Charleston County Deeds Register Cuts Public Hours for Most of December | New

The struggling Charleston County Deeds Registry Office severely restricts public hours for most of December as the office deals with a backlog of property sales to register.

The long delays in registering real estate sales date back to 2019 and have sparked a lawsuit against elected registry of deeds Michael Miller. Delays in registering property changes can lead to problems with mortgage lenders and property tax bills, potentially creating situations where a property does not officially belong to a buyer until months after the sale is completed.

The office closed to the public several times, shutting off public access to free staff from counter work and accepting new documents, but most closures lasted a day or two at a time. Again this week, the office announced that it will be closed to the public on December 1 and 3.

Now, the Deeds Register office plans to close almost every day from Monday, December 6 through the rest of December, closing at 11:30 a.m. daily and no longer reopening in the afternoon.

The office will only be open for search and copy requests from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., according to a statement.

“I guess it’s helpful in some ways and detrimental in others,” said Magalie A. Creech, an attorney with the Finkel law firm in North Charleston, who sued Miller in November. “This is still problematic because it is a public service and if they are closed it will have an impact on the real estate business.”

Miller could not be reached for comment Thursday morning by phone or text. He also did not respond to requests for comment for earlier stories.

The boiling real estate market has overwhelmed the Charleston County Deed Registry

The Deeds Register office has been the subject of complaints about long delays since 2019 – Miller’s first full year leading the office after winning the election in 2018.

Miller cited a number of reasons for the backlog, from Hurricane Dorian in 2019 to the booming real estate market, a lack of technology that could allow filing documents electronically, and staff shortages in part due to the pandemic. As an elected official, he does not report to Charleston County Council, but depends on the county for the budget of his office.

Charleston County Bar Association warns property tax bills could go to wrong addresses

The Finkel law firm’s lawsuit seeks court oversight of the office, alleging that Miller has chronically and willfully breached his record-keeping duties. Creech said some documents have been waiting for more than six months to be registered.

In November, the Charleston County Bar Association warned that long delays in registering property changes could result in tax bills being sent to the wrong addresses. The county auditor and treasurer both said they did not expect any issues, however.

To reach David slade at 843-937-5552. Follow him on Twitter @DSladeNews.

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