Vail Law: Let’s enjoy some quiet time
Quiet title and quiet enjoyment.
They really have nothing in common. Well, maybe just a bit. The nut, is what does “quiet” mean?
At law, it’s more than hush.
In plain English, “quiet” can mean “making no sound or noise.” But it can also mean, “free from disturbance or tumult; tranquil or peaceful.” Another spin on “quiet” is “to be at rest.” A little more esoterically perhaps, “quiet” can mean, “said, expressed or done.” It can be used in the sense of “allaying” fear, uncertainty or doubt.
When you hear the weather caster say, the forecast is for it to be “quiet,” tomorrow, she doesn’t mean the world will don its earplugs with the cock’s crow. Instead, she means the weather will be calm or tranquil.
Let’s take a peek at the different judicial definitions of quiet.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines the verb “quiet” as “to pacify; to render secure or unassailable by the removal of disquieting causes or disputes.” As an adjective, Black’s says “quiet” means “unmolested; tranquil; free from interference or disturbance.”
What then of where we started; what are “quiet” title and “quiet” enjoyment?
Maybe better said, what is a quiet title “action”?
In quiet, action
A quiet title action is a lawsuit initiated to establish a party’s title to real property against anyone and everyone, and thus “quiet” any challenges or claims to the title. “Title” means the legal chain of ownership. “Real” property means land and those things permanently affixed to it, such as houses, barns, garages, walls and driveways.
A quiet title suit usually arises when there is some question about clear title, there exists some recorded problem (such as an old lease or failure to clear title after payment of a mortgage), an error in description which casts doubt on the amount of property owned or an easement used for years without a recorded description.
An action for quiet title requires description of the property to be “quieted,” naming as defendants anyone who might have an interest (including descendants — known or unknown — of prior owners), and the factual and legal basis for the claim of title. Notice must be given to all potentially interested parties, including those known and unknown, by publication (usually in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the property is located). If the court is convinced that title is in the plaintiff (that is, the plaintiff owns the title), then a quiet title judgment will be granted which can be recorded and thus provide legal “good title.” Quiet title actions are a common example of friendly lawsuits in which there is often no opposition.
What a quiet title action does, to use one definition of the word “quiet,” is to “render secure or unassailable by the removal of disquieting causes or disputes.”
What, then, of quiet enjoyment?
Quiet enjoyment is the right to enjoy and use a premises (particularly a residence) in peace and without interference. Quiet enjoyment is often a condition included in a lease and guarantees that the tenant may peaceably enjoy possession. Thus, if the landlord unreasonably interferes with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment, then he or she may be sued for breach of the rental contract. Often, you will hear the right to quiet enjoyment referred to as the “covenant” of quiet enjoyment, a covenant being a promise in a written contract.
Disturbance of the right to quiet enjoyment by one other than the landlord may constitute a nuisance for which a lawsuit may be brought to halt the interference or obtain damages for the disturbance.
In the context of quiet enjoyment, the word quiet is employed to mean “unmolested; tranquil; free from interference or disturbance.”
Other kinds of ‘quiet’
Are there other “quiets” in the law?
Well, there is quiet in the courtroom, quiet while I cogitate, “quieta non movere” (which means not to unsettle things that are established), “quietare” (to quit, acquit, discharge or save harmless — a formal word sometimes found in old deeds of donation or other conveyances), “quiete clamantia” (in old English law, a quitclaim), “quiete calmare” (the verb, “to quitclaim”), “quietus” (in old English, a word used by the “clerk of the pipe,” and “auditors in exchequer” in their final discharge from a debt or obligation), and “quietus redditus” (a “quitrent” whereby a tenant is discharged from the payment of further rent). But all of these, outside of quiet title and quiet enjoyment are moldy and disused.
“Quiet” in modern law is confined to the two occurrences with which we started. One calms title and the other cocoons a tenant from being unreasonably bugged or nattered by his landlord.
Want to enjoy some quiet time at law?
Quiet can also mean just button it.
Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices Of Counsel in the Vail Valley with the Law Firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddison, Tharp & Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include: business, commercial transactions, real estate, development, family law, custody, divorce and civil litigation. Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his email address: Robbins@SLBLaw.com.
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