Sat | Apr 4, 2020

NLA to introduce Systematic Land Registration to increase land titling in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | April 14, 2019 | 4:55 PM
Senior director of the Adjudication Services Division (ASD) of the National Land Agency (NLA), Shalise Porteous.

The National Land Agency (NLA) is to introduce in Jamaica Systematic Land Registration (SLR), which is utilised by many countries around the world to increase land tenure regularisation.

Senior director of the National Land Agency’s (NLA) Adjudication Services Division (ASD), Shalise Porteous, tells JIS News that the process will enable the entity to achieve its mandate of issuing 20,000 certificates of title in three years.

“Systematic registration will revolutionise land title registration in Jamaica,” she said.

Porteous explains that systematic registration “is the… methodical and orderly registration of parcels of land in a designated area using the adjudication process”.

It will assist persons in obtaining the titles for property they have lived on undisturbed and undisputed for upwards of 12 years.

“The first [step] is the identification of an adjudication project area. At the NLA we have a wealth of information on unregistered land parcels in Jamaica, so we know the parishes with the lowest rates of registration are Portland and St. Elizabeth so we’ll definitely be targeting those two parishes,” Porteous explained.

Surveys will be done to determine if carrying out systematic registration in areas will be of value to the population. Once those checks are completed and confirmed, a recommendation will be made to the NLA’s portfolio minister to declare that section of the parish as an area for systematic registration, after which field work may begin.

“The field work for adjudication will entail work by our surveyors. At the NLA we have entered into a public-private partnership with Geoland Title Limited and they will be responsible for surveying all parcels of land within the adjudication area. So surveying will go hand-in-hand with adjudication and this is where the team from the ASD comes in,” Porteous explained further.

The ASD team of attorneys-at-law and paralegals, who will be stationed in the communities in the adjudication area, will visit each household by parcel. They will interview the property owners, neighbours and community representatives to investigate and determine if individuals have been in open, undisturbed and undisputed possession on the property.

“We will go into the communities and we will have town hall meetings with landowners, community and political representatives to further breakdown what adjudication is and the fact that we are there to assist persons to get a certificate of title and that we are not there to take away persons’ lands. We will help them understand the benefits to be derived from having a certificate of title,” she said. 

Following the surveys and interviews, the head of NLA's ASD will prepare a determination of interest document and publish an adjudication record, which will be posted on public buildings in the community for 30 days, and in a daily newspaper.

An adjudication record is a register of existing land rights with the names of the persons claiming an interest in the parcel of land. The adjudication record does not change existing rights but establishes those rights.

Objections to the adjudication record can be made to an established adjudication committee or in court to contest the ownership of the land. If there are no objections to the record, an adjudication certificate will be issued as conclusive proof of ownership. That certificate can be lodged at the Office Titles for a land title to be issued.

Systematic registration by adjudication will be accompanied by an island-wide public education campaign to raise awareness about the process and its benefits.

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