INTRODUCED in 2011, changes to the law enable those who have bought property and have deposited their sale contract at the Land Registry are able to request the Land Registry to issue its Title Deed.
Here is an extract from the Department of Lands and Surveys Citizens Charter, which gives an overview of the process of updating title:
Updating of Title Deed
Updating of title, means the registration of immovable property, resulting from replacement of existing registration or registrations with a new registration or registrations, due to the alteration of the immovable property (such as erecting or demolishing buildings or if a borehole has been drilled) and it includes the registration of jointly owned buildings and jointly owned building units.
According to the amendments of the law, in 2011, updating of title may be carried out upon an application of the registered owner(s), either compulsorily by the Director, who may act voluntarily or upon an application of the Competent Authority, or upon an application by a person having an interest in the property, including a mortgagor or purchaser who has deposited the sale contract, pursuant to the Sale of Immovable Property (Specific Performance) Law 81(I) of 2011.
Where the applicant is the registered owner, the application is filed by the registered owner or his attorney at any District Lands Office, regardless of the district where the immovable property is situated. Such application must include the reason for requesting an updating of the title (e.g. to be based on the plans made to scale, for registering or striking off a building from the land register, etc) and the following documents must be attached thereto:
- certificate of registration (title) of the property,
- building permit with all plans and terms attached thereto,
- certificate of approval of building,
- permit for partition,
- permit for the well and plan attached thereto, and
- demolition permit etc.
All prescribed fees must be paid upon filing of the application (refer to the Fees and Charges leaflet).
The consideration of the above application presupposes the carrying out of a local enquiry in the applicant’s presence and often in the presence of the President of the Community Council or Mukhtar or any representative thereof. The time for consideration of the application varies depending on the particularity of each case, the accumulated volume of work and available personnel.
Where the Director proceeds to a compulsory updating of title, then the registered owner or owners are called, within 60 days from the date of posting the notice, to either submit the required documents to the appropriate Lands Office for the required updating of the title, or to give sufficient reasons for not updating thereof.
If the owner complies with the Director’s notice, the updating process continues with the owner being the applicant. Where the owner, fails to comply with the Director’s notice, or the reasons for not updating is not deemed as sufficiently justified, then the Director proceeds with the compulsory updating and at the same time he may impose on the owner an administrative fine up to €10,000. During the examination of the compulsory updating, the Director may request the owner, or any person having an interest in the property or from any competent authority, to produce any documents, plans or other data deemed necessary for the examination of the case.
A significant amendment with respect to the issuing of an updated title is the possibility to issue title deeds with notes in relation to building irregularities, and titles with notes prohibiting voluntary transfers, but this does not in any way legitimise the irregularities or unauthorised works.
It is noted that, in the case of partition of jointly owned buildings, a separate title may be issued for remaining, non-utilised development rights (unlimited building coverage ratio).
In all cases of title updating, the new titles are issued in the name/names of the owner/owners of the initial registration, in accordance to the distribution accepted and agreed by all.
Before you get wildly ecstatic about a change in the law enabling purchasers to request Title Deeds to be issued, please note:
- Although a Title Deed may be issued, it could still be encumbered by a developer’s mortgage and/or other charges making the transfer of a property to its rightful owner impossible.
- Even though the Title may not be encumbered by a developer’s mortgage or other claims, the developer may not have paid Immovable Property Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax, which would again prevent the transfer of a property to its rightful owner.
- The ‘interested party’ (i.e. the purchaser) will have to produce any documents, plans or other data deemed necessary for the examination of the case. If the developer refuses to supply the information, what happens then?
I’m wondering just how many people will actually be able to take advantage of this change in the law?
Surely it would have been simpler just to instruct the Director to proceed with a compulsory updating of title in cases where a Certificate of Final Approval had been issued – or am I missing something?