 600.2932 controlling law quiet title
MCL 600.1605 MCL 600.1605 venue; Michigan Court Rule (“MCR”) 3.411 what to include in complaint
Beaulah Hoagland Appleton Qualifed Pers Residence Trust v Emmet County Rd Comm’n, 236 Mich App 546, 600 NW2d 698 (1999)
Ray v Bentley, 39 Mich App 578, 197 NW2d 827 (1972)
Republic Bank v Modular One LLC, 232 Mich App 444, 591 NW2d 335 (1998)
Related Actions: Adverse Possession, Acquiescence, Wrongful Ejectment MCL 600.2918, Partition MCR 3.401

Discussion:

  1. I bought my home for $92,000 cash. A few years later I lost it for $20,000 in unpaid property taxes and fees. I received a court notice for a quiet title suit requesting that I file an Answer. If I lost the property, why am I involved in the suit and what legal interest do I still have in the property?

    • Dear Latoya:

      I don’t know. You must file a timely answer and you may deny each allegation on the basis that you lack information to answer. You may commence your investigation by contacting the assessor’s office. You may have no interest but for some reason your name is still on the records and there is a simple solution.

  2. I purchased my home from an individual in November 2014, who purchased the home from the city through a tax sale. I’m trying to get a equity loan but I’m running into issues with the title company issuing a title. Would it be a good idea to get a quiet title?

    • Dear Tracie:

      Quieting title refers to a lawsuit to resolve the issues regarding title. Yes, if you can’t get a deed, then you may have to file an action to quiet title.

  3. We have a dispute over a 12-foot wide piece of property that had been used for accessing lake front. The person who is restricting access is a 1/4 mile from the frontage and claims ownership, however, neither a title search or a lawyer have uncovered proof of ownership. Could the quiet title process resolve ownership? The neighbors and I have been using this access for 70 years.

  4. My mother passed away and I received a life estate in her home. In 2005, the property was transferred to a Trust by my brother. In 2011, I was notified that State of Michigan went back to 2007 and decided that a transfer of ownership had occurred even though the transfer of ownership document was completed and it included reference to the life estate. The State sent my brother a questionnaire to which he did not respond within 30 days. I went to the Michigan Tax Tribunal and they decided they did not have jurisdiction. This prevented an Appeal to the Appeals Court. I wasn’t aware of what a PRE was and had only filed one in 2012 once I was told that I should. I successfully paid all of the property taxes during the years that I occupied but when the State went back to all the years that they say a transfer of ownership had occurred, even though I am considered an owner that had not been notified of there being a problem, there was a new total with fees and outrageous interest of now $14,000. Because my name is not on the deed, the Wayne County treasurer’s office says that I do not qualify for federal funds to help pay for this amount. Someone suggested that I file an action to quiet the title to force my name onto the deed. Do you think this would help me?

    • Dear Phyl:

      It sounds like that would be a good idea unless you can get the trustee to sign a proper deed. If they won’t, then consider suggesting that you will be requesting the court to award all your costs and fees from them for forcing you to go through the trouble and wasting the court’s time.

  5. My friend who is autistic, had joint ownership of a house, with his brother. I live in the house. So his brother would not kick me out, my friend quit claimed the property to me. Can this be overturned?

    • Dear Roy:

      It could be overturned if there was a legal reason to do so, such as your friend was under duress, or under a disability. If he was competent and freely signed the property over, then the deed should stand.

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