Alaska holds the following improper recording obligations

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On December 7, 2022, the Alaska Supreme Court (“the Court”) issued an opinion in the matter of Jae Chang and Jungmok RheeLEXIS 135 (Dec. 7, 2022, No. S-17827), held that an unsecured lien was enforceable under the “equitable mortgage” doctrine, but failed to provide adequate notice. it defeats a real customer for the price values ​​that are presented against its influence.

Between 2014 and 2016, Plaintiff Jae Chang (“Plaintiff”) made three personal loans to Hyeran and George Hunziker (“the Hunzikers”) totaling $115,000. Each of these loans was secured by a certificate indicating that the loan was approved by the house of the Hunzikers. According to the first loan, which was issued in February 2014, a “Claim of Lien” was recorded in the district records office using a document intended for recording the debt of the engineer. However, this form identified the Plaintiff as the “Lienholder,” the Hunzikers as the “Property Owner,” and contained the correct street address and information of the Hunzikers’ home. The document was signed by the parties and confirmed, but there is no time to indicate how long the debt will be enforced or when it will be terminated or satisfied. No additional documents were filed with respect to the two subsequent loans.

In April 2018, the Hunzikers sold their home to Tete’e Jungmok Rhee and Ukyung Lee (jointly “Tete’e”). An unnamed insurance company conducted a title search prior to the sale, but the resulting insurance policy does not mention the deed of February 2014. In November 2018 it was filed by the Plaintiffs filed the suit, alleging a breach of contract claim against the Hunzikers and a claim for injunctive relief. During discovery the Hunzikers admitted that they did not notify the defendant about the lien, explaining that they did not do so as they “thought since (they) (had) made the payment () there is no liability” and because the company name was “. told (them) that there (was) no liability on the property.”

The defendant asked for a summary of the decision of the claim to be suspended, saying that they did not notify the right at the time they bought the land, had no knowledge of its existence, and therefore became and loyal customers for the price. The plaintiff objected, arguing that the registration of the right was given “at least () research information” exists, thus defeating the customer’s claim. The court finally held that the defendants were bona fide customers and accepted their summary judgment.

The plaintiff appealed to the Court – which heard the appeal because in Alaska all appeals of high court cases go directly to the Supreme Court – which was finally approved, yes that the Defendants they are “honest buyers” because they had no knowledge of the right at the time they bought the land.

First, the Court discussed the issue of the wrongly recorded lien on the engineer’s promissory note – a case passed by the lower court – and held that the lien should be interpreted as a “Mortgage equity,” which was defined as any instrument that had “the intent but not the status of a mortgage,” and thus treated as properly recorded. The “firm question” therefore became whether the defendant had not received the required notice of the mortgagee and was therefore a true purchaser.

The Court addressed three aspects of notice—factual, practical, and investigative. There was no actual notice as the Hunzikers admitted that they did not give the defendant any notice of the right, not in contention that the defendant company did not disclose its existence, and the Plaintiff did not appear to oppose these claims.

The Court further found that the defendant did not have a reasonable explanation of the mandatory document because the document failed to include any time or a long time. Specifically, the Court explained that the “contents of the document” failed to provide effective notice because “moreover, testimonya similar mortgage, the existence, duration, and other terms must be determined () by referring to the specific evidence of the (Executive) and the intention of Hunzikers” – therefore, without including Although the specific information is necessary to understand the full scope of the right, it is not possible to obtain a useful information.

Finally, the Court found that the accused did not know any “facts that would lead a reasonable person” to investigate the possibility of a right, because they had no knowledge of the existence of the debt, and no separate document was made at the time. the sale of property was identified or referred to the obligation itself. Therefore, the Defendants were held to be true purchasers for value and the Plaintiff’s claims were dismissed.


This Opinion makes it clear that in jurisdictions that apply the doctrine of “equal mortgage” or a similar facsimile, even if not accurately recorded, an obligation may still be effective and enforced if there are all the conditions to understand its general scope, it is made by the parties by the instrument, and it seems that the original intention of the parties is being expanded.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject. Specific advice should be sought regarding your particular circumstances.

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