Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"View Encumbrances" on website

A user of our website recently sent an email identifying what he thought to be a problem with the registered land portion of our website (  When you pull up a certificate of title on the website, two tabs are displayed.  One says "view certificate"; the other says "view encumbrances".  When the "view certificate" tab is selected, the image of the certificate of title text displays along with the scanned version of the Memorandum of Encumbrances that appears along with the certificate in the tangible certificate book at the registry (which is, after all, the official record for Land Court purposes).  The "view encumbrances" tab, however, failed to display some of the encumbrances that could be seen as part of the certificate image described above.  My correspondent assumed this was an error and politely asked me to look into it.  Here's the response I sent:

When we installed the system in 2002, existing Memoranda of Encumbrances presented a challenge.  Because they had essentially been custom created, there was no way to easily import them into the new database.  Encumbrances, therefore, were treated in two ways.  Those that existed as of July 1, 2002 were treated for electronic display purposes as part of the certificate and were scanned as TIFF images along with the existing certificate.  The two certificates you cite illustrate that.  New encumbrances (i.e., those created post-July 1, 2002) were entered into the new database in their entirety.  When you click the “View Enc” tab, only those encumbrances entered into our database will display.  The older encumbrances aren’t in the database so they would not display.  There is an exception for some older encumbrances that display partially on the “View Enc” tab.  There are some examples in the two you cite.  The partial information about these older encumbrances was entered into the database for other purposes.  It just happens to display along with the more recent encumbrances.

Our original intent was to leave the old encumbrances as part of the certificate image and have all the new encumbrances display on the “view enc” tab.  By viewing both, you would have a complete view of all encumbrances.  Somewhere along the way, however, we also began rescanning the certificates and old encumbrances to incorporate a paper printout of the new encumbrances, as well.  Consequently, the image displayed at the “view certificate” tab most closely duplicates what appears in the tangible certificate book which is after all the official record.

So to reiterate, the “View Enc” tab was never intended to display all encumbrances; just those created since the installation of the system (which again was July 1, 2002 here in Lowell).  That’s exactly how it has operated for nine years.

1 comment:

Michael R. said...

May we suggest then, for the occasional site visitor or those who haven't watched the site evolve over the last 20 years, to relabel that link "View Enc. 2002 to Date"?