July 13, 2014
The Finney Law Firm has been retained by leading real estate attorneys and property owners in Hamilton County to defend our system of “Land Registration” that is being threatened by some of our elected officials. Read about that process and political battle here (in an unfortunately-slanted piece).
There are two ways in Ohio to hold title to real property — “regular” land title and the Torrens system of registered land.
Under the regular system, evidence of title is placed of record by means of recording of deeds, mortgages, easements, liens and such in the real property records. Under the Torrens land registration system, title is evidenced by the notations on a single “Registered Land Certificate.”
In Hamilton County, more than anywhere else in the State, we have registered land — and lots of it. About 20% of all parcels, about 52,000 in total, were voluntarily placed into the system by the owners bringing suit years ago to “register” their title. Thereafter, all changes to title have to be handled in a careful, methodical system that assures that claims against title and transfers of title are registered on the certificate. If someone wants to opt out of the system, there is a simple and inexpensive process that can be followed.
Until recently, the only way to de-register land en-masse and without regard to the preference of the owners of the land was to send a certified letter to each property owner, and then, following some significant legal formalities, have a vote of the County Commission to abolish the registration in that County. Recently, the Ohio legislature dispatched with the mailed notice required to property owners.
Now, under that new abbreviated system, Hamilton County Commissioners are considering a vote to abolish all registered land in the County. If two Commissioners vote to approve the change, the additional protections that the owners of 52,000 parcels of land in the County have paid for will disappear.
Our firm has been retained to (i) work to defeat such policy change, and (ii) if it is enacted, to bring suit on behalf of affected property owners to overturn such decision.
We are honored to have been selected to help “make a difference” for our clients in this important battle.