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Senate Bill 257 Introduced In Ohio Would Facilitate Curing Title Defects

Senate Bill 257 was introduced in the Ohio General Assembly on December 30, 2015. The Bill, introduced by Senators Bill Seitz and Michael Skindell and co-sponsored by Senator John Eklund, would revise current Ohio Revised Code Section 5301.07. The current version of Section 5301.07 provides that certain defects in recorded real property instruments, such as a defective acknowledgement or improper witnessing, are cured and the instrument is deemed to be valid and enforceable after 21 years after the instrument was recorded. Prior to 21 years, a challenge can be made to the enforceability of the instrument based on such defects. Under the proposed revisions in Senate Bill 257, there is a rebuttable presumption that the defective instrument which is signed and acknowledged by a person owning an interest in real property conveys or otherwise affects the interest of such person and is valid, enforceable and effective as if legally made without any defects. Such instrument shall also provide constructive notice to all third parties of the instrument, notwithstanding any defect. The presumption can only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence of fraud, undue influence, duress, forgery, incompetency or incapacity. In addition, the time period after which such defects are cured is lessened from 21 years to 4. The changes proposed by the Bill also include an expansion of the type of defects which are covered by Section 5301.07. Under Senate Bill 257, the Section will apply to several specified defects, but is not limited to the defects listed, arguably expanding the application of the Code Section to any defect in a real property instrument. The Bill would also make the Code Section applicable to all “real property instruments,” which include deeds and leases. Therefore, if Senate Bill 257 is passed into law, litigation is likely to arise as to the section’s applicability to and effect on oil and gas leases.