Over the years, many clients after completing their estate planning, would receive what appeared to be an official government letter offering to provide a copy of their newly recorded deed for a fee ranging from about $50 to $90. This letter unfortunately was a scam by private companies seeking to provide a copy of a deed which is available from the register of deeds for as little as one dollar. Fortunately, our state government has recently taken action to prevent such activity.
The Solicitation of Deeds Act became effective on July 11, 2016 and it provides that any deed solicitation must state at the top of the page (in 24-point type) all of the following:
(1) That the solicitation is not from a public body.
(2) That no action is legally required by the person being solicited.
(3) The fee or cost of obtaining a copy of the deed from the public body.
(4) The information necessary to contact the public body that has custody of the deed.
(5) The name and physical address of the person soliciting the fee.
Furthermore, the solicitation cannot be made to appear to be from a public body or to appear to impose a legal duty on the person being solicited. The fee charged cannot be more than 4 times the statutory fee charged by the public body that has custody of the deed. Finally, the solicitor must provide a copy of the solicitation to the register of deeds in each county where the solicitations will be made not less than 15 days before distributing the solicitations.
Under the new law, the Michigan Attorney General is empowered to bring an action against anyone who violates the act. If you receive a solicitation which appears to violate the act, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Michigan Attorney General’s office.