With Governor Baker having declared a State of Emergency in the Commonwealth, CATIC is sending this information regarding how your practice may be affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain or mitigate its impact.
We have become aware of the fact that the Suffolk County and Worcester Registry of Deeds will suspend closings/transactions inside the Registry effective Monday, March 16
, until further notice. It is our understanding that these Registries will continue to be operational for recordings delivered in person, via postal carrier, or via e-recordings. Suffolk County will continue to be open for research (i.e., title examiners). Essex South Registry of Deeds has scheduled a “deep cleaning” of the Registry on Saturday, March 14
as a precautionary measure in light of health concerns. Please see
from John O’Brien, Register of Deeds, relative to this matter. While we have not heard of any other Registry closings at this time, the pandemic, as you are aware, is an evolving situation. Since other Registries may also decide to close their offices, revise, and/or limit their access, Agents should continue to monitor each Registry’s protocols and procedures and confirm ahead of time that the Registry will be open by calling or checking online.
Contact information for each Registry is available on
Massachusetts Land records
or download the CATIC Municipal Guide app in the App Store or in Google Play.
CONTRACT PROVISION AUTHORIZING AN EXTENSION
Given the uncertainty caused by increasing reports of quarantines, closures, and other efforts to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it is also recommended that attorneys consider adding language to their real estate contracts that will address a situation where any party is under quarantine, prevented from travelling or meeting, or otherwise cannot perform.
CATIC recommends that Agents add language to real estate contracts that would allow for an automatic extension of closing in the event of a quarantine or some other delay caused by, or as a reaction to, the coronavirus. Below is sample language that is already being utilized in contracts in Massachusetts. This language is intended to be only a starting point for our agents, as it is the attorneys and the clients they represent who must decide what will best protect their interests in their transactions.
“The Time for Performance may be extended by either Party by written notice for an Excused Delay which materially affects the Party’s ability to close or obtain financing. As used herein an Excused Delay means a delay caused by an Act of God, declared state of emergency or public health emergency, pandemic (specifically including COVID-19), government mandated quarantine, war, acts of terrorism, and/or order of government or civil or military authorities. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Agreement, if the Time for Performance is extended, and if BUYER’S mortgage commitment or rate lock would expire prior to the expiration of said extension, then such extension shall continue, at BUYER’S option, only until the date of expiration of BUYER’S mortgage commitment or rate lock. BUYER may elect, at its sole option, to obtain an extension of its mortgage commitment or rate lock. Notwithstanding the foregoing, said Extension shall not exceed [insert number of days].”
CATIC will keep monitoring this evolving situation and provide updates as needed.