A per-page surcharge on all documents added to the public record, such as birth certificates, deeds of trust and marriage licenses, can be another source of local funding for affordable housing. This funding source is particularly successful in communities with a weaker residential and/or commercial market that cannot raise funds through real estate activity.

Case Studies

Document Recording Fees (Philadelphia)

In 2005, Philadelphia established an Affordable Housing Trust Fund with dedicated revenue from document recording fees. Fees for the recording of deeds and mortgages in the city provide the fund with annual revenue of $7 to $13.8 million. The fund receives $102 from each deed recorded by the city and a series of mortgage fees of nearly $90 per document.

For a recently established program, Philadelphia’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund has made a significant impact. The fund has been able to partially finance the development of over 1,300 new affordable homes, preserve nearly 9,000 homes and prevent over 5,500 people from experiencing homelessness (as of 2012). Since its inception, the trust has leveraged more than $337 million in non-city funds.