JIS News

With just under half of the 800,000 parcels of land on Jamaica’s tax roll unregistered, islandwide, expansion of the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) is being considered.
LAMP, which falls under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), was established by the government in 2000, to assist individuals in securing titles for land for which they have no formal documentation. The programme is being executed in four parishes –
St. Elizabeth, Clarendon, St. Thomas, and St. Catherine. Manchester and St. Mary will soon be declared as LAMP areas, as well.
Project Director, Gloria Brown, tells JIS News that, initially, LAMP focused on four components: land registration; public land management; land information management; and land use, planning and development. However, LAMP only focuses now on land registration, because the other components were, to a great extent, completed and land registration was seen as the most important.
She points out that of the 800,000 parcels, approximately 350,000 are unregistered and another 100,000, even if registered, are not updated on the register.
Arguing for the project’s expansion, Ms. Brown cites the relatively high cost and protracted timeframe associated with the process of property registration, as the primary challenges that faced landholders prior to LAMP’s establishment, and which still obtain in parishes not under the programme. She notes that this, more often than not, discourages individuals pursuing acquisition of a title, particularly first registration.
She explains that, under LAMP, the average cost of a first registration title in St. Catherine is about $30,000, which is about one-tenth the cost outside of LAMP.
The Project Director indicates that issues pertaining to property boundaries, valuation and tenure, posed challenges for persons engaged in the title application process.
“Many attorneys will tell you that they will not do a first registration application, because it is too complex.and most times, attorneys only have limited success in getting a title completed, while LAMP is having a 89 per cent success rate,” she compares.
She adds that it is unbelievable that less than 60 per cent of properties have titles, even though the Registration of Titles Act was passed in 1889.
Ms. Brown points out that perusal of the Titles Office’s register shows that about 1,000 parcels of land per year were being added to the Registered Book of Titles, prior to LAMP. She says that a number of challenges, including cost and persons being unable to establish route of title, were recognised, resulting in the passage of the Registration of Titles, Cadastral Mapping and Tenure Clarification (Special Provisions) Act.
“Under this Act, we tied the cost of the registration process to the valuation roll. So all the cost related to the registration process, instead of (being indexed to) the improved value like what is done outside of LAMP, is now based on the tax roll value,” she informs.
Additionally, the Project Director says the issue of ownership was reviewed, including as it relates to the 12 years of undisturbed possession determining ownership.
“So a person, who is in possession of land for 12 years, undisturbed,.that is, nobody must challenge your ownership over the 12 years. could apply. Because of that and other factors, we have been able to achieve.89 per cent success in the applications that we submit (to the Titles Office),” she outlines.
“We (LAMP) have been seeing great successes (particularly) since the year started.we have got over 160 titles in one month (and) we are making progress. We are awaiting another nearly 500 titles that have been approved and for which we have paid final fees. So we think we will be able to maintain the momentum (we have set) of, maybe, 150 titles per month…this will be significant,” she states optimistically.
Ms. Brown cites LAMP as being integral to realising the goals of the Vision 2030 National Development Plan to transform Jamaica into the place of choice to live, work, do business and raise families.
“If we are to meet the 2030 agenda, you cannot have a country reaching first world status, even middle income status with nearly 50 per cent of your land stock outside the formal system.something has to be done. I really think LAMP is the answer,” she asserts.
Since its inception in 2000, LAMP has seen upwards of 3,000 parcels of land being registered and titles updated. The pilot, which ran until 2006 when LAMP was institutionalised and became an agency, incorporated all of St. Catherine, except Portmore, with registration and titling updates ongoing in those areas.
Ms. Brown informs that, under the pilot, some 30,000 parcels of land were surveyed in areas such as Old Harbour, Sligoville, Point Hill, Above Rocks and Bog Walk.
“So we have a very good cadastral map for a large portion of (the parish),” she states, pointing out that, despite completion of the pilot, the “varied” and “complex’ issues surfacing, resulted in a continuation of work there.
“To date, we have about 11,000 parcels that persons have come forward asking us to help to regularise, and we have regularised about 3,000, and we are at various stages of completing another 8,000, or so,” the Project Director outlines.
Pointing to some of the areas where LAMP assists individuals, Ms. Brown says that landholders may have persons who are dead, on their titles, in which case LAMP will probate the wills for them, administer estates, and get the properties transferred to the living beneficiaries. For persons who have breached covenants, LAMP will do the modification of covenants on their behalf. Some people want to add their beneficiaries to their title, as a part of estate planning, and LAMP can also assist.
In cases where persons buy a portion of a larger, registered property, LAMP will help with the sub-division applications, and to get a title for their portion of land in order to keep the record current.
“The aim of LAMP, really, is to (enable) each individual.to be able to walk into a lending institution with a current title and be able to access credit,” Ms. Brown states.