A lawsuit over the rightful ownership of a piece of property in Arkansas has made national headlines because it involves Josh Duggar, the well-known former star of the reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting.” It’s a spectacular example of how not to handle a quiet title action.
When there are questions about who actually owns a piece of real estate, quiet title actions essentially ask the court to resolve any conflicts. They’re commonly used in cases where a deed wasn’t recorded properly way in the past, so they’re often not particularly adversarial. This case, however, involved an actual dispute between two people: Duggar, and the man who had been living on the property since 2006 and claimed to be its rightful owner.
According to reports, the man living on the property claims he had paid his cousin $17,500 for the real estate in 2006. While a deed had never been recorded in his name, he had lived there and paid the property taxes since that time. In 2016, however, Duggar paid the man’s cousin $1,000 for the property and tried to claim ownership. The defendant, naturally, fought back.
The case abruptly ended, however, because Duggar missed his court date on the quiet title action. That may have something to do with the fact that the defendant’s cousin who sold him the property also failed to respond to the court’s notice. Duggar now owed $5,000 for attorney fees over the action.
This case has several big lesson that people can learn from it. First, you should never buy a property without fully inspecting it and having a proper title search done — just in case there are tenants on it that you aren’t aware are there. Second, if you buy a piece of property, make sure that you have the title properly recorded so that someone doesn’t come along later and try to stake a claim against you. Finally, if you do end up in court, don’t miss the hearing. You’ll lose.
All of these problems could have been avoided if the parties in this case had used a real estate attorney in the very beginning. Don’t make similar mistakes when it’s your turn to buy property.