​Protect Against Unknown Real Estate Filings Using the ACRIS Notice of Recorded Document System

Written By: Jay L. Hack

real estate pointing to contract

Our clients have recently experienced an uptick in problems with real estate documents that were either incorrectly or “secretly” recorded against property in the New York City Register’s office. Problems arising from such recordings were discovered years after the documents were recorded, when solving the problems had become difficult. Even when our clients had title insurance to protect against an error, a stitch in time would have been much less costly, and less aggravating, than nine stitches of cure. Thus, we are republishing a notice that we distributed six years ago about a procedure available through the New York City Register’s Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) to obtain alerts about real estate filings.

ACRIS is the system that allows property owners, title companies and others to record real estate documents in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx, but unfortunately not in Staten Island. Anyone with Internet access can view, download or print recorded documents. Anyone with Internet access can conduct a preliminary title investigation of most real property records, but excluding some filing such as mechanics liens, using ACRIS with just a few clicks of a mouse and minimal data input. Mortgage lenders, real estate owners and other interested parties can also use ACRIS to get automatic notice whenever anything is recorded against specific property.

Do you want to know promptly that your deed or mortgage has been recorded and properly indexed? Have you ever wondered how a lender can discover that you have transferred property in violation of a due on sale clause without getting a new title search? Did a mortgage borrower finance the down payment with a secret second mortgage recorded a few days after the closing? How about finding out that someone is trying to steal your property with a forged deed?

ACRIS allows you, at no cost, to get an e-mail alert as soon as a document is recorded against a specific property in the four boroughs. Simply register your interest in the property with ACRIS and provide an e-mail address to receive notifications. When a document is then recorded against the property with the New York City Register, you will receive an e-mail notice. When we tested the system, we received notice at 7:00 am that a deed was recorded the previous day.

To use the ACRIS Notice of Recorded Document System, you register your interest in a specific property on the Internet. You will need the block and lot designations of the property, which you can get from an existing recorded document, a title report or a title policy. Then go to the website at https://a836-acrissds.nyc.gov/NRD/, click the button next to “Property Borough/Block/Lot” and fill in the required information. Be sure to scroll down and complete the entire form. If the property you care about has multiple lot numbers, make sure that you register separately for all of them. You are now registered for the property and will receive alerts.

If you do not have the block and lot designation, go to the same web site and click the button next to “Property Address.” Fill in the street address, click on “Find BBL,” and finish the process as above. We recommend that you use the address-based method only if you do not already know the block and lot numbers because an address may have more than one lot number and using the address-based method may not disclose all applicable lot numbers.

Once you complete the registration process, you will get notice of documents recorded against the property in the New York City Register’s Office. Unfortunately, some important documents, such as most judgments, mechanic’s liens and building loan contracts, are filed in other New York City offices and thus you will not get notice of those because they are not recorded on ACRIS.

We recommend that all real estate owners and mortgage lenders register their owned or mortgaged properties on the system. Over the years, we’ve seen many problems that might have been avoided with prompt notice. Just last week, we discovered that over the past 18 months, a mortgage borrower had recorded a second mortgage, then a third mortgage, and then transferred the property in violation of a due on sale clause, all unknown defaults that would have alerted our client to impending financial difficulties a year in advance, which ultimately resulted in a payment default three months ago.

If you decide to proceed with registering property, we also recommend that you test the system on a document that is about to be recorded, such as a deed or a mortgage on a new loan, to make sure that your spam filters or other security devices do not restrict your ability to use the system.

If you have any questions about this system or need assistance with any other banking or real estate matters, call your attorney at our firm or send an email to Jay L. Hack, the head of our Banking and Finance team, at jlh@gdblaw.com.

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