11th REPUBLICAN PARLIAMENT: 2nd SESSION

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The Registration of Titles to Land (Amendment) Bill, 2012

4 May 2012

Changes to Land Registration... to come soon...


The Registration of Titles to Land (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was introduced in the Senate on 6 March, 2012 by Senator the Honourable Emmanuel George, Minister of Public Utilities.
 
The full text of the Bill is available in PDF format on this website, you can download it via this link. You may also place your comments directly on this Bill page, which can be accessed here.

The following is a brief explanation of some aspects of the Bill 

PURPOSE OF THE BILL

The Registration of Titles to Land (Amendment) Bill, 2012 will seek to amend the Registration of Titles to Land Act No.16 of 2000.
The Bill is comprised of 21 clauses.

What is Land Registration? 

Land registration generally describes systems by which matters concerning ownership, possession or other rights in land can be recorded (usually with a government agency or department) to provide evidence of title, facilitate transactions and to prevent unlawful disposal. The information recorded and the protection provided will vary by jurisdiction. 

Land Registration in Trinidad & Tobago

In Trinidad & Tobago there are two systems of land registration: 
 
  1. Deed Registration 
  2. Title Registration
 
Both have co-existed since 1889 and are managed by the Land Registry in the Registrar General Office.

Registration of Land Title Documents         

This includes Deeds of Conveyance, Mortgages, Powers of Attorney, Agreements, Charges, Debentures, Deed Polls, Probate and Grants and Instruments under the Real Property Ordinance e.g. Transfers, Mortgages, Leases, Caveats, Death of Proprietors.


What does "title to land" mean?

Title refers to the legal ownership of particular part or property.  A deed or Certificate of Title is the only means whereby a person can demonstrate ownership, and register his/her ownership.
 
The title provides an up-to-date official record of the legal ownership of the property or piece of land in question.  Information on Title will generally include:
  • A description of the property. 
  • Name of the owner or owners. 
  • Mortgage lender (if any). 
  • Rights of way (not public rights of way) or other rights affecting the property. 
  • Restrictions or other conditions.

Why the need for land title legislation?

  • Land title documents serve as evidence of ownership of a piece of property
  • Registration also affords property owners some protection against squatters and;
  • It makes the transferring or mortgaging of land easier for the persons involved. 
  • According to a study by the Law Association in 2007 “Implementing the Land Titles Legislative Package”:
    • 47% of all households do not have adequate title documents
    • Approximately 30,000 households have no title Documents
    • There is widespread squatting on State and private land

Benefits of Land Registration 

  • Cheaper, quicker, easier and safer transfer of land 
  • Improved land tenure security as Government will guarantee title to all registered land.
  • Simplification of land transactions
  • Elimination of the need to search several deeds and other legal documents in order to establish ownership of title (therefore reducing cost).
  • Reduced squatting and land disputes
  • Land registration assists Government in:
    • Land use planning 
    • Environmental management & protection 
    • Equitable taxation 
    • Tax policy options physical planning 
    • Development control State land administration and management
 

What are the key features of this proposed legislation?


Some key features of this Bill include proposals for: 
  • The creation of a new post of  Senior Assistant Registrar (clause 5) who must be an Attorney –At-Law who performs functions of the Registrar General in his/her  absence and holds position of Commissioner of Affidavits
  • The creation of a condominium folio for every condominium unit 
  • A more defined procedure for the first registration of any parcel for which a folio is to be prepared and  signed by the Registrar showing the particulars of ownership and particulars of encumbrances  if any.
  • To replace words Certificate of Title with Land Certificate
  • To replace section 30 (1) with a new subsection to amend the reasons for rectification by The Registrar: 
    • in formal matters and in cases of errors or omissions not materially affecting the interests of the proprietor
    • in any case at any time with the consent of all persons interested
    • where upon resurvey an area shown in in the register is incorrect the Registrar is sanctioned to give notice to all persons appearing by the register who will be interested or affected by his intention to rectify
    • upon receipt of any decision of any Court or the Land Tribunal
  • To provide for a new subsection 30(3) allowing the Registrar  to record any change in the Register any name or address changes of any proprietor on the written application
  • To provide for new subsections; 73(2),(3),and (4):
    • (2)  to allow for persons seeking to deal with registered land with consent in writing from the proprietor who have applied for an official search stating particulars of the proposed dealing in his/her application called an instrument to have a suspension period of 14 days from the time the official search was made. 

 

    • (3) to grant the instrument priority over any other instrument presented for registration during the suspension period 
    • (4) to provide for any instrument or document for registration during the suspension period other than that affecting the proposed dealing to be deal with in the same manner and hold the same priority and be as effectual as if no stay of registration had been obtained.

 

Important Issues for consideration

  • The Bill allows the Real Property Ordinance to be repealed in respect of lands brought under the Act and is not applicable to adjudicated land or interests registered in Land Registry. 
  • Land Registration is limited by its slow and long process 
  • Few land owners undertake to transfer lands from the unregistered to registered system
  • There is still need for a comprehensive complete computerized database of land information 
  • Delays in the implementation of technological complements to the land registration system such as digitization of cadastral index and aerial photography to provide accurate topographic maps 
  • Amendments to land surveying legislation needed