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Registering Property in

Trinidad and Tobago

Below is a detailed summary of the steps, time and cost involved in registering property in Trinidad and Tobago. It assumes a standardized case of an entrepreneur who wants to purchase land and a building that is already registered and free of title dispute.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 190 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2016.

Compare Trinidad and Tobago to 189 other economies.

  • Measure of efficiency
    No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
    1

    Conduct title search at the Land Registry

    Agency: Land Registry Department

    There are two systems of law under which land is held in Trinidad and Tobago: the old or Common Law system of conveyancing, and the Torrens system of registered conveyancing (The Real Property Act system - RPA). Most of land in Trinidad (about 70%) is still held under the old law system. The two systems exist side by side and it is not uncommon to find one property consisting of lands held under both systems. The registration system used is dependent on where the property is located. The deeds registartion system, established under the Common Law system, was the initial property registration system and then RPA was introduced and the property in the city of Port of Spain is predominantly still held under it. This is the reason why the calculations of the time and cost in the DB Report reflect the Common Law system. Under RPA, all dealings with land or property in endorsed on a document called a Certificate of Title, so it is also referred to as the Title system, and the Common Law system is referred to as the Deeds system. Title searches are carried out under both systems as a routine part of the property registration system. The search under RPA is quicker and less expensive as the certificate of title provides all the information on the previous owners on it. In the case of the Deeds registration, one is required to do a search for a minimum of 20 years. The search is done manually and entails longer time and higher costs. A search clerk conducts the title search at the Land Registry by examining the Index of Deeds and Country Books relating to parcel of land. The Land Registry created an online database which is in the testing stage and, thus, only grants access to search clerks. The fee for conducting a single index or a single deed search is TDD 10.
    11 days (simultaneous with Procedures 2 and 3) • TDD 500-1,200 • search of a single document TDD 10,00 • copy of each page of document TDD 2,00 • certify each copy TDD 5,00


    The search can be conducted at: http://www.legalaffairs.gov.tt/Land/FAQs.pdf

    * 2

    Obtain the Certificate of Assessment from the District Revenue Office

    Agency: District Revenue Office / City Corporation / Borough Corporation

    The application for Certificate of Assessment is to facilitate acquisition of WASA lines on properties in Procedure 4. The certificate is needed to verify that the applicant owns the property.
    11 days (simultaneous with Procedures 1 and 3) TDD 10
    * 3

    Conduct companies search at the Companies' Registries

    Agency: Company Registry

    Searches should also be performed on the companies which are parties to the transaction. Lawyers will usually use two resources to conduct companies searches : (1) the online registry at https://rgd.legalaffairs.gov.tt/ and (2) the Companies’ Registry. Common practice is to consult a company’s online file and what is termed the physical file that is held at the Companies Registry. Downloading a company file from the online registry costs TT$20.00 while physical searches can cost anywhere around TT$500 - $1,000.00. A standard company’s search will usually take approximately one week. The company search is done by first downloading the Company's file from the Online Companies' Registry and, later, having a search clerk review the physical file at the Companies' Registry to ensure that the online file is accurate. Once the Company's file has been obtained, the attorney can confirm whether any charges exist which may affect the relevant property as well as, for the purposes of execution, the directors of the company can be identified.
    Less than a day (online procedure; simultaneous with procedures 1 and 2)

    TDD 20 per download
    4

    Obtain the Clearance Certificate from the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA)

    Agency: Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA)

    The vendor requests the clearance certificate from WASA (the application form is obtained online at http://www.wasa.gov.tt/Forms/Clearance%20Certificate%20Form.pdf). This is to confirm that there are no outstanding rates due in respect of the property. The required documents are:


    - up to date Certificate of Assessment from the District Revenue Office (not older than three (3) months)- obtained in procedure 3;

    - a sketch showing clear directions to property;

    -WASA bill (if any);

    -The clearance fee (revised April 1st 2009)

    Commercial properties cost $862.50 (VAT inclusive)

    (B3, B4, C1, C2, C3, C4)

    - valid identification (ID card/Driver’s permit/Passport);

    - application form from any Customer Service Centre or download the Clearance Certificate application form.


    At this point, the purchaser’s attorney would also request up-to-date receipts from the vendor, showing that all land and building taxes have been paid.
    7 business days TDD 862.5 (for commercial property) for WASA Clearance Certificate
    5

    Send the memorandum of the transfer to the Board of Inland Revenue for Stamp Duty assessment

    Agency: Inland Revenue

    The Memorandum of Transfer (PRO lands) or Deed (Common Law system) are sent to the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) along with the utility rates and land and building taxes and property valuation for assessment. The last payment collected for Lands and Buildings Taxes was for the year 2009, so the 2009 receipts are used for all transactions. The assessment of stamp duty is determined by the type of property. The amount due is written on the document and then paid to the Board of Inland Revenue in Procedure 7.
    4 days no additional charge
    6

    After closing the deal, swear affidavits of witnesses

    Agency: Commissioner of Affidavits

    One of the witnesses to the execution of the memorandum of transfer signs before the Commissioner of Affidavits.
    1 day TDD 5 per affidavit + TDD 2.50 exhibit fee
    7

    Present memorandum of transfer to be stamped at the Board of Inland Revenue

    Agency: Inland Revenue

    The amount of stamp duty is a percentage of the value of the property. Stamp duty rate may be found at : url: http://www.ird.gov.tt/load_page.asp?ID=46
    1 day "Stamp Duty paid according to the following scale for non-residential properties: Property value: Stamp Duty

    • Less than TTD 300,000: Stamp Duty is 2%

    • Between TTD 300,000 – 400,000: Stamp Duty is 5%

    • Greater than TTD 400,000: Stamp Duty is 7% "

    8

    Submit the Deed or the Memorandum of the Transfer for the registration and endorsement with the Land Registry

    Agency: Land Registry Department

    For the RPA property, the Memorandum of Transfer and the original duplicate certificate of title are submitted to the Land Registry and for property under the Common Law system, the Deed is submitted. The Memorandum or Deed is given a unique barcode number upon registration. With respect to the Memorandum, the volume and folio number where the transaction can be found are provided. The registration/endorsement of the Instrument (Memorandum or Deed) may take 2-3 months in the case of RPA and less time unser the Common Law System.
    28 days "Registration fee:

    • Memorandum of Transfer and Certificate of Title (RPA): TDD $50

    • Deed (Common Law): TDD $100 + TDD 2 per page (copy of title deed)"

    9

    Registry prepares the return of the ownership form, showing the change in ownership for the purpose of property taxes

    Agency: Land Registry Department

    Property under the old law system A certified copy of the Deed is obtained from The Registrar General's Department at TTD 2 per page and TTD 5 certify/binding. Time is usually 1-2 months. The certified copy of the Deed or Memorandum is then submitted to the Port of Spain City Corporation and the purchaser's representaive will fill out a form. Property under the RPA system A certified copy of the Memorandum is obtained from The Registrar General's Department as mentioned above and The Registrar General prepares the Return of Ownership Form which is free and process takes 2-4 months and this form is taken by the Purchaser's representative to the Port of Spain City Corporation and the return is then done.

    14 days TTD 2 per page and TTD 5 to certify Deed/Binding for Certified Deed

    * Takes place simultaneously with previous procedure.

  • Measure of quality
    Answer Score
    Quality of the land administration index (0-30) 12.0
    Reliability of infrastructure index (0-8) 4.0
    What is the institution in charge of immovable property registration? The Land Registry
    In what format are the majority of title or deed records kept in the largest business city—in a paper format or in a computerized format (scanned or fully digital)? Computer/Scanned 1.0
    Is there an electronic database for checking for encumbrances (liens, mortgages, restrictions and the like)? Yes 1.0
    In what format are the majority of maps of land plots kept in the largest business city—in a paper format or in a computerized format (scanned or fully digital)? Computer/Scanned 1.0
    Is there an electronic database for recording boundaries, checking plans and providing cadastral information (geographic information system)? Yes 1.0
    Is the information recorded by the immovable property registration agency and the cadastral or mapping agency kept in a single database, in different but linked databases or in separate databases? Separate databases 0.0
    Do the immovable property registration agency and cadastral or mapping agency use the same identification number for properties? No 0.0
    Transparency of information index (0–6) 2.5
    Who is able to obtain information on land ownership at the agency in charge of immovable property registration in the largest business city? Anyone who pays the official fee 1.0
    Is the list of documents that are required to complete any type of property transaction made publicly available–and if so, how? Yes, online 0.5
    Link for online access: https://www.ttconnect.gov.tt/gortt/portal/ttconnect/!ut/p/a1/jdDLDoIwEAXQr2...
    Is the applicable fee schedule for any property transaction at the agency in charge of immovable property registration in the largest business city made publicly available–and if so, how? Yes, online 0.5
    Link for online access: https://www.ttconnect.gov.tt/gortt/portal/ttconnect/CitizenDetail/?WCM_GLO...
    Does the agency in charge of immovable property registration commit to delivering a legally binding document that proves property ownership within a specific time frame–and if so, how does it communicate the service standard? No 0.0
    Link for online access:
    Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the agency in charge of immovable property registration? No 0.0
    Are there publicly available official statistics tracking the number of transactions at the immovable property registration agency? No 0.0
    Number of property transfers in the largest business city in 2015:
    Who is able to consult maps of land plots in the largest business city? Anyone who pays the official fee 0.5
    Is the applicable fee schedule for accessing maps of land plots made publicly available—and if so, how? No 0.0
    Link for online access:
    Does the cadastral or mapping agency commit to delivering an updated map within a specific time frame—and if so, how does it communicate the service standard? No 0.0
    Link for online access:
    Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the cadastral or mapping agency? No 0.0
    Geographic coverage index (0–8) 2.0
    Are all privately held land plots in the economy formally registered at the immovable property registry? No 0.0
    Are all privately held land plots in the largest business city formally registered at the immovable property registry? Yes 2.0
    Are all privately held land plots in the economy mapped? No 0.0
    Are all privately held land plots in the largest business city mapped? No 0.0
    Land dispute resolution index (0–8) 3.5
    Does the law require that all property sale transactions be registered at the immovable property registry to make them opposable to third parties? Yes 1.5
    Is the system of immovable property registration subject to a state or private guarantee? Yes 0.5
    Is there a specific compensation mechanism to cover for losses incurred by parties who engaged in good faith in a property transaction based on erroneous information certified by the immovable property registry? Yes 0.5
    Does the legal system require a control of legality of the documents necessary for a property transaction (e.g., checking the compliance of contracts with requirements of the law)? Yes 0.5
    If yes, who is responsible for checking the legality of the documents? Lawyer.
    Does the legal system require verification of the identity of the parties to a property transaction? Yes 0.5
    If yes, who is responsible for verifying the identity of the parties? Lawyer.
    Is there a national database to verify the accuracy of identity documents? No 0.0
    For a standard land dispute between two local businesses over tenure rights of a property worth 50 times gross national income (GNI) per capita and located in the largest business city, what court would be in charge of the case in the first instance? High Court of Justice
    How long does it take on average to obtain a decision from the first-instance court for such a case (without appeal)? More than 3 years 0.0
    Are there any statistics on the number of land disputes in the first instance? No 0.0
    Number of land disputes in the largest business city in 2015:
    Equal access to property rights index (-2–0) 0.0
    Do unmarried men and unmarried women have equal ownership rights to property? Yes 0.0
    Do married men and married women have equal ownership rights to property? Yes 0.0