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March 29, 2024 is the Deadline to Preserve Property Interests under Michigan Act

The Michigan Marketable Record Title Act (“MRTA”) sets March 29, 2024 as the deadline for property owners to take action to preserve certain restrictive covenants and use restrictions that originated more than 40 years ago.

The MRTA, enacted in 1945, was intended to simplify the process of determining a property owner’s marketable title. Establishing marketable title to real property requires an owner to demonstrate an unbroken chain of title where a continuous sequence of title transfers to a property can be traced to the current owner with nothing in the record chain of title purporting to divest or interfere with the current owner’s title to the property. The MRTA created a 40-year limit on the search window to establish marketable title. Instead of requiring the title search to go all the way back to the original property owner, if an unbroken chain of title can be established for the last 40 years, the existing owner is considered to have marketable title to the property, free and clear of interests more than 40 years old.

The MRTA was amended effective March 29, 2019. Prior to this amendment, it was sufficient if the deed mentioned that the property was “subject to easements and restrictions of record” to preserve previous easements and restrictions that were last recorded more than 40 years ago. Now, specific references to the public record (including liber, page, or instrument number) where the restrictions were originally recorded within the 40-year chain of title will be required if they are to be preserved. The amendment provided for a two-year grace period (until March 29, 2021) for property owners to record a notice preserving interests or use restrictions older than 40 years. Further amendments in 2022 extended this grace period until March 29, 2024 and provided exceptions for utilities and land and resource use restrictions. See MCL 565.104.

Property owners or community associations should carefully review their deeds, title reports and any other documentation containing easements or other property use restrictions and consider whether action is required to preserve their property interests. To preserve restrictions which were recorded more than 40 years ago, a Notice of Claim must be recorded with the appropriate County Register of Deeds no later than March 29, 2024.

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