The West Virginia legislature has introduced its version of the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act, which, if passed, would allow electronic documents to be recorded in county recorders’ offices across the state.
The bill, HB 4250, was introduced by Del. John Doyle, D-Wayne.
Under the proposed law, if a law requires that a document be an original, be on paper or another tangible medium or be in writing as a condition of being recorded, that requirement would be satisfied by an electronic document. If a law requires, as a condition for recording, that a document be signed, the requirement would be satisfied by an electronic signature.
A requirement that a document or a signature associated with a document be notarized, acknowledged, verified, witnessed or made under oath would be satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform that act, and all other information required to be included, is attached to or logically associated wit the document or signature. A physical or electronic image of a stamp, impression or seal would not need to accompany an electronic signature.
The bill would require county clerks who implement any of the functions addressed in the bill to do so in compliance with standards established by the Real Property Recording Standards Council.
The proposed law would allow recorders to:
- Receive, index, store, archive and transmit electronic documents;
- Provide for access to, and for search and retrieval of, documents and information by electronic means;
- convert paper documents accepted for recording into electronic form;
- convert information recorded before the clerk began to record electronic documents into electronic form;
- accept electronically any fee or tax relating to electronic recording of real property documents that the clerk is authorized to collect;
County clerks who accept electronic documents for recording would be required to continue to accept paper documents and place entries for both types of documents in the same index.
They would not be able to accept a document written in a language other than English unless it is accompanied by a certified translation into English. In such a case, the document to be recorded would have to consist of the English translation; a certification of the accuracy of the transaction, signed by the translator and acknowledged; and the original foreign language document.
In order to keep the standards and technology used by the county clerks uniform and in harmony with those of other jurisdictions, the bill would require the Commissioner of the Division of Highways to establish the Real Property Electronic Recording Standards Advisory Committee to assist in the adopting, amendment and repeal of standards and practices. The commissioner would be required to appoint at least 16 people to serve on the committee and serve as chair of the committee. He would be required to appoint:
- at least one person who is an attorney who specializes in title work;
- at least one person who is a specialist in geographic information system mapping;
- a representative of the Secretary of State;
- a representative of the County Clerks’ Association;
- a representative of the County Commissioners’ Association;
- a representative of the state auditor;
- a representative of the Governor’s office of Technology;
- a representative of the Division of Culture and History;
- a representative of the Community Bankers of West Virginia;
- a representative of the West Virginia Bankers Association;
- a representative of the West Virginia Housing Development Fund;
- A representative of the Real Estate Division of the Department of Administration;
- A representative of the Property Tax Division of the Department of Tax and Revenue;
- A representative of the West Virginia Board of Professional Surveyors;
- A representative of the West Virginia Real Estate Commission; and
- At least one representative of the mineral extraction industry.
In establishing, amending and repealing standards and practices for recording documents in electronic form, storing electronic records and setting up systems for searching for and retrieving these land records, the committee would consider:
- The standards and practices of other jurisdictions;
- The most recent standards promulgated by national standard setting bodies, such as the Property Records Industry Association;
- The views of interested persons and governmental officials and entities;
- The need of counties of varying sizes, population and resources; and
- Standards requiring adequate information security protection to ensure that electronic documents are accurate, authentic, adequately preserved and resistant to tampering.
The commissioner would be required to provide administrative support to the committee and propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of the bill. Each person, agency, board and organization on the committee would cover his or her own expenses necessitated by participation on the committee.
The commissioner would be required to submit a report to the legislative manager on or before Jan. 1 of each year until its tasks are complete. The report would include its efforts to adopt standards in accordance with the requirements of the bill and recommendations for further legislative action necessary to effectuate the purposes of the bill.