- Register of Deeds
Register of Deeds
THE BERRIEN COUNTY REGISTER OF DEEDS OFFICE
ADMINISTRATION BUILDING, 701 MAIN STREET, ST. JOSEPH, MI 49085
Limited Service Plan for Public Closure due to COVID-19
County Buildings Close to Walk-In Traffic
Effective April 5th, 2021, the County Administration Building is open to walk-in traffic*. More information about the County closure on the Available County Services page. Patrons are subject to screening and asked to wear a mask and observe social distancing while in the building. Direct questions for the Register of Deeds office to: (269) 983-7111 ext. 8562 or email the Register of Deeds Office.
The Register of Deeds Office is open to walk-in traffic*. Our office is fully staffed and will continue to process all documents received. The well-being of the community and staff members remains our top priority. Mask and social distancing requirements will be observed as per the State of Michigan Governor's orders.For documents that need to be recorded:
For in-person searching*:
For online searching:
For questions contact ROD staff:
*Subject to change
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Lora L. Freehling, Register of Deeds
Welcome to the Berrien County Register of Deeds website. The first Constitution of Michigan (1835) established the office of the Register of Deeds. The Register of Deeds is the elected representative of the people to review and record legal documents pertaining to the transfer or encumbrance of land and property within Berrien County – a land historian. The Register of Deeds also serves as Chair of the county Plat Board which reviews and gives final approval to all subdivision in the county and eventually, records the plat as well.
In Berrien County all document indexes and images (excluding mortgages, assignment of mortgages and discharge of mortgages) from 1831 (some recordings precede statehood in Berrien County) to present are available to search via the internet. Mortgages, assignment of mortgages, and discharge of mortgages are available to search, via the internet, from 1967 to present. Our staff is currently working on indexing mortgage documents dated 1950 to 1966. All land records dating back to 1831 are available by visiting the office.
Documents are received in the Register of Deeds office by mail, express delivery service, or by personal delivery. Documents are reviewed in accordance with Michigan statutes and, if they meet recording requirements, they are receipted. Upon receipt the document receives a label indicating the processed date and time as well as the Liber and Page reference where the document will be located in the computerized system. Documents are scanned (a digital image created), indexed, and made ready for public access. In Berrien County indexing of the document is completed as provided by state statute. Information is then rekeyed to assure indexing is as accurate as possible. The computerized indexes are available to the public at no expense. The original document is returned to the recording party and the scanned image becomes the official copy. Multiple backups of the imaged documents are created and stored at off-site secure locations should an emergent situation ever arise.
The Register of Deeds is charged by statute to maintain all land records permanently. The general public, lending institutions, abstract offices, realtors, attorneys, credit bureaus and surveyors make use of the land records daily. With internet access at Regofdeeds.berriencounty.org, many records are available 24/7. Our office is open during standard county operating hours for searching needs.
Other counties, states and countries have recognized the importance of having registered real estate parcels. Without a deed, title or lease an owner cannot use the land as collateral or improve the property. Beyond the economics of loans and mortgages, people with land titles enjoy a great sense of security and community. The purpose of recording is to protect people who have acted in good faith and have an interest in the land or property. Recording acts do not create a criminal penalty for not recording, but rather provides a strong incentive to record documents for public record. By recording you are giving the general public constructive notice of your ownership or interest rights. Michigan, along with many other states, is a “Race-Notice” state. This simply means it is not only in the recording of the document (constructive notice) but in the timeliness of recording (race) that may provide priority of ownership and interest rights.
Information regarding the recording of documents, fees, requesting land search assistance, and other topics may be accessed from the Berrien County website or by contacting our office by e-mailing the Register of Deeds office or phoning 269.983.7111 extension 8562. Our office staff is not authorized to provide legal advice nor authorized to prepare or complete documents for recordation.
~ Berrien County Register of Deeds