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Good Deeds Come Cheap (and sometimes, free)

Don’t Get Tricked into Paying More Than You Should for a Copy of Your Deed

If you’re a new homeowner in Florida, you may have received a letter in the mail offering to provide you with a copy of your property deed for a fee of $100.00 or more. If you have received such a letter, you may be thinking that you’re required to make this payment. You may also think that this seems like a reasonable price, especially if you’re not sure how to get a copy of your deed yourself. However, there’s a good chance that the letter you received is part of a predatory practice that looks to separate you from your hard-earned dollars. If you receive one of these letters you will likely be better off to simply disregard the letter and not respond.

Don’t be fooled

These types of letters are prepared in a manner to make you think they are legitimate. The letters these companies send out are often designed to look official. They may use government-looking logos and letterhead, and they may even include a clever reference to the name and address of your county clerk’s office. The letters may refer to themselves as “notices” in a self-validating effort. Make no mistake – the companies sending these letters are not affiliated with the government or any other official entity in Florida.

And while I believe these letters are highly predatory, I’ll stop short of calling them a “scam” as I’m sure the companies would love to actually follow through with their offer to mail you a copy of a deed for the extravagant price they’re asking. What is clear is that the senders of these letters are trying to make a profit by charging homeowners excessive fees for a document that can be easily obtained, and in many cases, for free.

Most, if not all County Clerks in Florida allow you to obtain an electronic pdf copy of your deed for free from their websites. If you require a certified copy of your deed for some reason they can be obtained from the clerks’ offices for fraction of the price that the companies are charging for a non-certified copy (in my many years of being a practicing attorney, including as a Board Certified Real Estate Lawyer in Lakewood Ranch, I can’t think of one instance in which a certified copy of a deed was needed).

Here are 5 things to watch out for when looking at these types of letters:

  1. The letter looks official. The letter may use government-looking logos and letterhead, and it may even include the name and address of your county clerk’s office. This is done to trick you into thinking that the letter is legitimate.
  2. The letter demands payment. The letter may demand payment of a fee for a copy of your deed, even though copies of deeds are typically free from the county clerk’s office.
  3. The letter imposes a sense of urgency. The letter may say that you need to act immediately to get a copy of your deed, or that your property is in jeopardy if you don’t act. This is a scare tactic to pressure you into paying the fee.
  4. The letter is from a company you’ve never heard of. If you’ve never heard of the company that is sending you the letter, be suspicious. Legitimate companies that offer copies of deeds will be well-known and reputable.
  5. The letter may have grammatical errors or typos. Deceptive letters are sometimes poorly written, with grammatical errors and typos. This is a sign that the letter is not from a legitimate source, such as a governmental agency.

Finally, rest assured that if Battaglia Law, PLLC handled your real estate closing, you received a copy of your deed immediately following closing. And if you are in need of a Florida real estate lawyer to close your real estate transaction, please reach out, as we’d love to be of assistance.

Thanks for reading.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post and I appreciate your interest in my firm. Please consider signing up for the Battaglia Law Newsletter to receive notifications about posts similar to this, along with other helpful updates.

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