Is there a statue of limitation to sue for real estate fraud? My parents purchased several homes together with family members and somehow they were taken off the deed without signing any documents.
2 Answers from Attorneys
There is indeed a statute of limitations for fraud. It is three years from the time the fraud is discovered, or with reasonable diligence could have been discovered. Code of Civil Procedure section 338(d).
However, in a matter of this sort, it is rather likely that some other causes of action should be considered and used in court in addition to, or instead of, an action for fraud. For example, a cause of action to "quiet title" under Code of Civil Procedure sections 760.010 to 760.060 is probably going to be desirable or necessary. A five-year limitations period applies to some quiet-title actions (CCP 319). Other legal actions might be considered, such as requesting a "partition" (court-supervised sale) of one or more of the homes.
This seems like a situation that should be investigated and then handled by an attorney with real estate experience, especially experience in the area of joint ownership and its related problems. If you wish, I could handle this matter for you at a very reasonable hourly rate, and do so without any additional expense due to my not being local (my office is in rural Marin County).
I agree with Mr. Whipple. Although fraud may have been involved in the details, it would appear that you are not looking to sue on a cause of action for fraud. A cause of action for fraud would involve a misrepresentation to induce someone to part with something of value and obtain something that they did not bargain for.
If there are issues involving title, especially where you are alleging that someone's name was removed from title through what must be forged documents, then you need to be concerned with the 5 year period for the other parties to claim adverse possession. I do suggest that you consult as soon as possible with a competent real estate attorney.