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Is a Conveyance Fee Due on the Conveyance of an Easement in Ohio?
by Robert Franco | 2013/05/24 |

When a deed is recorded in Ohio, the Auditor's office normally charges a conveyance fee of $4.00 per thousand of the value of the property conveyed.  I was recently told that at least one Ohio County has been charging the conveyance fee at the time easements are recorded.  This has not been the normal practice, to the best of my knowledge, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is not proper.  So, is the conveyance of an easement subject to the conveyance fee?

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When you record a deed, the process requires taking it to the Tax Map Office to get the legal description approved, then to the Auditor's office to pay the conveyance fee.  Both offices must affix their stamp prior to recording the deed in the Recorder's office. 

If there is consideration paid for the conveyance, the deed must be accompanied by a "Real Property Conveyance Fee Statement of Value and Receipt," that specifies the Grantor, grantee, address of the property, tax billing address, a breakdown of the consideration which includes the "consideration for real property on which [the] fee is to be paid," and other information related to the use of the property.

The rate depends on which county the property is in.  The state set the rate at $1.00 per thousand of the purchase price, but counties can add as much as $3.00 per thousand.  In most counties, the conveyance fee is $4.00 per thousand.

Sometimes, the conveyance is exempt from the conveyance fee.  In which case, the deed must be accompanied by a "Statement of Reason for Exemption From Real Property Conveyance Fee."  O.R.C. § 319.54(G)(3) provides specific types of conveyances for which "no fee shall be charged when the transfer is made."  Common exemptions include conveyances to or from the government, gifts between husbands and wives or parents and children, on sale for delinquent taxes, pursuant to certain court orders, etc...

Typically, easements that contain legal descriptions would still be reviewed by the Tax Map Office and Auditor's Office, but they would routinely receive a stamp that simply stated "transfer not necessary."

Recently, I was told that Seneca County was charging a conveyance fee on the transfer of an easement.  The specific easement in question stated that "in consideration of $8,000" grantor grants to grantee an easement in land described below (or something similar). Thus, the Auditor required a conveyance form and the payment of the appropriate fee.

While this is certainly not the norm, it appears to be technically correct.  After all, an easement is a conveyance of an interest in real property.  And, the legislature clearly intended these conveyances to be subject to the conveyance fee - they included a specific exemption for a transfer "of an easement or right-of-way when the value of the interest conveyed does not exceed one thousand dollars."  O.R.C. § 319.54(G)(3)(p).

So, why don't most counties charge the conveyance fee on easements?  I have heard that at least one county tried, but gave up the practice when it was deemed impractical.  Generally, the value of these easements generates a very nominal conveyance fee.  For example, an easement acquired for $5,000 would generate a $20 fee.  And, because many easements are drafted to recite the consideration as "one dollar and other good and valuable consideration," placing a value on the easement can be difficult.  I would suspect that any county that attempted to require full compliance with the statute would soon find that it costs them more to implement than it would generate.

Though it appears that any time there is a conveyance of an interest in real property, whether by deed, easement, or even a lease, it should be accompanied by either a conveyance form or an exempt form.  [Although leases are exempt unless they are renewable forever.]  It takes time to process those forms and it might not be worth the effort.

Perhaps the Ohio legislature should consider revising these laws to better conform to the practicality of these types of conveyances and the practices followed by most counties.  They could increase the exemption amount to $10,000 for easements, or better yet simply provide that such conveyance shall be stamped "transfer not necessary," and remove the requirement for filing either the conveyance form or the exempt form.

In the mean time, don't be too surprised if an Auditor's Office requires a conveyance fee on the transfer of an easement. 


Categories: Abstractors, Ohio Legislation, Public Officials, Title Industry

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Source of Title Blog

Robert A. FrancoThe focus of this blog will be on sharing my thoughts and concerns related to the small title agents and abstractors. The industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years and I believe that we are just seeing the beginning. As the evolution continues, what will become of the many small independent title professionals who have long been the cornerstone of the industry?

Robert A. Franco



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