Real estate fraud is a real risk for any property owner. Finding out the ownership of your home or property is at risk because someone recorded a false document claiming an interest in the property is a difficult situation for anyone.
Arizona county recorders’ offices do not have requirements or ways to stop someone from filing a fraudulent deed on property in the state. They are just required to make sure that the correct documents are filed; they generally do not have the tools to verify the validity of those documents.
There are many examples of fraudulent documents that can be filed in Arizona that can negatively impact the rightful owner.
- A fraudulent deed could be filed to attempt an outright transfer of ownership of the property.
- False documents can also be filed to record a fraudulent easement or lien on the property.
Here are the facts about litigation on fraudulent deeds in Arizona that cannot be ignored by property owners.
Arizona Law Requires Written Contracts for Real Estate Transactions
In the state of Arizona, per the statute of frauds, all contracts for the sale of real property must be in writing and signed by the seller in order to be valid. This fact assists in pursuing a claim for filing a fraudulent deed on your property. While they might have created false documents to file with the county recorder, the absence of a written agreement for the sale or transfer of that property makes it more straightforward to prove you did not agree to the sale of the property.
It is vital to hire an experienced Arizona real estate attorney to pursue any claim as soon as you find out a fraudulent deed, easement or lien has been filed against your property. Someone attempting to steal a property with a fraudulent deed will generally attempt to sell the property to another party as quickly as possible. It is generally easier to resolve fraudulent deed claims before another party believes they have completed a valid transaction to purchase it.
Valid Arizona Real Estate Deeds Must Contain Certain Information
As mentioned above, valid agreements to transfer real property in Arizona must be in writing. Real estate deeds must include the name and signature of the grantor or an authorized agent, along with the grantee’s name and signature. The deed must include details of the type of document being used to transfer ownership of the property.
- There must be a clear granting clause which details the grantor’s intention to transfer ownership to the grantee.
- Every deed must also include a detailed and formal description of the property being conveyed.
- The deed must include the valid acknowledgement of a licensed notary. All of these required details assist in providing evidence to pursue a claim of filing a fraudulent deed.
Arizona Has Revised Statutes for Recording False Documents (A.R.S. 33-420)
property owners might look to their county recorder’s office to fix a fraudulent deed or document that was filed with it, its duties only include making sure all the correct documents have been included.
However, the county does not have to verify the validity of those documents. Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) 33-420 establishes the penalty of $5000 or the total of the damages to the property owner, whichever is greater, plus attorney’s fees if someone files fraudulent deeds or documents in regards to real property with a county recorder.
This establishes the path for recourse if fraudulent documents have been filed for your property. It is essential to remember the county recorder will not be able to simply fix the issue or remove the fraudulent documents once they have been filed; real estate counsel must be hired.
Arizona Has Online Databases for Real Estate Companies & Professionals
- The state of Arizona has multiple online databases available for looking to buy or sell property. The Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions allows users to make sure they are working with licensed providers for any mortgage or financing needs.
- The Arizona Department of Real Estate has a database of all active real estate agents and brokers that allows potential buyers and sellers to confirm they are working with licensed professionals.
Before working with any person or company on a real estate transaction in Arizona, make sure you take the time to verify they are licensed professionals. The simple fact that all licensed real estate and finance professionals are documented and their status is available online.
An Experienced Arizona Real Estate Attorney Can Help
It is understandable for people to panic if they find out they could lose their property to a fraudulent deed, but you must remember the facts and law are on your side if you timely work with an experienced real estate attorney to address the matter as soon as possible. Do not attempt to simply reason with the county recorder’s office or confront suspected perpetrator.
The attorneys at M&G will assess the details of any fraudulent documents impacting your property and work to restore your rightful ownership. Contact our experienced real estate attorneys today at 602-562-7218 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.