2005 Connecticut Code - Sec. 47-31. Action to settle title or claim interest in real or personal property.

      Sec. 47-31. Action to settle title or claim interest in real or personal property. (a) An action may be brought by any person claiming title to, or any interest in, real or personal property, or both, against any person who may claim to own the property, or any part of it, or to have any estate in it, either in fee, for years, for life or in reversion or remainder, or to have any interest in the property, or any lien or encumbrance on it, adverse to the plaintiff, or against any person in whom the land records disclose any interest, lien, claim or title conflicting with the plaintiff's claim, title or interest, for the purpose of determining such adverse estate, interest or claim, and to clear up all doubts and disputes and to quiet and settle the title to the property. Such action may be brought whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to the immediate or exclusive possession of the property.

      (b) The complaint in such action shall describe the property in question and state the plaintiff's claim, interest or title and the manner in which the plaintiff acquired the claim, interest or title and shall name the person or persons who may claim the adverse estate or interest. In any such action the plaintiff may join as defendants any unknown person or persons who claim or may claim any rights, title, estate or interest in or lien or encumbrance on the property described in the complaint, adverse to that of the plaintiff, whether the claim or possible claim be vested or contingent. If in the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that there are or that there may be persons who have or may have some right, title, estate or interest in or lien or encumbrance on the real or personal property but the persons cannot be located or are unknown to the plaintiff, or both, and describes the actual or possible estate or interest of such person or persons, and how derived, so far as may be known to him from a reasonable search of the available land records or otherwise, he may join as defendants all unknown persons who may have made any such claim by stating in the summons, after setting forth the names of known claimants, the words, "and all unknown persons, claiming or who may claim any rights, title, interest or estate in or lien or encumbrance upon the real property described in this complaint, adverse to the plaintiff, whether such claim or possible claim be vested or contingent", and it shall not be necessary to set forth therein any further description of the unknown person or persons. If, there are no known claimants, or possible claimants, to the property described in the complaint, the action shall be deemed to be maintained against all unknown persons claiming or who may claim any rights, title, estate, or interest, or lien or encumbrance upon the real or personal property described in the complaint, adverse to that of the plaintiff, whether the claim be vested or contingent, and the action may be prosecuted to judgment in the same manner and with like effect as though there had been known claimants or possible claimants designated as party defendants.

      (c) If the plaintiff or his attorney annexes to the complaint in any such action an affidavit setting forth such facts and in addition sets forth the efforts which were made to ascertain the names and addresses as well as the interest or estates of the unknown persons, the court to which the action is brought or a judge thereof may make such order relative to the notice which shall be given in such cause as the court or judge deems reasonable. That notice having been given according to the order and duly proven shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction of all such unknown persons and the court may proceed to a hearing of the cause at any time that it deems proper. The court shall not be required to appoint any guardian or other person to represent such unknown persons under any legal disabilities and all such persons shall be concluded by any decree or judgment in respect to the real or personal property involved in the action.

      (d) Each defendant shall, in his answer, state whether or not he claims any estate or interest in, or encumbrance on, the property, or any part of it, and, if so, the nature and extent of the estate, interest or encumbrance which he claims, and he shall set out the manner in which the estate, interest or encumbrance is claimed to be derived.

      (e) No judgment for costs shall be rendered in such action against any defendant, who, by his answer, disclaims all estate or interest in or encumbrance on such property, but costs shall be taxed in his favor at the discretion of the court; and the court shall, in any such case, without further proof, render judgment that such defendant has no estate, interest in or encumbrance on such property or any part of it.

      (f) The court shall hear the several claims and determine the rights of the parties, whether derived from deeds, wills or other instruments or sources of title, and may determine the construction of the same, and render judgment determining the questions and disputes and quieting and settling the title to the property.

      (1949 Rev., S. 7120; 1969, P.A. 353; P.A. 75-38; P.A. 79-602, S. 50.)

      History: 1969 act added provision re required procedure with respect to unknown persons who may claim interest in subject matter of the action; P.A. 75-38 restated provisions added by 1969 act; P.A. 79-602 divided section into Subsecs. and made minor changes in wording.

      Statute valid; meaning of "court"; nature of adverse claims. 68 C. 273; 78 C. 100; 98 C. 554. Receiver seeking to have land freed from fraudulent mortgage should not proceed under this statute. 74 C. 368. Action does not lie where suit in ejectment for same land is pending; 76 C. 542; but under present statute does lie although plaintiff is ousted of possession. 105 C. 83; 109 C. 310; id., 451. If action is used in place of ejectment suit, rules governing latter to be applied. 77 C. 30. Right to jury trial. 78 C. 100; 90 C. 133. Law explained; should only be used where there is no other legal remedy. 78 C. 369. Pleadings. 80 C. 330. Plaintiff must prevail on the strength of his own title; Id., 347; and if complaint fails to uphold it, demurrer lies. Id., 363. Receivership to collect rents pending action. 85 C. 434. Effect of amendment of 1915. 90 C. 73; 91 C. 500; 105 C. 83. Cestui que trust cannot use this statute to secure judgment determining effect of will creating trust. 90 C. 64; 91 C. 500. Costs are in discretion of court. 92 C. 345. Title to land under water and to riparian rights may be determined. 93 C. 506. "Cloud on title" defined. Id., 664. "Matter in demand", as determining jurisdiction of action to remove invalid lien, is amount claimed under it; and it suffices if this appears anywhere in pleadings. 95 C. 66. Proper pleadings. Id., 399. Form of pleading. 78 C. 96, 129; Id., 369; 99 C. 127; 105 C. 84. Is available to one out of possession. 105 C. 83. Title as affected by validating acts. 109 C. 307. Giving effect to reverter does not impose a forfeiture. Id., 529. Broadened scope of this statute. 110 C. 214. Action to remove mortgage brought improperly under this statute. 117 C. 39. Judgment removing building restrictions would remove them for all time and in this regard it differs from an action to enjoin breach of restrictions. Id., 187. Validity of lien tested. 132 C. 551. One to whom property is transferred pending action may be joined as party plaintiff. 123 C. 372. Attorney who prosecuted action involving real estate acquired no right of lien. Id., 374. Cited. 134 C. 427; 137 C. 646. Where defendant makes no claim until evidence is all in, that plaintiff failed sufficiently to set forth in his complaint the nature of his claim, title or interest, court will decline to entertain claim. 134 C. 663. In complaint, ownership or interest of plaintiff in land must be stated and plaintiff must prove that this title or interest is in actual controversy. 146 C. 288. Plaintiff's proof of an interest necessary to enable him to maintain an action under this section is technically distinct from his proof of facts necessary to entitle him to an affirmative adjudication in his favor. 147 C. 689. Party can obtain an adjudication of title or interest in himself only on the strength of his own title or interest as distinguished from the weakness of the title or interest of his adversaries. Id. Added claims for damages and appropriate equitable relief may be included in complaint. Id. Cited. 149 C. 129. An exclusive possession maintained over a marked and readily visible area without the consent or license of the owner may result in the acquisition of title by adverse possession even though the adverse possessor may have believed he was not assuming a possession to which he was not entitled. 151 C. 357, 358. Trial court's judgment that defendant or its assignee was title owner set aside where assignee not made party to action. Court failed to make positive and precise determination of where title lies which this section requires. 155 C. 287. Plaintiffs, having failed to prove title in themselves by adverse possession, could not question title of defendant and there was no error in judgment of trial court finding issues for defendant. Id., 327. Recognition will be given to expressed intent of parties to deed in which there is ambiguity. To determine meaning of what parties said, testimony of parties was permitted where granting and habendum clauses were patently ambiguous. Requirements for answer and judgment in actions to quiet title reviewed. 156 C. 12. Action may be brought under section by executor to determine validity of option to purchase her real estate given by decedent as section applies to personalty as well as realty. Id., 175. Right-of-way appurtenant cannot be created without dominant as well as servient estate; hence plaintiff has burden of proving her predecessor in title owned her land on date he reserved right-of-way in his deed to defendant's predecessor in title. Id., 387. Where executor seeks to institute action to quiet title to real property without alleging and proving that property is needed to settle claims against estate, requirements of section are not met, nor does his statutory power of "possession, care and control" over his decedents' realty alone amount to interest sufficient to satisfy requirements of section. 159 C. 371, 375, 376. Failure of defendant banks to plead the nature and extent of their interest in the property was not detrimental to any of the parties since the banks which took mortgages on the property admit the title of the mortgagor and therefore have an interest essentially identical to the other defendants. 175 C. 308, 310. Title to portion of proposed street could be acquired by adverse possession since town had not expressly or implicitly accepted it for public use. 180 C. 274, 275. Cited. 181 C. 367, 375; id., 454, 455. Cited. 183 C. 289, 292. Cited. 211 C. 36, 37. Cited. 215 C. 68, 70.

      Statute is construed as requiring a determination of record title before issue of adverse possession is reached; standard of proof for proving title by adverse possession is "clear and positive proof". Court held "clear and positive" should be equated with "clear and convincing". 1 CA 481, 482, 488. Cited. 2 CA 715, 720. Cited. 3 CA 429, 431. Cited. 7 CA 522, 525. Cited. 10 CA 54, 58. Cited. 13 CA 101-104, 110. Cited. 27 CA 208, 211. Cited. 40 CA 404, 405. Cited. 42 CA 682. Cited. 43 CA 1. Cited. Id., 105. Cited. 44 CA 683. Sufficiency of chain of title tested. 49 CA 789.

      Where party is seeking reformation of a recorded deed and not seeking an action to quiet title, he cannot be required to cite in a stranger to whom he has previously deeded the land. 13 CS 1. Cited. Id., 416; 15 CS 465. Defendant's demurrer attacking legal sufficiency of plaintiff's replication overruled. Parties should both file substituted pleadings which comply exactly with mandate of this section. 27 CS 349. Cited. 34 CS 31, 45. Cited. 42 CS 279, 286. Cited. 44 CS 189-191, 199, 204-206. Cited. 44 CS 451.

      Circuit court lacks jurisdiction of actions to quiet title. 4 Conn. Cir. Ct. 15, 16, 21.

      Subsec. (a):

      Cited re action to quiet title re conflicting deed provisions. 62 CA 551.

      Subsec. (b):

      Cited. 27 CA 208, 213. Cited. 42 CA 682.

      Subsec. (c):

      Cited. 40 CA 404, 407.

      Subsec. (f):

      Cited. 219 C. 36, 37.

      Cited. 1 CA 481, 488. Cited. 13 CA 101, 110, 111.

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