Print Issue Volume 100 - Issue 6

Note: Address Confidentiality and Real Property Records: Safeguarding Interests in Land While Protecting Battered Women

Over thirty states have instituted address confidentiality programs to protect victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse, stalking, and other crimes from perpetrators who try to track them through public records. The protections states offer vary widely. Minnesota has applied its address confidentiality program more broadly than any other state, extending the program’s protections to include all name and location information in real property records. Suppressing this information is a very effective way to shield victims from those who would abuse or stalk them. This interest, however, works against that of real property records systems used across the country. Suppressing documents, even if only portions of documents, detracts from an important goal of county records systems: to provide the public with notice of matters affecting property. This Note examines Minnesota’s approach and analyzes whether there is a legislative solution that will further the interests of real estate recording systems and victims of domestic violence, while offering an appropriate balance between the two.

This Note argues that current statutory attempts to extend address confidentiality to real estate records are inadequate, with excessive burdens on those involved with property recording systems and insufficient protections for victims of stalking and domestic violence. This Note proposes an approach based on Minnesota’s Safe at Home statute but suggests expanding the statute’s protections to include other property-related records and recommends increased access to protected records for authorized parties.

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