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Common discharge defects

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Massachusetts has a law in place that requires lenders to provide a discharge of mortgage (also known as “Lien Release”) within 45 days to the party who paid off the loan. In most situations this would happen to be the real estate attorney who handled the property sale, or refinance.

(See Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 183, Section 55.)

But, even getting a discharge of mortgage within the allotted time doesn’t mean your discharge will be correct. I highly recommend that you take the time to review the identifying information on the discharge to match up with the mortgage you expect to be released.

A quick 5 minute review can save you the trouble of having to return to the lender and request a confirmatory discharge in the future. I am not surprised to see that discharges commonly have the following errors:

  • Wrong Property Address
  • Wrong Book and Page or Document Number
  • Wrong lender issuing the release (usually due to a missing assignment on record)
  • Wrong County Listed for the property jurisdiction

Sample of Recorded Discharge of Mortgage

If all the information matches up and you have an incorrect Book, or Page, there’s nothing wrong in going ahead and correcting the numbers so long as the error is “harmless’.

Generally you are not permitted to make any alterations on any document; this is especially true with documents that need to be filed with Land Court. They review everything with a higher sense of scrutiny, and would prefer everything to be perfect.

Again, it’s your job to review the documents as they come in. The best strategy is to go right to the registry website and search the book/page, or document number. If it comes up as part of your search results, then you have a good and valid discharge.

If the property and mortgage you expect to locate did not come up, review your title exam to make sure you are matching up the property mortgage and discharge correctly.

Only upon confirming that the mortgage is properly listed on the discharge should you proceed to have the discharge of mortgage filed or recorded with the Registry of deeds.

Remember, not only are you saving yourself some time in the future, but should you require a confirmatory discharge, you will need to spend time getting in touch with the lender to provide it to you; and you may also have to cover the additional recording fees.

Recording a discharge in Massachusetts can vary from $75.00 (such as Suffolk and Middlesex County), $76 (such as Norfolk, and Barnstable County), to $77 (only Plymouth, except if it needs to be filed with land court division, then it is only $76 as well).

The costs can add up quickly, so the best advice is to review, and be certain what you are sending out is correct. Remember, you are on the hook to clear up title.

This article was written by: Francisco

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