Aggie Reynolds, a 73-year-old resident of Flagaman in St. Elizabeth, is a happy and proud landowner today, having received a certificate of title for her property under the National Land Agency’s (NLA) Systematic Land Registration (SLR) titling programme.
She is among 35 residents who were recently presented with their titles during a ceremony at Newell High School in St. Elizabeth that was addressed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.
An emotional Ms. Reynolds tells JIS News that she was elated to finally own a piece of Jamaica.
She says the parcel of land she occupies has been in her family for generations; but she did not know the first step towards acquiring legal documentation for the property.
“I am… really elated… that I gained answers about things that were puzzling me; and I am so happy to receive my title and, as the Prime Minister said, ‘a part of Jamaica’. I can stand, declare and know that I am one of them,” she says.
Ms. Reynolds has high praises for the Systematic Land Registration Programme and encourages Jamaicans to capitalise on benefits under the initiative.
“I would encourage other people to go about this and not fear and wonder about money. You just have to take a step and… be [the] owner of your own inheritance,” she shares.
“I just want to ‘big up’ [the National Land Agency] for carrying out this task. It is one that is very important to all Jamaicans. I didn’t know [the process] would have been so fast. To the timing when they visited me, I [was] really surprised to see how fast it came through,” she adds.
Another beneficiary, Zenora Davis of Pedro Plains, says she is extremely delighted to finally receive a title for the land she has occupied over 30 years.
“It is a great and wonderful thing. I feel very proud because I have this land over 30 years and this is the first opportunity [I have had] to legally own it; so I am very thankful,” she states
Ms. Davis also has high praises for the land registration process and expresses gratitude to the Government for embarking on the revolutionary project that stands to benefit thousands of Jamaicans.
“The process was very easy, and the people were very nice when they come to my house. Everything was just wonderful, and I appreciate it a lot. The best thing that ever happened to me is to have [my] title which shows ownership of [my] own land,” she says.
Ms. Davis adds that “it is a good opportunity for me because I can use the title to get a money… and when [I] pass [this on to] my kids, [they] would know that they have a title to own what their mother had; so it is a good opportunity.”
Prime Minister Holness says the SLR programme seeks to scale up land registration to support the country’s aim of extending the benefits of recognised property rights to more Jamaicans.
“Your land title opens up a vista of opportunities for economic growth and development. Land gives you [an] immediate economic advantage to go to a bank [or any] other lending agency and say ‘I have an asset that the Government of Jamaica says I own, and nobody else can challenge it; it is, therefore, safe to do business with me’. That’s a powerful tool,” he states.
For her part, Senior Director for the NLA’s Adjudication Services Division (ASD), Shalise Porteous, says the SLR process is helping to increase the socio-economic stability of residents in St. Elizabeth.
With the parish’s low land registration rate, she notes that the process started in St. Elizabeth where 4,000 parcels of land in 15 adjudication areas were investigated.
Those areas included Flagaman, Potsdam, Berlin, 500 Lane and Ghetto Lane in Burnt Savannah, Queensbury, New Hope, Newton, Essex Valley and Brighton.
“We were able to prepare adjudication certificates, which resulted in the issuance of 2,572 certificates of titles for parcels of land. We are continuing our land titling efforts in other communities in St. Elizabeth, including Bellevue, Bull Savannah, Carlisle and Red Bank, Rose Hall, Seaview, Southfield, Kildare, [and the] remaining parts of Flagaman and Queensbury,” she says.
Ms. Porteous indicates that an additional 1,100 certificates of titles will be issued for parcels of land in those areas.
She assures that the process works and will be expanded to other parishes across the island with low land registration rates.
The Systematic Land Registration Programme seeks to assist persons to obtain titles for property they have lived on under open, undisturbed, and undisputed circumstances for upwards of 12 years, through the process of adjudication.
It is being facilitated under the Registration of Titles, Cadastral Mapping and Tenure Clarification (Special Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 2020, which was passed in Parliament in June 2020.
The objective is to increase security of tenure and provide for a more efficient and systematic land-titling system.
One of the major benefits of SLR is that the Government will advance the entire cost for the registration process.