Friday, July 29, 2011

Delays in Property Transfers

Not too long ago the manager of Jamaica National Building called upon the government of Jamaica to reform the land transfer system. Judging from the comments left by The Gleaner readers, the view is that such reform is long overdue. There were many complaints of land transfers or land sales taking abnormally long periods - in one case 7 years.

Let me be quite clear. If the following conditions exist there is no reason for a property transfer to take more than  90-120 days.

  • The land is registered
  • The owner/vendor is alive
  • There are no competing equitable interests as would be revealed by caveats
  • The property being purchased is the whole of the land comprised in the title
  • There is compliance with the restrictive covenants
  • The purchaser has the full purchase price and costs or has secured funding for same
Usually delays arise where one or more of the following occur: the land is unregistered, the owner is deceased, there are person(s) other than the registered owner who have an interest/claim against the property, the property being sold is a part of the property in the title or otherwise conflicts with the deposited plan, there are breaches of restrictive covenants or the purchaser cannot secure funding to close in time. 

It is critical therefore that the parties secure good legal representation to make the necessary inquiries to ensure that the ideal conditions exist for the transfer to proceed smoothly or to effectively address the conditions that can cause delays. If the property owner is dead for example, his estate will have to be administered and that process could very well cause a sale to be delayed for up to one year or more. Similarly if the property is not registered an application for registration of land can cause long delays.

In the event that certain conditions exist that will impede the sale process it is important that the parties are informed so that expectations for completion are not unreasonable.