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JIS News

Fifty-years ago, the Kingston Race Course (now National Heroes Park) was “sold” to an unsuspecting gentleman from rural Jamaica.
This gentleman, excited to have bought the prime piece of property at a bargain price, left his rural community, donkey in tow, to claim ownership of his newly acquired asset.
There was only one problem though. The property was government-owned and as such, could not be sold by anyone but the government, which in this case, did not authorise the sale of this property.
What this incident should teach us, and in fact, what the National Land Agency (NLA) encourages, is that when buying land, proof of ownership should be obtained. It is advisable to also secure the services of an attorney-at-law to assist in the transaction, said Joan Walker, Legal Officer at the NLA.
After purchasing the property, an application should be made to the Registrar of Titles to have that portion of land registered and so secure a registered land title. This process, however, requires the provision of critical documents, Ms. Walker pointed out. “These documents include an application, which must be signed by the applicant, and an affidavit by the applicant, setting out the details of how he obtained the land,” she outlined.
According to the Legal Officer, information on how the land was obtained was important, as the government needed to know if the land was purchased and from whom, whether it was received as a gift from a relative, friend or third party, or whether the applicant was simply claiming possession, having occupied the land undisturbed for 12 years or more.
“Also, you are required to submit two declarations from persons who have known the land for at least 30 years,” she continued. “These persons should include in their declarations, the name/s of the person/s who were in possession of that particular parcel of land over the 30-year period,” she adds.
In addition, the applicant needs to provide the NLA with an up-to-date tax certificate indicating that taxes have been paid, up to the time that the application is lodged.
If the parcel of land is being registered by reference to a survey plan, then it will be necessary to submit a pre-checked survey plan along with the application. If the description of the property is not by survey plan, then the description of the land should be by measurement and boundary (estimated description). It should be noted however, that the distance must be stated in metric units (more or less) along each boundary line and the estimated area of the entire parcel should also be stated in metric.
Any other documents that can prove ownership such as receipts, conveyance or probate should also be produced.
“Probate is required if the property was obtained by virtue of a will. In such a case, you will need to submit the documents relating to that particular estate, for example, the probate document and the estate duty certificate,” Ms. Walker told JIS News.
Finally, the Commissioner of Stamp and Estate Duties should authorise the application before it is submitted to the NLA’s Land Titles Office. The office of the Commissioner of Stamp and Estate Duties is at 111 Harbour Street, downtown Kingston.
When all the documents have been collected, the applicant or his attorney-at-law should lodge the bundle of documents at the Land Titles Division of the NLA located at 93 Hanover Street, Kingston, and pay the necessary registration fees, which are calculated based on the value of the land.
The documents required for registering land, as outlined in the Registration of Titles Act are:
Application form prescribed by Registration of Titles Act, signed by applicant and witnessed.
Statutory declaration by the applicant to prove possession.
Supporting statutory declarations to prove ownership from two independent persons, who have known the land for at least 30 years.
Up-to-date certificate of payment of property taxes.
Pre-checked survey diagram or detailed description of the land, which should enable identification and location of parcel by reference to a landmark.
Any other documents proving ownership of land e.g. receipt, conveyance, probate or certificate of compliance.

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