ABA Approves Two Uniform Acts Dealing With Real Estate

February 17, 2005

Two uniform acts, dealing filing real estate documents electronically, were approved yesterday by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates at its Midyear Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 9-15. With strong support from various ABA Sections, all three acts were overwhelmingly approved. Each uniform act was drafted and approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL).

One of the approved acts deals with the electronic recording of real estate instruments such as deeds and mortgages. The Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act will give county clerks and recorders the legal authority to prepare for electronic recording of real property instruments. The Uniform Act takes two large strides toward the goal of electronic real estate instruments, by equating the legal effect of electronic documents with written documents and by establishing a system of standards for recording officials to accept, store and communicate real estate instruments in electronic form. The intent is only to authorize such activities, not to mandate them.

Another act approved addresses the problems that frequently arise in the process of paying off a residential mortgage loan. The Uniform Residential Mortgage Satisfaction Act provides rules and procedures for extinguishing fully paid real estate mortgages from the real property records in every state. The act provides that if a mortgage lender has not recorded a satisfaction of the mortgage within 30 days, it is then liable for the mortgagor’s actual damages. If it fails to act by the end of the second 30 days, it is then also liable for a civil penalty along with court costs and attorneys’ fees. If the mortgage interest is not extinguished as demanded within the required time, the mortgagor may take steps to have the mortgage interest extinguished from the records.

Each of these acts was approved by NCCUSL in 2004 and is available for introduction and adoption by all the states. Information on each of these acts is available at NCCUSL’s website at http://www.nccusl.org/

Source: National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws

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