May 31, 2018

A.R.S. 33-420: Fraudulently Recorded Documents

In Arizona, there are no real protections that prevent a person from fraudulently recording documents with the county recorder. I could literally quit claim deed the Arizona State Capital building to myself and the county will record it. The recorder’s office does not have the ability or duty to confirm that the documents are legitimate and so this can cause real problems. There are multiple occasions where I’ve had a client come into my office panicked because some type of fraudulent document had been recorded involving one of their properties. I’ve seen cases where easements were added without the owner’s knowledge or permission. Plus I’ve seen parcels split or property completely transferred to another person!!!

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF SOMEONE RECORDS A FRAUDULENT DOCUMENT?

Arizona law won’t prevent someone from wrongfully recording documents against your property. However, Arizona provides strict punishment for those who wrongfully record documents with the county recorder. A.R.S. § 33-420(C) provides for damages against the person who wrongly recorded the document. It allows for a minimum penalty of $1,000, or for treble the actual damage suffered, and attorney's fees.

A.R.S. § 33-420 states:

A. A person purporting to claim an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property, who causes a document asserting such claim to be recorded in the office of the county recorder, knowing or having reason to know that the document is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid is liable to the owner or beneficial title holder of the real property for the sum of not less than five thousand dollars, or for treble the actual damages caused by the recording, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees and costs of the action.

B. The owner or beneficial title holder of the real property may bring an action pursuant to this section in the superior court in the county in which the real property is located for such relief as is required to immediately clear title to the real property as provided for in the rules of procedure for special actions. This special action may be brought based on the ground that the lien is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid. The owner or beneficial title holder may bring a separate special action to clear title to the real property or join such action with an action for damages as described in this section. In either case, the owner or beneficial title holder may recover reasonable attorney fees and costs of the action if he prevails.

C. A person who is named in a document which purports to create an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property and who knows that the document is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid shall be liable to the owner or title holder for the sum of not less than one thousand dollars, or for treble actual damages, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees and costs as provided in this section, if he wilfully refuses to release or correct such document of record within twenty days from the date of a written request from the owner or beneficial title holder of the real property.

D. A document purporting to create an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property not authorized by statute, judgment or other specific legal authority is presumed to be groundless and invalid.

E. A person purporting to claim an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property, who causes a document asserting such claim to be recorded in the office of the county recorder, knowing or having reason to know that the document is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
If someone has recorded a fraudulent document on one of your Arizona pieces of real estate then you need to contact Arizona Real Estate Attorney Clint Dunaway at: 480-344-4035 or email at cdunaway@davismiles.com.





May 11, 2018

Lake Havasu City Justice Court

Yesterday I attended a hearing at the Lake Havasu City Justice Court in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The Court's address is: 2001 College Dr., Suite # 148 Lake Havasu City, Arizona 86403.

As you can see below it's not the most beautiful court house in Arizona but I guess it gets the job done!

 

Lake Havasu City Justice Court's phone number is: 928-453-0705.