by Kim McNally, Esq.
County Recorder's across Ohio can breathe a sigh of relief now that formatting requirements for documents presented to County Recorder's Offices have been codified into state law. With the onset of scanning technology in Recorder's Offices throughout the state, County Officials were quickly discovering that some documents were not adequately scanning into their recording systems due to poor formatting, and use of various color ink and highlights on documents presented for recordation. The new compliance requirements will help resolve these issues. The new legislation allows for standardized formatting that will improve the overall legibility and quality of documents recorded. It will also ensure that Recorder's Offices will have adequate room in the margins of documents to complete recording information on the document itself.
House Bill 525 takes effect July 1, 2009 and codifies changes to recording requirements for documents presented for recording with County Recorder's Offices throughout Ohio. Although many of the changes to the recording requirements will not greatly change common legal practice in preparation of documents such as Deeds, Mortgages and Easements, it is wise for the legal practitioner to be mindful of the new statutory formatting requirements regardless of the type of document being prepared to ultimately be recorded with the County Recorder's Office.
After July 1, 2009, documents presented for recording to all County Recorders' Offices throughout Ohio will need to be prepared in accordance with the following requirements:
- Print size cannot be smaller than a computer font size of ten;
- Minimum paper size must be at least 8.5 x 11 inches and maximum paper size no greater than 8.5 x 14 inches;
- Only black or blue ink will be acceptable;
- Highlighting is prohibited;
- The first page of each document must have at least a three-inch top margin to accommodate any certification or endorsement of the County Engineer, Auditor or Recorder. Side margins and bottom margin must be at least one-inch; and
- Each of the remaining pages of the document must have at least a one and one-half inch margin across the top, with side and bottom margins of one-inch each.
Failure to Comply
Documents presented for recording that fail to meet the above criteria will not necessarily be rejected by the County Recorder's Office, however parties that present non-conforming documents will be assessed an additional recording fee of $20.00. Half of this fee will be credited to that County Recorder's Office and the remaining $10.00 will be applied to the Ohio Housing Trust Fund.
Not surprisingly, there are exceptions to the new recording restrictions. The documents recorded with the County Recorder that are exempt from compliance with the new rules include:
- Any document that originates with any court or taxing authority;
- Any Plat, which is a map of a tract or parcel of land, that is required or authorized by the Revised Code to be recorded; and
- Any document authorized to be recorded that originates from any state or federal agency.
Documents executed before the bill's effective date of July 1, 2009 will be exempt from compliance and not assessed the additional recording fee; however it is prudent to always check with the particular County Recorder's Office for any local rules or restrictions imposed prior to presenting a document for recordation. Ease in contact for the various County Recorder's Offices can be obtained by going to www.ohiorecorders.com as a helpful, one-stop resource for local requirements and customs.
About the Author
Kimberly D. McNally is the General Counsel of Guardian Title and Guaranty Agency, Inc. located in Cleveland, Ohio. She manages Guardian Title's Commercial Division and has closed commercial transactions throughout Ohio as well as on a national level and has extensive experience in dealing with every aspect of title examining and escrow. Kim received her B.A. degree from John Carroll University, obtained her J.D. from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and is licensed to practice law in the state of Ohio and is a licensed Title Agent. Kim can be reached at 216.898-4948 or at kmcnally@GuardianTitle.com.
Kim is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and Ohio State Bar Associations, the Cleveland Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), and the Ohio Land Title Association.