Quiet Title Lawsuit - Philadelphia PA - -

6 Replies

As will be obvious I am a real estate novice. I’m looking for suggestions on how to address a civil suit that has been filed against me. The suit is seeking to “Quiet Title”. The property involved, 1528 Leithgow St. Philadelphia, PA belongs to a Cecelia V O’Brien. I am involved because I was/am the executor of my Aunt Cecilia V O’Brien’s estate. In addition to this property I have a NJ Shore how which I rent out during the summer season.

As for the lawsuit. To the best of my and my siblings knowledge, our Aunt Ceil lived all of her life, from around age 2 until she enter an extended care facility at the age of 95 in 2005, in the house at 3156 Memphis St Philadelphia, PA, that I and my siblings grew up in.

At no point in any discussions, with I or my siblings, did my Aunt ever mention living in or owning a second house anywhere. (There is a second property at 1024 Leithgow St in the paper trail to the 1528 property.) My Aunt, until she passed away at 100, always has a completely clear mind. So we find it very difficult to think she just forgot a second house. Also, one thing our Aunt would never do is fail to pay any and all bills she was responsible for. I mention this because based on the suit, the 1528 Leithgow house went delinquent on tax and water payments around 1995. This is just not something our Aunt would do.

We just do not see how this house could be the property of our Cecilia V O’Brien’s.

Being a novice I would be interested in any opinions as to whether or not we should consider fighting this lawsuit.

I have researched the deed on 1528 Leithgow and 1024 Leithgow nothing obviously points to our Aunt Ceil.

Google 1528 North Leithgow St


Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.

@Gerald O'Brien a quiet title action means that there is uncertainty regarding who has legal claim to the property, and someone (likely an investor since 1528 N Leithgow St is a 500 sq ft vacant lot, not a house) is trying to buy it or establish their claim to it.  My advice is that your best course of action is to contact the investor who is trying to purchase it and offer for you and your siblings to sign a quit claim deed.  This relinquishes any claim that you have on the property, while not actively claiming you had any claim in the first place.  Depending on exactly the situation, the investor may be willing to pay you some money for your efforts as they may then be able to get title to the property more quickly and avoid court costs.  At any rate, you have nothing to lose by establishing a direct line of communication with whoever has filed the claim, and seeing what you can negotiate.  Best of luck!

I'm not a lawyer but I have pursued a few quiet title actions for my business. Based on the information given I would have to assume that your aunt may have been an heir to someone that owned the property at one point.  If you do not want anything to do with the property then you can answer and disclaim your interest. But since you have been served it will behoove you to see what they want and maybe even get paid for disclaiming your interest.  You should contact an attorney and have them respond to the quiet title action. Good luck.

@Gerald O'Brien

As an attorney that did a lot of quiet-title actions, there are 100 of reasons why the plaintiffs named your aunt as a defendant. It could be as simple as the fact that your aunt's name is similar to another person who has an interest in the property. 

It's hard to say just based on your post whether you should respond to the complaint or not. I would review it with an attorney. Note that the complaint should explain why the plaintiff named your aunt to the lawsuit. You should've received it along with other documents when you learned about this lawsuit. 

Disclaimer: While I’m an attorney licensed to practice in PA, I’m not your attorney. What I wrote above does not create an attorney/client relationship between us. I wrote the above for informational purposes. Do not rely on it as legal advice. Always consult with your attorney before you rely on the above information.

Thanks Chris and Ethan K for your replies.

My best guess would be an investor is attempting to purchase the property and the title company handling the settlement is unwilling to give them the clear to close because there is some sort of discrepancy about who has legal claim to the house. 

I've been apart of a quiet title suit before when our title company couldn't locate a death cert for an heir and we basically just had to show a judge all of the attempts we made to locate what we couldn't find. Once we waited a period of time (I believe it was 90 days after the first court appearance) the judge agreed we had exhausted all options and there was no chance of an heir coming out of the woodwork with legal claim to the property.

It was a very lengthy time consuming process and to be honest it was a pretty big pain in the ***. If you're okay with the property going to settlement I would just reach out to the potential buyers and help them get what they need. You're essential to them getting the clear to close so they would likely compensate you for signing a quitclaim deed.

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