PA 16-194—sSB 248

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO STATUTES AFFECTING TITLE TO REAL PROPERTY

SUMMARY: This act makes various changes concerning title to real property and related land records. Specifically, it:

1. adds to the list of people against whom an unrecorded disclaimer of certain real property is effective and eliminates a requirement to file the disclaimer within nine months for it to be valid against others ( 1);

2. validates land interest conveyances made to a trust itself rather than to a trustee ( 6); and

3. makes minor or clarifying changes concerning affidavits related to real estate, certain mortgage releases, mechanic's liens, and real property judgment liens arising from small claims cases ( 2-5).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016

1 — RECORDING OF DISCLAIMER OF REAL PROPERTY

By law, if someone disclaims (i. e. , refuses to accept) an interest in real property that passed under a nontestamentary instrument (i. e. , not a will), a copy of the disclaimer must be recorded in the town clerk's office in the town where the property is located.

Under prior law, if the disclaimer was not recorded within a specified nine-month period, it was ineffective against anyone other than the disclaimant and the person on whose behalf the disclaimer was made. The act eliminates the requirement that the disclaimer be recorded within the nine-month period to be effective, thus making it effective upon recording. It also expands the list of individuals against whom an unrecorded disclaimer is effective to include anyone having actual knowledge of the disclaimer.

2 — REAL ESTATE AFFIDAVITS

Existing law allows individuals with knowledge of facts potentially affecting an interest in, or title to, real property to record an affidavit stating these facts. If the individual who recorded the affidavit is unavailable to testify at a court proceeding relating to the property interest or title, the affidavit is admissible as prima facie evidence of the facts stated.

Existing law lists several matters that may be included in the affidavit, such as certain identifying information about the parties and the occurrence of an event that may terminate a property interest. The act specifies that the affidavits may contain any other facts affecting title to real property.

3 — VALIDATION OF MORTGAGE RELEASES BY ENTITIES

Under specified circumstances, existing law validates residential mortgage releases that would otherwise be invalid because the releases were executed by an entity and (1) the releases were not issued or executed by the record holder of the mortgage or (2) the entity failed to appear in the name of the record holder.

For the release to be valid, the person executing the release must record in the land records an affidavit with certain information, including a statement that the person has been the record owner of the property described in the mortgage for at least two years before the affidavit date. The act specifies that the person must be the record owner, or the owner's personal representative, on the affidavit date.

4 — MECHANIC'S LIENS

Existing law prohibits a mechanic's lien from continuing in force beyond a year after the lien was perfected, unless the party claiming the lien begins an action to foreclose it and records a notice of lis pendens on the town's land records by the later of (1) one year from when the lien was recorded or (2) 60 days from the final disposition of an appeal from a proceeding brought by the land owner to discharge or reduce the lien.

The act specifies that if there is no such appeal, the 60-day period begins to run after the final disposition of any proceeding brought by the land owner challenging the lien.

5 — JUDGMENT LIENS WITH RESPECT TO SMALL CLAIMS ACTIONS

The act resolves a statutory ambiguity by specifying that real property judgment liens for small claims actions expire 10 years after the judgment was rendered unless the party claiming the lien begins an action to foreclose it within that period and records a notice of lis pendens on the town's land records.

6 — CONVEYANCE OF LAND TO TRUSTS

The act provides that any conveyance of an interest in land to a trust, rather than to the trustee or trustees, is a valid and enforceable transfer of that interest. Under the act, if a conveyance by the trust is signed by a duly authorized trustee, it must be treated as if made by the trustee.

OLR Tracking: JO; RP; MS; CR: tjo