Sat | Dec 4, 2021

Transferring property with destroyed documents

Published:Sunday | July 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM

This week I will deal with a question from a reader. I also ask the other readers to be patient with me; I will get to your questions in short order. Below is the question and subsequent response.

Dear Mr Francis:

I am an ardent reader of your column and I have an issue I would like you to help me with.

My husband bought a piece of land more than 20 years ago for which he got only a receipt and a diagram outlining the borders; nothing else. The land was not registered and the papers were destroyed by rats. He now wants to sell this piece of land and is asking me to carry out the transaction but I am hesitant because I like business to be done properly. I do not believe I should carry out the transaction without the assurance that the prospective buyer will receive proper documentation on the close of the transaction. What do I do?

I anxiously await your response.


CW (Mrs.)

Thank you for your kind words CW and I am glad to be able to inform you weekly.

Your question is a very good one, firstly yes you can go ahead with the sale as based on your question it's obvious the land was legally acquired by your husband despite the absence of a registered title.

One of the first things you will need to do is to engage the services of a commissioned land surveyor so that he can conduct a boundary survey to demarcate the property and to have a valid diagram that will be able to be used as one of the supporting documents for a title application if the purchaser is so inclined.

I am going to assume that your husband has been paying the taxes for the property these 20 years. After the approved diagram is returned to him by his land surveyor he should prepare documents to ensure that after the sale is completed that responsibility of paying the taxes now rests with the purchaser. This is done by filling out the requisite forms from the National Land Agency or tax office.

If the purchaser is going to make an application of title for the same property then your husband may need to prove that he had the right to sell the property and he may need to prove his ownership as you have said that the receipt has been destroyed by rats. He may need to have affidavits done to this end.

Lastly and importantly consult your attorney to help you with the sale or to advise you further if you are unsure or uncomfortable with the process.

I hope I have been able to assist you, all the best in your transaction.

The Gleaner in tandem with A Matter of Land will be hosting a property expo in August. We will have all the players involved in the process of property ownership, from conception to completion and beyond. They will include land surveyors, realtors, lawyers, and valuators.

If you are interested in being a part of the expo contact me at the email below.

Keep sending your questions and comments and let's continue to explore A Matter of Land, until next time traverse well.

- Craig Francis

Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at or his Facebook page Precision Surveying Services