You have been living on the land you purchased or received from your family member for many years and have been faithfully paying your property taxes but you do not have a registered title. This is the position that many land owners in rural Jamaica find themselves and are wondering what steps can be taken to obtain a title.
Before registering a land title in Jamaica, you first would need to contact an Attorney-at-Law who is verse in land dealings and you will need the assistance of a Commissioned Land Surveyor. Below are 6 key points to note when applying for a Registered Title:
- An application form prescribed by the Registration of Titles Act must be signed by the applicant(s) and submitted with a Statutory Declaration to prove possession. A statutory declaration is a written statement confirmed by oath.
- Supporting statutory declarations to prove ownership from two persons who have known the land for at least 30 years must also be submitted and in cases where the applicant has no documentary proof of ownership, showing title for himself and predecessors in title for 40 years. There may be other documents required depending on the facts of each case.
- Submission of an up-to-date Certificate of Payment of Property Tax. Once all your property taxes are paid, you can request this certificate from any Tax Office island wide.
- Survey pre-checked diagram (if the land is being registered by plan). You will need to engage the services of a Commissioned Land Surveyor to have this completed.
- Applications otherwise than by Plan must describe the land so as to enable identification of the location of the parcel on the ground by reference to a land mark and must state the names by which the property is known. The description must state the distances along each boundary and the compass direction of each boundary line, the names of the abutting properties, the names of adjoining owners, and where the abutting land is registered land, the title reference for the property.
- Application will go through a series of processes as prescribed by law. The documents will be checked, the survey diagram will be sent to the Survey department to be checked to ensure that the land is not yet registered and the plan is acceptable and all the documents will be submitted to the Referee of Titles for consideration. When your application is approved by the Referee you will be sent a Notice, which you will be directed to have published in a daily newspaper for a period decided by the Referee of Titles.
Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)