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Lawsuit accuses Charleston County Register of Deeds of ‘willful failure,’ ‘neglect’

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 10:46 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2021 at 4:22 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A suit filed in Charleston County has accused the Register of Deeds of “willful failure and/or neglect” regarding how long it takes for the office to record real estate documents.

The suit was filed last Wednesday by the Finkel Law Firm.

The suit accuses Michael Miller, the Charleston County Register of Deeds, of “willful failure...
The suit accuses Michael Miller, the Charleston County Register of Deeds, of “willful failure and/or neglect.”(Live 5/File)

“We’ve been made aware of that documents that are hand-delivered to the register’s office for recording will receive a date, book and page as opposed to those that are sent by U.S. Mail, FedEx, which are stored for weeks, sometimes months, before they are actually recorded,” Magalie Creech, a managing member of the firm, said.

The suit accuses Michael Miller, the Charleston County Register of Deeds, of “willful failure and/or neglect.”

Creech wants a judge to issue an order that urges the Register of Deeds to record real estate documents within one month of when they were received.

She added that if a claim is filed against a home before the deed is recorded, then the claim will be looked at first, meaning a person’s homeownership could be in jeopardy.

“Or if it’s to build a house or whatever the case may be, if you don’t have your ducks in a row, so to speak, to show that you own the property, and you need to request special permission to do something to that property, you’re not going to get it.”

Charleston County’s Register of Deeds office was closed to the public on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12.

And the county said in a statement last week the office will be closed on Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15.

Miller released the following statement Monday afternoon:

“We closed on Fridays (now Wednesday) to address our backlog concerns. We close the office to walk-up customers (to allow hours of uninterrupted recording time) …which has been very beneficial. We processed six days worth of documents on one Friday. So it has shown to be helpful.”

However, Creech this backlog affects residents and business owners.

“It’s as simple as if you need a certain permit to pull before you can get started on construction, if you don’t have title to that property, you’re not going to be able to get that.”

The attorney also said sometimes, the documents take so long to record, the checks they send to cover filing fees go void and need to be returned.

Once they refile those documents with a new check, the attorney said those papers are sent to the back of the line, further adding to the delay.

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