Ohio real estate recently got a lot easier with the passing of a new law.

Ohio’s real estate title cure statute just went through a dramatic transformation from the worst to the best in the country. For those familiar with it, the new law will make it easier to complete certain real estate transactions and resolve certain disputes concerning real estate. 

I received complaints from my clients for years about real estate problems they faced in Ohio that they did not face in other states. When I was President of the Ohio Land Title Association in 2010, I asked the Association's Legislative Committee to pull the title cure statutes throughout the country. I then personally reviewed and analyzed all of them. That began my seven-year endeavor to fix Ohio’s title cure law. 

What We Found

Ohio’s previous title cure statute had a 21-year cure period and very limited application.  The longest cure period for any other state was 10 years. So, Ohio’s cure period was more than twice as long as the next closest state. Many other states had updated their title cure statutes over time. Ohio had not.  It had not been changed since it was enacted in 1961. Certain states also included other helpful provisions in their statutes that were conducive to completing real estate transactions. Ohio’s statute included no such helpful provisions.

What We Did

The Ohio Land Title Association agreed to support efforts to pass a new title cure statute that I drafted, which incorporated the best attributes of title cure statutes throughout the country. I then took this initiative to the Ohio State Bar Association, which decided to take the lead on advocacy efforts to help the new title cure statute become law. The Ohio Association of Realtors also agreed to back the initiative. At the end of 2016, the bill finally passed in the Ohio General Assembly; Governor Kasich signed it on January 4, 2017; and on April 6, 2017, it became Ohio law.

What the New Law Does

Ohio’s new title cure statute does three main things. First, it presumes that if you sign a real estate instrument, you must have intended to grant or encumber your interest. Second, it reduces the cure period in Ohio from 21 years to 4 years, bringing Ohio in line with cure periods in other states. Third, it puts the world on notice of any documents that are properly recorded, even if there is some technical problem with those documents. Those technical problems made it so certain transactions could not be completed, or they may have been extremely difficult to complete. Considerable additional efforts were sometimes necessary to track down former owners and obtain additional documents to complete transactions. Now, for those who are familiar with this new law, it can be used to help get certain transactions completed that could not have been completed at all, or without considerable additional efforts. 

There is still a great deal of risk associated with real estate transactions, so it is important that this new law be used wisely and properly, but it presents tremendous opportunities to do things in real estate transactions and in real estate cases that were never before possible in Ohio.

Michael J. Sikora III is the Managing Partner of Sikora Law LLC (sikoralaw.com) and President of Omni Title LLC (omnititlellc.com). Sikora Law LLC handles legal matters for real estate companies throughout Ohio. Omni Title LLC completes commercial real estate transactions throughout Ohio. Both businesses have offices in Cleveland and Columbus. Mike can be reached at msikora@sikoralaw.com.