We looked at land registration in Ghana in the last edition. In that series we looked at what land registration meant and the types of registration we had in the country. We also looked at Land Deeds Registration and Land Title Registration; the two registration forms in the country.
You should also know the steps and ways in undertaking a problem free land deeds registration as well as what the key elements for initiating a registration process are. We took time to understand what the stamp duty or tax stamp was.
Today, we will cover the requirements in securing the tax stamp one and its role in the land title registration process. We will also look at the process one goes through in completing a land title registration or acquiring a land title registration certificate.
As already established; “One can only begin a Land Title Registration Process if he or she has a certified site plan and a well prepared and endorsed indenture, plus a Stamp Duty Payment otherwise known as the tax Stamp.”
Requirements for Stamp Duty or Tax Stamp
Before you present your documents for stamp duty be sure that they meet the following requirements;
- A transaction document (contract agreement) which has the title clearly stated and also the type of transaction agreement, thus states if it is a leasehold, sub-lease, freehold, an assignment, a gift, etc. It must also be dated thus show, day, month and year of the agreement as well as the parties involved, thus, their names, signature and addresses (residential and contact numbers etc). The names, signatures and addresses (residential and contact numbers ect) of the witnesses of the parties must also be there.
- Another important document is the site plan and indenture of the land. This must have the name of the owner who is selling the land. This name must be the same on both the indenture and the site plan. Although the two can be separate, an indenture is not complete without the site plan in it. The precise location of the land or property must be clearly provided in the indenture; else it is not valid.
- The indenture must also state the date the transaction commenced, how long the transaction will last (50 years, 70, years, 40 years, 99 years etc.) and any other arrangement as agreed between the parties.
- More so, just like the contract agreement, the indenture must also describe the precise location of the land and its size. This must be the same on the site plan. One can use landmarks to support the location description.
- As earlier said under land deeds registration, the indenture must be endorsed by a licensed legal practitioner with oath-of-proof done while the site plan must be signed and dated by a licensed surveyor and or the Director of Survey at the Survey Division of Lands Commission or his representatives; the Regional Surveyors. Parties must also sign the site plan.
- If one cannot sign, thumb printing is allowed with a duly executed jurat. There is a column to be completed and signed by the grantor’s (buyer) principal witness to the transfer of ownership.
Please note that every document presented to the lands commission for the stamp duty must be the original copy or the certified true copy of the original. However, if for any reason one can only present a duplicate or a photocopied version, an affidavit must be done to support the documents.
If all these requirements are followed, getting a duty stamp to commence the land registration process is certain. It is after this that one can then begin the land title registration process which is expected to be extended to most parts of the country, but currently being done in Accra, Tema and Kumasi.
As always, note that licensed surveyors and lawyers are in the best position to assist you with your land documentation. Some Real Estate firms from years of experience and wider network have some of these licensed surveyors and lawyers they work with. Hence, they can link you to these reliable lawyers and surveyors should you talk to them.
So, after securing your indenture, site plan and meeting the requirements of the Stamp duty, one is ready to begin the land title registration process.
With these documents and the tax stamp, one must go back to the Lands Commission, particularly the Land Title Registry and buy an application form for land registration.
After taking time to complete the form, one must return it to the Registry. The completed form must be accompanied by all necessary documents and registration fees which are stated in the form. Sometimes it is good to look through the forms at the Registry and make further enquiries before going to fill it out.
After the forms and accompanying documents are submitted, you will be issued with the receipt of acceptance. The receipt of acceptance which used to be called “yellow card” is now a white receipt. Do not be surprised if you still hear people call it a yellow card though; it is a white receipt. This receipt is to signify that your application has been received. The applicant is also given a letter of request which is to be sent to the Survey Department.
The purpose of this request form is to verify if the land to be registered truly exists and if the site plan and indenture provided by the applicant is genuine.
What the Survey Department does is to check if the details on the request letter conforms to the information and documentation they have. If your land has the right site plan and indenture, the Survey Department will surely have a copy because the site plan must be signed by a licensed surveyor and or the Director of Survey or his representatives (Regional Surveyors).
After the necessary checks, the Survey Department prepares what is called the Parcel or the Cadastral Plans. A Cadastral Plan in simple terms is an approved Site Plan (Thus when the Director of Survey or Regional Surveyor endorses the site plan already approved by the license surveyor).
Note that always ensure the site plan is well done, else you will be asked to do a new one should the Survey Department find problems with the one you presented to the Land Title Registry.
When the Cadastral Parcel is done, the applicant pays for it after which the Survey Department sends it to the Land Title Registry for the process to continue.
The site plan must be bar coded; thus it must have a barcode on it. This bar code is generated by the survey department as a source of information and a security measure to prevent duplication. A scan of the bar code reveals the full details of the land being registered. Without the barcode on the site plan the registration cannot begin. So make sure of this.
The Land Title Registry after receiving the Parcel issues a photocopy of it and adds a request form to be sent to the Lands Commission for a search report. This could usually take a month to about three months.
What the Lands Commission does is to do a thorough search of the property and the documentation to be sure if the land had not already been registered by another; either under deed registration or title registration. The Commission is also to verify the actual owner (s) and all other details to avoid litigations and confusion in the future.
The Commission after its work issues a Search Report and furnishes the Land Title Registry with it. If the Title Registry finds no red flags, objections or any problems in the report, they will publish the application in the media, particularly the dailies to alert the public. This is to inform the public and give room for people to make a case if they find any problem with the application.
After about fourteen days; should there be no objections and counter claims from the public, the Registry continues to finalize the registration process.
Certificate is Ready
After final checks and balances the Land registry prints and gets the Certificate signed by the Land Commissioner. The information and other details of the land is recorded on what is called a sectional plan (A plan that shows several sections owned by different people; more like an aggregation of site plan to create and master plan).
When all this is done, the applicant is notified of the competition of the title registration process. The applicant must return the “Yellow Card” before his or certificate will be issued. It is important never to lose the “Yellow Card” because it is what one will use to be following up on the process till it is done. Without it, it will be difficult to track your registration process and documents.
Like I have already said in the previous editions, the Land Title Registration is currently done in Accra, Tema and Kumasi (Adum Area). All other regions in Ghana currently go by the Land Deeds Registration system which is simpler and has some challenges if you do not do the necessary due diligence.
To avoid problems when doing a deed registration ensure you get a genuine site plan and indenture and if possible a transaction agreement as the documents you use for the Deeds registration to avoid problems. This is where I draw down the curtains. Stay Safe.
The writer is the CEO of CBC Properties Limited, a member of Ghana Association of Real Estate Brokers (GAR) and Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA); Email: [email protected] Cell: +233-20-422-5002