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Hawaii Property Title Certificates Caught In 6-Year Backlog

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources
Screenshot from Bureau of Conveyances video.

Hawaii has amassed a backlog of property title certificates that stretches back six years, state officials said.

About 180,000 property title certificates are caught up in processing within the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

The backlog has progressed from a three-year delay in 2012 and a one-year backlog in 2006, officials said.

The backlog does not delay the sale or transfer of property, but slows Bureau of Conveyances workers and inconveniences customers hoping to receive timely certificates, officials said.

Minnesota-based West Central Indexing has received a $1.3 million contract to install a records management system with updated technology. The new system announced in August is expected to be ready in October 2020, officials said.

"With the (optical character recognition) capability, this system will provide faster and more accurate inputs as well as more work-flow flexibility to help prevent errors," Bureau of Conveyances Registrar Les Kobata said in a statement. "This will be particularly effective in providing accuracy and expediency in finalizing Land Court certificates of title."

The Bureau of Conveyances within the land and natural resources department is restructuring staff, digitizing documents and planning to upgrade its main database.

The department is also exploring ways to modernize Hawaii law governing real estate ownership as part of an effort to eliminate the title certificate delay, officials said.

Hawaii's Land Court system serves as a public-records database, but also involves bureau staff validating every document. After full verification that can involve time-consuming research, the bureau issues a certificate of title providing a state conclusion of ownership.

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