Buying a property? How to perfect your title
Your property, be it land or a finished structure, is an asset you want to preserve for as long as possible. Hence it is crucial that you get the titles certified by the government.
When you purchase a property, the seller would issue a receipt of purchase. Along with this, you would receive the available title document, which could be any of the following: Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), Deed of Assignment, Land Certificate, Deed of Sub-lease, Deed of Indenture, etc. Most importantly the seller should issue you a Deed of Assignment which would be jointly signed by both parties and confers the seller’s interest in the property to you.
While you may have taken possession of the property and obtained the title document, it is important to register or ‘perfect’ your title to the property with the government. This is also required in order to legally transfer ownership of the property to someone else.
The registration process can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, depending on your promptness in paying the respective fees and provided that there are no queries on your file.
How do you go about this?
Below is a summary of steps you should take from the moment you conduct a search to confirm the status of the property till you get your title registered.
- Conduct an extensive property title search at the land registry using the registration number on the title document to ensure that there are no pending issues or disputes on it (such as a mortgage or a pending litigation).
- Make payment for the property to the seller and collect your receipt of payment. Get a lawyer to draft and execute a Deed of Assignment in 4 copies between you and the seller. The Deed of Assignment is what indicates that the seller is transferring his interest in that property to you. It thus becomes your title document. You would also obtain a Land Form 1c which will be signed by both parties and submitted to the Registry.
- When you commence the process of registering (or perfecting) your title document, you would need the seller’s tax clearance certificate or the tax clearance certificate of two directors, if the seller is a company.
- As you start your application, obtain a certified true copy (CTC) of the Deed. and a certified true copy of the survey plan from the land registry. This is a certification that your title document and your survey plan are genuine. You would also attach a sworn affidavit of purpose to the application.
- Pay a charting fee (for your survey plan) and endorsement fee at a designated bank. These are required in making your application.
- Survey plans attached to the deed is charted by the Surveyor-General’s office
- The true value of the property will be determined and an assessment letter will be issued to you. This will indicate the amount to be paid as stamp duty, registration fees, consent fees, neighborhood improvement charge, etc.
- Pay the required fees – registration fees, consent fees, neighborhood improvement charge – at a commercial bank agency.
- Pay the stamp duty at the LIRS office.
- Submit the receipts of registration fees, consent fees, neighborhood improvement charge, and stamp duty at the Land Registry.
- The Deed of Assignment is stamped and entered in the Registry records.
- You collect your copies of the now registered Deed.
The relevant statutory fees are summarized below:
- Charting fee
- Endorsement fee
- Payment for Form 1C
- Consent Fee (1.5% of the value of the property)
- Registration fee (0.5% of the value of the property)
- Stamp duty (0.5% of the value of the property)
- Capital gains tax (0.5% of the value of the property)
- Neighbourhood improvement charge
Of course, you may not have the time to navigate all these steps. It would be helpful to engage the services of real estate consultancies such as James Cubitt Developments who can help manage the process seamlessly. Such consultants have access to other consultants such as architects, surveyors, lawyers, etc., who help not only with getting your property duly registered but also in managing development needs.