Bulletin: PA2020003

Date:
April 03, 2020
To:
All Pennsylvania Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - UPDATE - Temporary Suspension of Personal Appearance Requirement During Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)

Dear Associates:

On March 26, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf approved a temporary and limited suspension of the rule (“Rule”) requiring the physical presence of notaries in certain real estate transactions, as normally required under 57 Pa.C.S. § 306, the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) for Pennsylvania.

The notice is available on the Pennsylvania Department of State website: https://www.dos.pa.gov/Documents/2020-03-25-Notaries-Inperson-limited-suspension.pdf

For personal real estate transactions, the Governor approved a temporary notarial rule suspension be granted only for real estate transactions that were already in process (e.g. agreement of sale completed for residential property and only mortgage closing needs to take place).

For all commercial real estate transactions, the Governor approved a temporary suspension for both transactions that were already in process, as well as new transactions during the emergency period.

Under the temporary suspension of the Rule, it is required that:

Notaries must execute all notarial acts, including acknowledgments, in accordance with all other requirement of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA).

The safeguards contemplated by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) and the recent Remote Online Notarization (RON) legislation - including multilayers of identity verification, use of tamper-evident technology and an audio-video recording of the notarial act - must still be required. A copy of the proposed RON legislation is provided here, (see §304):

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2019&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=1564&pn=3497

Some provisions of the proposed RON legislation require:

  • Notary must be located within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
  • Two (2) types of identity proofing (multilayers of identity verification);
  • Creation of an audio-visual recording of performance of notarial act (use of tamper-evident technology);
  • Retention of audio-visual recording for minimum of ten (10) years; and
  • Notarial certificate must indicate that the notarial act was performed by means of communication technology.

All notaries who are using audio-visual technology as an alternative to personal appearance under the temporary suspension of the Rule must:

  1. become an approved Pennsylvania electronic notary (free application) https://www.notaries.pa.gov/Pages/NotaryChangeApplication.aspx?AppType=3
  2. use an e-notary solution already approved by the Department that offer remote notarization technology; and
  3. indicate in the notary certificate that the notarial act was performed by means of communication technology. The following statement will satisfy that requirement - “This notarial act involved the use of communication technology.”

E-Notary Solutions approved by the Department:

Doc-Verify (for general use)
Safe-Docs (for general use)
Pavaso (for title companies and other real-estate transactions)

Additional underwriting requirements:

  • the policy amount may not exceed $1,000,000.00; for liabilities above this amount, please contact a Stewart Underwriter for guidance;
  • the temporary susupension of the Rule may be used for purchases, standard refinances, and cash-out refinances, only; for transactions other than those please contact a Stewart Underwriter for guidance; and
  • Issuing agent must verify with the appropriate Recorder of Deeds Office that the document will be accepted for recording.

Please note we have a dedicated site on VU for all things COVID-19 related available: https://www.vuwriter.com/en/coronavirus-resources.html

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
PA2020002 UNDERWRITING - Temporary Suspension of Personal Appearance Requirement During Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)
Related Bulletins:
SLS2020003 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
 
SLS2020004 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None