A conveyance of land or of interest in land in Rhode Island is void unless it is made by a deed in writing, is duly signed by the grantor, and acknowledged in accordance with Rhode Island law. The real estate deed must then be delivered and recorded with the clerk in the town or city where the land is located ( 34-11-1). Delivery of the deed is sufficient to create a valid and binding contract between the parties to the instrument, even if it is not acknowledged or recorded.
Real property in this state can be acquired, held, and disposed of by any person who is able to enter into a legal contract and can in turn be conveyed to any grantee who has the legal capacity to receive real property or an interest in real property. The authority to convey property in Rhode Island is also extended to aliens. Specifically, aliens may take, hold, transmit, and convey real estate, and may also sue for and recover possession of real estate in the same way and with the same effect as if they were a citizen of the United States ( 34-2-1) . Real property can also be conveyed by husband and wife or any two or more persons to themselves as co-tenants under any tenancy that is legally allowable between them ( 34-11-3). The statutory forms provided in 34-11-12 are used to facilitate a conveyance of real property or interest in real property in this state. The most common of these forms are the warranty deed and quitclaim deed, both of which may be altered according to the circumstances of the transaction. The authorization of the forms by statute does not prohibit the use of other forms.
The grantor to a real estate deed in Rhode Island is required to sign the deed and have his signature acknowledged by a notary public, whose signature must also be present. Corresponding names should be typed or printed beneath the signatures of the notary public and other persons signing the real estate deed (34-11-1.1). An acknowledgment is not required to be in any set form, but it should be made by all parties executing the instrument. The certificate of acknowledgment accompanying the document should state that the parties were known to the officer taking acknowledgments and were known to be the parties executing the instrument. If an instrument is acknowledged in a state other than Rhode Island, the acknowledgement must be in accordance with the laws of the state in which the act took place. A city or town clerk in Rhode Island may reject a deed presented for recordation for a variety of reasons, such as not including the required addresses or not including a recitation of the sale price.
If a real estate conveyance in Rhode Island is delivered to the grantee, it will be valid and binding as between the parties and their heirs, and as against those taking by gift or devise, or those having notice of the instrument even though it has not been acknowledged or recorded ( 34-11-1). Delivery of a valid real estate deed from the grantor will be sufficient to convey to the grantee all the possession, title, estate, interest, claim, demand, or right of entry or action of the grantor, absolutely, in and to the land conveyed , unless the deed is otherwise limited. Only upon having the deed duly acknowledged and recorded in the town or city where the property is located will the deed be operative to give constructive notice as to third parties ( 34-11-4). Although Rhode Island is divided into counties, it does not have a form of county government. The municipalities in Rhode Island handle the functions of local government, which means that the recording of documents is handled by town and city clerks.