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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 116780
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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My elderly grandmother had a woman living on her property

Customer Question

My elderly grandmother had a woman living on her property against our family's wishes (she had parked a camper van on the property and lived in it). The woman defrauded my grandmother into signing over her property (land and trailer) in Panama City, FL without any consideration.
Shortly thereafter my grandmother was admitted into an assisted living home due to declining health and inability to care for herself.
Our family hired one attorney to work to obtain the property back. This attorney basically took our money and did nothing. We hired a second attorney. This attorney filed a complaint against the woman. When she did not respond to complaint the attorney went to file a motion of default. During this process the attorney discovered the woman signed the property over to a new owner one month prior to us hiring him.
1) I do not understand how he did not find this recorded information.
2) The new owner has recently evicted the women and beginning to clear the property.
3) What can be done to file some sort of injunction to stop this activity and what are the chances of recovery of the property? What needs to happen to get the property back?
4) How can we initiate criminal charges against the woman?
5) We do know that one of the witness that signed the original quit claim deed from my grandmother to the woman was not present when my grandmother signed the document. This person signed after and not in front of my grandmother.
Thank you for your help and guidance.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
You need to continue against the woman, because if the court finds she had no right to the property and did not legally acquire title, she then had no right to sell it to anyone else and you can get the sale rescinded.
Also, you need to contact Adult Protection Services, since this can be classified as financial abuse of the elderly and they will investigate and pursue criminal charges against the woman if required.
You need to continue with your suit and add in the new owner as well arguing they never acquired legal title, since the woman never had legal title to begin with to transfer and one cannot transfer what they do not have legal title to.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's my understanding there are recording statutes that protect subsequent purchasers who take ownership without knowledge that there is an issue with the title in certain states. The idea is that the subsequent purchaser had no way to know, so it would be unfair for them to lose the property. Does Florida have any such state statutes?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
That is correct only in that a recording of a deed in FL gives notice of ownership to innocent third parties, but that does not absolve her of her actions because she sold it and also, if your attorney checked and it was not filed at the time he initially filed suit that is another claim. Furthermore, even if it was recorded, if her deed is found void you can still attack the fact she did not have title to transfer to anyone so she did not transfer anything to the buyer.
Florida’s recording statute, F.S. §695.01, states, in part:
"No conveyance, transfer or mortgage of real property, or of any interest therein, nor a lease for a term of one year or longer, shall be good or effectual in law or equity against creditors or subsequent purchasers for a valuable consideration and without notice, unless the same be recorded according to law. "
You still have a right to fight to at least recover the value of the property from the woman who did this, at the very least.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. The concern is the woman who stole the property is basically a vagrant with no money or assets to recover the value of the property from her. We need to get the property back or be able to collect the value of it from the new owner and do not understand if this is possible.My grandmother unknowingly transferring her property has prevented her from receiving Medicaid benefits which has created a financial burden on our family with the nursing home care she is receiving. More importantly, it is the principle of the matter. It is wrong what this woman did too my grandmother and we want this to be situation to be made right. At the very least, can we press criminal charges against the woman?Thank you.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
You have the claim that because she had no valid deed, she had nothing she could have legally transferred and as such she did NOT legally transfer or sell the property with a false deed.
I also told you above, perhaps you missed it, you need to file a complaint for financial abuse of the elderly with Adult Protective Services, they investigate for criminal charges.

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