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The Difference Between Recorded and Registered Land

undeveloped property or landscape

Photo by Julia Spina on Unsplash

Many times, we are often asked to explain the difference between Recorded and Registered Land, the two types of Real Property recordings in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Recorded Land makes up approximately 80% of real property recordings in the Commonwealth. It is based on a “buyer beware” concept and the registry accepts documents based on whether the document meets minimum recording requirements and not based on it relating to a certain property (i.e. this means it does not guarantee that the property in question is free from all liens, encumbrances, etc. when a document, such as a Deed is recorded). It is important and best practice to always run a title search and a run down on said properties prior to recording any documents.

Registered Land makes up approximately the other 20% of real property recordings and is sometimes referred to as the “Torrens” system. Registered Land recordings are distinguished by Document Number and a Certificate of Title Number (the certificate will describe the property and note any encumbrances or rights affecting the property). This system is more complex and is a division that is part of the Land Court. The Land Court has exclusive jurisdiction over this form of land and is a separate section of the Registry of Deeds. This land is typically land that at some point was subject of an ownership or boundary dispute and the Land Court has rendered a decision on the ownership or boundaries. Once this decision has been rendered, it means it cannot be disputed again. Additionally, the Commonwealth guarantees your title to this land. The Registry personnel will not accept documents for recording unless they meet the strict rules set forth by the Land Court. It is important and best practice as with recorded land to run a title search and run down before recording submitting any new documents for recording.