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Massachusetts Agencies

Quarterly Questions and Answers

Articles from The Massachusetts Focus

Newsletter of Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Massachusetts Offices
Spring 2006, Volume 5, Number 2

Quarterly Questions and Answers
by Lynne Murphy Breen, Underwriting Counsel

The New Carbon Monoxide Law

Question: What is the new carbon monoxide law? What has to be done to comply? When is it going into effect?

Answer: On November 4, 2005, Governor Mitt Romney signed “Nicole’s Law,” requiring all residences with potential sources of carbon monoxide to be equipped with approved carbon monoxide detectors. Residences with enclosed parking areas and/or fossil-fuel burning equipment are considered to contain sources of carbon monoxide.

On February 2, 2006, the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations, along with the State Fire Marshall, passed emergency regulations for the implementation of the new law.

The regulations require every building used for residential purposes — including those owned and operated by the Commonwealth — which contain potential sources of carbon monoxide to install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home. Further, there must be a detector within ten feet of each bedroom and the habitable parts of attics and basements.

The types of detectors that are acceptable are hard-wired with battery backup, plug-ins with battery backup, low-voltage system and wireless and battery operated detectors with battery monitoring. Combination carbon monoxide alarms/smoke detectors are allowed if they have either tone or simulated voice alarms that distinguish between each type of emergency.

Beginning on March 31, 2006, local fire departments will be required to inspect all residences for carbon monoxide detectors upon the transfer or sale of the property. The current maximum fee schedule for joint inspection or separate inspection for carbon monoxide detectors is $50 for single family homes or condo units; $150 for 3 to 6 unit dwellings; and $500 for 6 or more unit buildings.

Question: Will motels, hotels, institutional buildings and other transient residential buildings be required to comply?

Answer: The Board of Fire Prevention Regulations is currently working on regulations for motels, hotels, institutional buildings and other transient residential buildings. These types of buildings will require hard-wired alarms, and inspection for these types of properties will not be required until January 1, 2007.

Question: What will be the requirements for large multiple dwelling units such as a large condominium complex?

Answer: Large multiple dwelling units which have no source of carbon monoxide within the individual units/apartments, may comply with the law under alternative compliance options set forth in the regulations. These alternative compliance regulations provide for monitoring in only those areas that present potential sources of carbon monoxide. The monitors would be required to be hard-wired or low voltage wired and have additional signal and monitoring transmission requirements. Buildings subject to the alternative compliance options of the regulations would have to comply by January 1, 2007.

Question: What monitoring requirements will a landlord have under the carbon monoxide law relative to their rental property(s)?

Answer: Landlords are required to inspect the carbon monoxide detectors, not only at the beginning of any rental period, but on an annual basis. In addition, they must maintain and replace the batteries in the detectors annually.

Visit our website home page, www.stewartma.com, for more information on the new carbon monoxide law.

The New Deed Indexing Standards

Question: What are the new deed indexing requirements?

Answer: The Massachusetts Registers and Assistant Registers of Deeds Association have issued a new version of the “Deed Indexing Standards for Massachusetts,” which is available at local registries, or online at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds website, www.lowelldeeds.com.

It should be noted that within the Indexing Publication’s Introduction, the Massachusetts Registers and Assistant Registers of Deeds Association acknowledges that:

Despite the best efforts of the registries . . . universal acceptance of and compliance with these Standards is a practical impossibility. Different computer systems and capabilities and hundreds of years of local precedent cannot be ignored or erased overnight. Recognizing this, and acknowledging that we have a responsibility to fully inform registry users of how local practices deviate from these Standards, each registry should develop and make available to the public a Local Supplement to the Deed Indexing Standards that clearly explains how that registry’s practices differ from these statewide Standards.

So while these revised Deed Indexing Standards are in effect, it remains to be seen just what individual registries may require you to do!

These new standards are covered in some 22 pages of text within the Publication and some of the noteworthy sections of the new standards, are:

Section 3: Addresses

3-3 Property Address on First Page of Document. The address (street number, street name, town and condominium unit number if applicable) of the property on a deed, a mortgage, or a discharge of mortgage shall be typed or printed clearly in a prominent location on the first page of the document.

3-4 Deeds – Grantee Mailing Address Required. The mailing address of the GRANTEE on a deed must be clearly stated on the document.

Section 7: Recording Procedures

7-8 Multifunctional Documents. A document that accomplishes more than one function shall be treated as a multiple document. A separate recording fee will be charged and index entry made for each separate function accomplished by the document. For example, a single assignment that assigns different mortgages executed by different people on different properties to one assignee is a multifunctional document and would be charged a separate recording fee and have separate index entries made for each mortgage assigned.

7-9 Multiple Documents – Attached as Exhibits. A document that is otherwise recordable on its own (or a photocopy of such a document) shall not be recorded as an attachment to another document but must be recorded separately. This rule does not apply to Affidavits filed in accordance with MGL chapter 183, section 5B.

7-11 Re-recording a Document. The former practice of “re-recording” an original document to correct an error or omission is prohibited.

Section 10: Document Formatting Standards

Documents recorded after January 1, 2007 must meet the following requirements:

10-3 Printing shall be on one side of page only; no double-sided pages will be accepted.

10-6 Blanks in an instrument and corrections to an instrument may be made in pen.

10-7 Signatures shall be in either black or dark blue ink. Names shall be typed, stamped or printed beneath all written signatures.

10-8 All documents must display on the first line of print on the first page a single title identifying the recordable event that the instrument represents.

In addition, this section of the deed indexing standards provides for specific requirements relating to paper, paper size and font.

DOR Loophole Bill

Question: Have the duration of child support liens been extended?

Answer: Yes, legislation was passed and went into effect on December 8, 2005, which extends child support liens. Child support liens under G.L.c. 119 A, sec. 6 (b)(5), were extended from six years to ten years ( ST. 2005, c. 163, sec. 45). This extension is retroactive to existing liens on the property. In addition, the lien periods may be extended further by the Department of Revenue. This now makes the child support lien period consistent with other state tax liens, except as to the commencement of the lien period where after-acquired property is involved.

With regard to this legislation, there are some loopholes in the bill that attorneys should note. For further discussion of this new legislation and some matters involving the child support lien that were not addressed and may cause some confusion, please refer to the article presented by Attorney Ward Graham in this issue.

Pending Omnibus Real Estate Mortgage Discharge Legislation

Question: Is there new legislation regarding mortgage discharges?

Answer: At the time of this issue’s publication, there is pending legislation regarding mortgage discharges which had passed the Senate and was sent back to the House with a small amendment. Hopefully, when you are reading this publication, the legislation will have passed. This legislation, “The Omnibus Real Estate Mortgage Discharge Legislation,” will dramatically improve the current system by which we get payoffs, obtain discharges, and clean up old discharge issues. It is truly comprehensive in that it provides not only for feasible methods of discharging a mortgage of record, but imposes real penalties for lenders who fail to record a proper discharge or provide a proper discharge to the closing attorney. It also provides for penalties for Attorneys who receive proper discharges and fail to record them in a timely manner.

Ward Graham of our office played a big role in drafting this legislation. When this legislation passes, Stewart Title Guaranty Company will provide a teleconference to educate our agents with the ins and outs of the new law. Also, REBA has designated break out sessions at their May meeting to further discuss this legislation.

If you would like to submit a question, send an email to me at lmbreen@stewart.com.