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As population grows and available land becomes scarcer, land development becomes increasingly challenging, with many lengthy processes and regulations to observe.However, the Titles Division of the National Land Agency (NLA) has implemented a system, called Simultaneous Lodgements, which will make the process easier.
“We have a new service that we have introduced which is geared towards developers, which they have been really pleased with,” Customer Service Manager at the NLA titles office, Lori-Ann Thompson tells JIS News. Developers may access this service at a cost of $15,000 per lot for up to 10 lots. It was these customers who requested this kind of facility from the titles office. “We are listening to our customers,” Mrs. Thompson says, adding that “the simultaneous lodgements was a project between the Jamaica Developers Association and the NLA, so we had a pilot project that went on for a few months [in 2004], where we actually offered the service at no cost to our customers to see if it would work, and to iron out all the kinks”.
“We do encourage the simultaneous lodgements for developments that comprise 10 or more lots. When you look at the significant savings to the developers, as most are financed by banks with high interest rate, and to developers who have taken out mortgages, then the cost is miniscule compared to the savings achieved,” she notes.
Outlining how cumbersome the system was before, the Customer Service Manager says that, “in the past, developers had to lodge their plan at the survey department and wait an average of 40 working days to get back the plan. After that, you would have to come to the titles office to deposit the plan and that was another 20 to 30 working days. [The developer] would have to apply for the splinter titles, lodge that again, for another two months”. This means that a customer would have to wait, on average, for a daunting 120 working days.
In a bid to simplify the process, Mrs. Thompson explains that there is now more synergy between both divisions and customers, who are now required to come straight to the titles office.
“We require them to bring the plan, the applications and the fee to the titles office and they are very happy, because they are getting back their titles from beginning to end in less than 40 working days,” Mrs. Thompson informs.
Meanwhile, Registrar of Lands at the NLA Titles Division, Sophia Williams, tells JIS News that although the process has been shortened, it is no less thorough and accurate than before.
“We have consolidated the process. When you take in the documents to the titles office, we ask you to make an appointment with the Customer Service Manager who will plan the application work flow. It still goes to the Surveys and Mapping Division, but we do everything at the same time, instead of waiting for each process to be finished,” Miss Williams says.
She tells JIS News that, “most of our additional services, we try to do it at no additional cost. This will decrease the likelihood of a customer going outside of the established framework. This in turn limits our exposure to fraud”.
Encouraging more users to access the convenient service, Miss Williams says “it is a very viable option and most developers know about it, because they do call and quite a few have been using it. There are also persons who are using it over and over again”.
She says although the incidence of repeat customers means that they are pleased, she would like to see new customers using the simultaneous lodgement service.Meanwhile, the Registrar of Lands acknowledges that there is room for improvement.
“In our quarterly business process reviews, we try to achieve at least one process that we improve per quarter. [Furthermore] we send surveys to our customers to find out if they are satisfied with the improvement and if we may do anything additional that we can do,” she tells JIS News.