Title fraud can be a problem for homeowners in Florida, especially Broward County. The state’s laws allow individuals to submit a deed on a property to county offices without proof that they are the valid owner.
Fortunately, a property appraiser in Florida developed a program, Owner Alert, to help Broward County property owners prevent title fraud. You can find out more about this program and title fraud security by talking with our attorney at The Law Office of Gary M. Landau in Coral Springs, Broward County, Florida.
Title Fraud Cases in Florida
Individuals in Florida can commit title fraud more easily than one might think. The court’s record division has a legal requirement to accept any documents that a person files that is properly executed. Additionally, the recording office does not legally verify that the person listed on the deed truly owns the property.
The recording office will accept a document if it is:
- Signed by two witnesses
This means that unscrupulous individuals can draw up fake property deeds and file them. Legally, property owners do not have to be notified when this happens.
Results of Title Fraud
Why might a person engage in title fraud? Once a person has submitted a false deed, that individual may attempt to make decisions about someone else’s property. For example, they could:
- Sell the property
- Rent the property
- Mortgage the property
This problem has spread quickly throughout Florida. In 2018, a single group of individuals engaging in this form of fraud ended up stealing 44 homes. They took homes worth a combined total of $12 million. Six people were involved in this scheme, which focused on taking “distressed” homes.
The Owner Alert Program for Title Fraud
Title fraud represents a threat to property owners throughout Florida. Broward County Property Appraiser Marty Kiar recognized this threat and took steps to address the issue with a free program. Called “Owner Alert,” the software provides notifications regarding title issues for property owners.
Property owners must sign up online to use the free and easy service. Those who sign up for the service will receive immediate notifications anytime there is a title change on their property.
Kiar understood the necessity of this service due to his work as Broward County’s Property Appraiser. According to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, Kiar worked with Brian Allan, Director of Technology for the Property Appraiser’s Office, to develop the Owner Alert system in only eight months.
Effects of the Owner Alert System
Property owners need to set aside just five minutes to sign up for the service. To do so, you must provide your:
- Property ID (you can find that on the website of the Property Appraiser, BCPA.net)
- Driver’s license number
Kiar sent a letter to homeowners throughout Broward County that included their property ID. In doing so, he enabled and encouraged people to sign up for the service.
Other Services for Title Protection
Some for-profit companies offer annual services to protect property owners from ownership theft, but these services typically cost hundreds of dollars a year. The Owner Alert system from the Property Appraiser’s office is free of charge and available to all property owners in Broward County.
By March of 2021, 12,000 Broward County property owners had already signed up for the Owner Alert system. Other counties throughout southern Florida are considering the adoption of a similar strategy.
Work with a Real Estate Lawyer Now
Do you need help with any matters related to probates, wills, trusts, or real estate closings in Florida? Get in touch with the LAW OFFICE OF GARY M. LANDAU, P.A., a longstanding probate and real estate attorney.
Gary M. Landau has over 25 years of experience in probates, wills and trusts, and real estate closings in Florida. Call 954-417-1624 today to schedule a consultation at no cost. The law office sees clients in person, by phone, or by Zoom.
Copyright © 2021. LAW OFFICE OF GARY M. LANDAU, P.A. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction.