Recorder of deeds is a government office tasked with maintaining public records and documents, especially records relating to real estate ownership that provide persons other than the owner of a property with real rights over that property.
Offices with similar duties (varying by jurisdiction) include registrar general, register of deeds, registrar of deeds, registrar of titles. The office of such an official may be referred to as the deeds registry or deeds office. In the United States, the recorder of deeds is often an elected county office and is called the county recorder. In some U.S. states, the functions of a recorder of deeds are a responsibility of the county clerk (or the county's clerk of court), and the official may be called a clerk-recorder or recorder-clerk.
The recorder of deeds provides a single location in which records of real rights is recorded and may be researched by interested parties. The record of deeds often maintains documents regularly recorded by the recorder of deeds include deeds, mortgages, mechanic's liens, releases and plats, among others. To allow full access to deeds recorded throughout the office history, several indexes may be maintained, which include grantor-grantee indexes, tract indexes, and plat maps. Storage methods to record registry entries include paper, microform, and computer.
The principles of statutory, case, and common law are given effect by the recorder of deeds, insofar as it relates to vested ownership in land and other real rights. Because estate in land can be held in so many complex ways, a single deeds registry provides some stability, even though it cannot "guarantee" those real rights.
The legal certainty provided by a title deed issued under the registration of the recorder of deeds is of great significance to all parties who hold, or wish to acquire rights in real property. Certainty of title is the basis for the investment of massive amounts of money in real estate development for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural use each year. This is why the meticulous recording of registration information by the recorder of deeds is so important.
Each document recorded against title to real estate can be examined and the portion of the bundle of rights that it includes can be determined. These records can assist interested parties in researching the history of land and the chain of title for any property and purpose.
The South African system of deeds registry is hailed by many as one of the best systems of title registration in the world. The South African Registrar of Deeds is responsible for the national system of deeds offices which, through a juristic foundation and long-standing practices and procedures, has the effect of “guaranteeing” title.
The Deeds Registries Act and Sectional Titles Act are applied to regulate the deeds registry system, and form the foundation of land registration in South Africa.
In the U.S., most Recorders of Deeds are elected officials serving the area of a county or county equivalent territory.
In some states, the recorder of deeds may also act as a public posting place for documents that are not directly related to estates in land, such as corporate charters, military discharges, Uniform Commercial Code records, applications for marriage licenses, and judgments.
Deeds in a few states of the U.S. are maintained under the Torrens title system or some limited implementation of it. (For example: Iowa, Minnesota, some property in Massachusetts, Colorado, Hawaii, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington.) Other U.S. states, on the other hand, maintain their deeds under Common law, typically, in chronological order with a grantor/grantee index.