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Banking & Finance Law Report

Ohio property data to remain free online

Posted in Real Estate

Put your wallet away and hit print as many times as you like. Because for now, there will be no new charge to download or print property records in Ohio.

As a welcomed early holiday gift, the proposal to charge fees for property records has died in committee. The office of Senate Judiciary Committee chair Senator Mark Wagoner announced last week that the Ohio Recorders’ Association proposal to authorize county offices to charge for downloading or printing public records from their government-funded websites will not be part of House Bill 247, which is pending before the Judiciary Committee.

The proposal would have permitted a county to charge up to $2 per page or up to a $500 annual subscription fee. The proposal faced opposition from a number of groups, including attorneys, realtors, title companies and newspapers, that search county recorders’ web sites for recorded information, such as deeds and mortgages, that is currently available on line for free.

The proposal was the Ohio Recorders’ Association’s response to a June 12, 2012 letter from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stating that the practice of some county recorders of creating subscription-only searchable Internet databases for accessing certain public records was not authorized under Ohio law. Attorney General DeWine cited to a 2000 Ohio Attorney General’s opinion (No. 2000-046) for the proposition that "a county recorder may not charge and collect a fee for providing Internet access to indexed public records." Attorney General DeWine further recommended that the Ohio Recorders Association request that the General Assembly "amend the relevant statutes to provide this authority."

The Ohio Recorders Association is expected to attempt to re-introduce this proposal next year.