State governments are responsible for maintaining public documents such as criminal records, real property documents, voter registrations, and deeds. Unfortunately, those in charge of these important records are only human. Mistakes are inevitable. Many public records have mistakes such as name misspellings, wrong addresses, or incorrect information. Most public record discrepancies are harmless, but on property records, they can affect the sale and purchase of a home. Find out all the ways an error on your property record could affect you.
Wrong Property Information
Inaccurate descriptions of the property you’re purchasing can lead to major problems down the road. Even a simple clerical error, such as recording the wrong square footage of a home, can lead to trouble receiving the correct loan amount from lenders. Since banks typically lend 80 to 90% of a home’s total value, a hiccup with the square footage can end up being a major headache. The lender may refuse to give you the money you need to make a down payment on the property.
In other cases, a real property document may have missing information, such as failure to mention a pond on the property. Again, this can skew the value of the property and make for complications. Real property records should have accurate descriptions of the land itself and anything permanently a part of the land. This includes lakes, structures, and roads. Missing information can change the value of the property or create fights regarding a fixture on the land.
A plat is another public record where accuracy is key. Plats are maps that show an individual property’s boundaries, or where one property ends and another begins. A mistake on a plat can lead to major disputes between landowners about proper property lines and the size of a plot. It’s important to have a professional land surveyor come to the property in question and take new, accurate measurements. That way, you have the documentation to show that the information in a public record is incorrect. Any type of error in how a document describes a piece of property can affect potential homeowners.
How to Correct Public Record Errors
Once you discover a mistake in public records, it’s your duty to report the error. Leaving a document with incorrect information can affect you or others in the future. Even seemingly minor problems can drastically affect property sales and purchases. Here’s how to report and fix an error in public records:
- Visit your public records clerk. Perform a Google search to find out where your public records office is located. It may be at your local courthouse, county clerk’s office, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or the police department. You may or may not need an appointment to speak with the clerk.
- Bring all relevant information with you, including the public record in question. Online public records databases will let you print public records for a small fee. Bring at least two forms of identification, such as your driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, or utility bill. If you’ve found an error in a property listen, bring documents that show the true information, such as a record from a professional property evaluation.
- Explain the issue. Tell the clerk what the error is and give him or her the correct, verified information. The clerk will investigate the problem and give you the proper forms to fill out, if necessary. Once you’ve submitted the corrections, your work is done. It may take several weeks for the changes to show up on the public record. Continue to use an online public records database to make sure the document gets updated.
Many real-world applications depend on the accuracy and reliability of public records. Do your part by reporting inconsistencies when you discover them. It could help you or someone else in the future.