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Volume 6 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 103

Opinions of Counsel index

Real property (conveyances) (tax map designation and tax billing address on conveyance as condition precedent for recording) - Real Property Law, § 333(l-k):

Failure to satisfy the provisions of special legislation enacted for a number of counties to require tax map designations and tax billing addresses to appear on conveyances before such conveyances may be recorded does not invalidate either the conveyances or subsequent taxes levied.

Our opinion has been sought concerning subdivision 1-k of section 333 of the Real Property Law which provides that the tax billing address and the tax map designation be contained on all conveyances in Putnam County prior to acceptance for recording by the county clerk.

Subdivision 1-k is one of a series of recent like amendments to section 333. In 1970, tax billing addresses and tax map designations were required for all conveyances in Tompkins County. Subsequently, six special laws added a new and separate subdivision 1-j essentially covering the same subject matter for the counties of Rockland, St. Lawrence, Rensselaer, Ontario, Livingston and Schenectady. Subdivisions 1-b, 1-e, 1-g, and 1-h apply respectively to Broome County, Westchester County, Tompkins County and Monroe County.

The information required by the aforementioned measures greatly facilitates the task of maintaining tax maps and attendant records relating to assessment administration. Consequently counties with completed tax maps, or currently in the process of preparing tax maps, have individually sought such legislation.

The tax billing address requirement was added to lessen problems in the administration and collection of real property taxes. This item of information is requested primarily to provide a means of ascertaining the address to which the property owner wanted tax statements directed. The assessors in each city and town must ascertain “by diligent inquiry all real property located therein and the names of the owners thereof” (Real Property Tax Law, § 500). The collecting officer must mail a statement to these owners showing the amount of taxes due (Real Property Tax Law, § 922). Furthermore, a non-resident of a town or city may request that a statement of taxes be mailed to him (Real Property Tax Law, §§ 982, 984). Property owners may also have their tax bill sent to their mortgagee banks where an escrow arrangement exists with respect to mortgaged property (3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 120).

It should be noted that failure to obtain a proper mailing address in no way affects the validity of the taxes or interest on a parcel (Real Property Tax Law, § 922(3)). Similarly, failure to submit a correct address to the recording officer in Putnam County in attempting to comply with subdivision 1-k, will not affect the validity of the conveyance. The amendment clearly states:

the provisions of this subdivision shall not operate to invalidate any conveyance of such real property on which the tax billing address and/or such tax map designation shall not have been stated or which have been erroneously stated nor affect the record contrary to the provisions of this subdivision, nor impair any title founded on such a conveyance or record.

Since an accurate tax billing address is included for administrative convenience and is not a prerequisite for the proper conveyance of title, the recording officer does not have to assume the burden of ascertaining whether the billing address is correct at the time of presentation. Likewise, he is under no obligation to keep an address current if no further conveyances are made on a property.

The tax billing address used should be supplied by the property owner. No specific form of address is necessary provided it is considered a proper address for use in the U.S. Mail. Moreover, the address is not required to be placed in the body of the deed. The new subdivision alternatively states that both the tax billing address and the tax map designation may be “endorsed thereon.” Therefore the information may be included in the deed margins or in a separate paper attached to the deed.

October 11, 1978