Register O’Donnell Testifies Before Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Continuing his efforts to streamline the ever increasing amount of paperwork that must be stored by registries and reduce the financial burden on taxpayers, Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell recently testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of House Bill 1493, an act to modernize the Registries of Deeds.

Testifying before the committee, O'Donnell stated, "The storage of original registered land documents has become problematic. This legal requirement has resulted in significant space issues facing many registries of deeds. To give you the idea of the volume of paperwork held today, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds stores over 1.3 million registered land documents. Such documents include deeds, homesteads, mortgages, mortgage discharges and  Declaration of Trusts.

"Under the proposed legislation, the requirement to house original registered land transaction documents would be removed resulting in registries not having to look for additional building space. Once verified and recorded, these documents will continue to be scanned into the Registry's computer system for the public's viewing and on-line printing needs. The document will also be microfilmed for security purposes and stored in an off-site retrieval facility in the event of a catastrophe. These are standard practices that are utilized today by registries and will continue to be in operation. However, if this bill becomes law, registries will no longer be required to store the original registered land transaction document; they may forward it back to the homeowner or their designee."

"This scenario would be a win-win situation for many parties," noted Register O'Donnell. "The burden on taxpayers will be reduced because registries will not be making additional rental/leasing payments to store these documents. Existing space at registries will be better used to serve the public; more computer workstations for land document research, more space for customer service centers and more space for real estate closings."

House Bill 1493 has the unanimous endorsement of the Massachusetts Registers and Assistant Registers of Deeds Association which represents all 21 of the Registry of Deeds recording districts. In addition, the legislation has been co-sponsored by 51 state legislators across the Commonwealth. "We have some very strong support for the proposal and there also appears to be no visible opposition  to the bill. I also want to thank lead sponsor Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) for his leadership and support of this initiative," O'Donnell noted.

Concluding his remarks, O'Donnell stated, "I urge the Judiciary Committee to report this bill out favorably to the full House of Representatives for their consideration. This legislation will reduce significant space constraints being experienced by Registries of Deeds and at the same time, reduce future tax monies being spent on housing these registered land documents."

To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at or follow us on @NorfolkDeeds.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds will be closed on Thursday, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is closed Today, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.