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State won't step into Perfect Title deed disputes

The attorney general's office say bills before the Legislature already address the issue

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
January 29, 1997

By Rob Perez

The state doesn't plan to step into the controversy involving Perfect Title Co. but believes several pending legislative bills may help resolve it, a deputy attorney general says.

The company's findings disputing the validity of current land titles have started to cause problems in Hawaii's real estate system, even though many in the industry dismiss Perfect Title's work as absurd.

Because the company's reports have been recorded at the state Bureau of Conveyances, they've cast clouds on ownership deeds for individual parcels.

Randy Young of the Attorney General's Office said the bills before the Legislature would provide more protections against the filing of frivolous claims.

"I would imagine the legislative process would do the job," Young said.

If none of the industry-recommended bills pass, the attorney general will reconsider whether to do something about the controversy, he said.

Since Perfect Title started recording its findings at the bureau last spring, using 19th-century Hawaiian Kingdom law to question current titles, the Attorney General's Office has taken no action because the state considers the matter private.

The filings have started to affect property transfers and prompted a handful of homeowners to stop paying their mortgages, claiming their original titles are no good.

The industry hasn't determined the most effective way to counter the filings, and some officials still say the state has to be involved.

Attorney John Jubinsky, a key player in the fight against Perfect Title, said the proposed legislation will help but probably won't be enough to stop what he considers a scam.

"It's only one more thing to make it a little bit easier to go after them," Jubinsky said.

The best way to stop Perfect Title, he added, would be to impose criminal sanctions and perhaps even jail company officials.

Perfect Title officials say their critics are misdirected. Hawaii's title insurers are leading the opposition because they can't disprove Perfect Title's findings, which trace ownership to the days of King Kamehameha III, and face huge liability if titles are deemed invalid, the company says.

"Everybody is trying to paint Perfect Title as the bad guys, but it's not our fault if someone didn't do a full search of historical public records" to check land titles, said David Keanu Sai, a company official.

© 1997 Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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