Oct Fri 2020

Team Simplebooks

How to Check the Title of Your Land

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Buying land in Sri Lanka is a pretty big step. 

It’s usually a very lengthy and tiring process to find the right property, negotiate just the right price and obtain approval from the relevant authorities.

Table of content
  1. What is a Title Report?
  2. Is it compulsory to have a Title Report?
  3. How-to: Check the title of a land?
  4. What will the Title Report tell you about your land?
  5. What happens if you buy land without checking its Title?
  6. Check the Title to your land with Simplebooks!
  7. FAQs

When you go through all this effort, it’s pretty important to make sure that your land doesn’t come with any extra baggage to deal with later on. 

Sri Lankan lands are notorious for having complicated ownership histories. 

Since most lands in the country have been passed down from one generation to another, there’s usually some form of unknown ownership feud that pops up from time to time. 

The problem is that most new land owners don’t really know if there’s much history to worry about or not. 

This is usually where a ‘Title Report’  comes in handy.

What is a Title Report? 

Think of a title report as more of a history review of your land.

It will give you a detailed history about how many people have previously owned the property before you.

Is it compulsory to have a Title Report? 

No, it’s not. You aren’t legally required to get a title report generated about your land.

However, it’s always wiser to be informed about your property’s ownership history.  

As property lawyers, one of the most common problems we see new land owners deal with is misinformation. 

Or worse, the lack thereof.  

It’s always safer to know what you’re getting yourself into; and a title report will help you find all the information you didn’t know you needed. 

How-to: Check the Title of a land

Generating a title report is usually a very easy and straightforward process.

Step 01: Gather any and all documents you have on the land. These documents include:

  1. Current title deed of the land
  2. Previous deeds of the land 
  3. Current plan of the land
  4. Previous plan of the land 
  5. Approvals from the Divisional Secretary, Department of Agrarian Services and etc

Step 02: Include a copy of the deed AND plan of the land

Step 03: Hand in the documents + copies of the deeds and plan to your lawyers or notary public

After you hand in your documents, they will: 

  1. Check the registers at the Land Registry to find the ownership history of the land and obtain copies of the previous title deeds. 

If these documents aren’t readily available at the Land Registries, they’ll ask you to provide them if it’s in your possession.  

  1. Carefully study and analyse all the materials they’ve gathered.
  2. Once analysed, they will finally put together your title report with all the information you will need to know about the land. 

What will the Title Report tell you about your land?

The title report  will help you find all the key information you need to know about your land like:

1. If you unknowingly share (or may have to share) ownership of the land with anyone else

The title report will tell you if there’s anyone who’d have the rights to claim ownership of your land either through a deed or inheritance.

You will also get to know whether there are people who have been occupying your land for a long enough time period to make claims to your land too. 

2. Type of  road access your land has

Your land could have access to either a main road or a private road. 

Knowing which type of road access your land will have is very important.

In case it has access to a private road, you will need special permission to use that road. Your title report will generally provide this information to you. 

Knowing this first hand could save you from getting into any legal trouble in the future as well. 

3. Whether all the documents you need regarding the land are in order.

You can take a breather knowing your land has all the related documents required by the Government Authorities in order.

For example; you need street line, building line and non-vesting certificates from the Pradeshiya Sabha.

If you happen to build a condominium, you will need a certificate of conformity from the Condominium Management Authority, an Engineer’s Certificate and etc.

Since you will need most of these documents when you’re ready to buy your land, your title report could come in handy at keeping you informed. 

4. Whether or not your land has prior liabilities. 

By liabilities we mean exiting mortgages, lease agreements, caveats, life interests tied to the land or any ongoing court cases. 

When you buy your property, these liabilities could potentially pass on to you.

Staying informed, could save you from any unwarranted financial and legal problems.

5. You will be aware of any rules or laws that apply to the land.

As a landowner, you need to know if there are any special laws that apply to your land.

For example: If your land has a Crown Grant, you will need to obtain permission from the Divisional Secretary to purchase the land.

This will not only help you avoid run-ins with the law, it will also help you save time and money. 

Of course, this is not all. 

There’s so much more you can find on the land with a title report.  

Help us, help you!

Still, have more questions? Let us help you!

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What happens if you buy land without checking its Title?

Well, it’s certainly not the end of the world. 

But there are some risks. 

Let’s look at a few possible scenarios. 

Scenario 01: Legally, your land may not really be yours alone. 

Suppose you go ahead with the purchase of a 20 perch land from Thilan without checking its title. 

This land also has a parapet wall around it.

Later on, you find out that the adjoining land and your land were originally part of a larger 40 perch property. 

The original land was split in half by Thilan’s father and gifted to Thilan and his brother Kavin. However, Thilan’s father didn’t hand in any official paperwork for this split.

After you buy the land from Thilan, you decide to take a mortgage on your land but the bank refuses to grant you the loan.

Since Thilan’s father didn’t transfer the land to Thilan and his brother through a ‘Deed of Transfer’ or Gift; the records at the Land registry  shows it as one whole land.  

Scenario 02 : Other people may have inheritance claims on your land.  

You buy your land from Malki.

Months pass by and Viran comes along claiming that he owns a share of the land you bought.

He says that he inherited it from Malki’s grandfather.

You’re surprised and don’t know what to do.

Scenario 03: Before you bought the land, it may have been something else entirely.

Say you start building your dream house on the land you’ve recently bought. 

However, midway through construction, the Department of Agrarian Services arrives and prohibits you from doing any further work on the land. 

They say that your land was formerly a paddy field which had been filled up without permission from the department. 

Scenario 04: Your seller may not have been entirely honest with you.

You buy a land and start using the connecting access road. 

Your neighbour puts up a gate on the road stating that you don’t have the right to share the road with him. 

You decide to check the title and then discover that your neighbour is indeed right.

The seller of the land did not have permission to use the road but lied to you. 

Scenario 05: Your land may have unpaid loans or mortgages. 

A few days after you buy your land, a bank comes forward, claiming that the property is mortgaged to them.

They start filing an action to acquire the land for non-payment of the mortgage by the previous owner.

You get the idea. A load of trouble could be avoided by just checking the title of the land.

Check the Title to your land with Simplebooks! 

A title report could potentially save new landowners from a lot of legal trouble.

If you want to have the title to your land checked, we’d recommend you speak to a lawyer with at least 10 years of experience in practicing Civil Law or Land/Partition Cases.

In case your lawyer doesn’t have experience in this particular field, feel free to contact Simplebooks

We’re a team of lawyers that specialize in property law.

FAQs

 Is it absolutely necessary to get a Title Report before buying a land?

It’s not compulsory, but it is safer and highly recommended that you do.

Who can prepare a Title Report?

A notary public or lawyer, ideally one that has at least 10 years of experience in executing land deeds.

What are the documents I’ll need to check the title of my land?

You will need:

  • Current title deed of the land
  • Previous deeds of the land 
  • Current plan of the land
  • Previous plan of the land 
  • Approvals from the Divisional Secretary, Department of Agrarian Services and etc

Is it safe to only check the title report from the Land Registry?

No, any and all previous deeds and plans should be checked.

Accordion HeadingWhat is the time period for which the history of the land should be checked?

Ideally it should be for 30 years. But many commercial banks that obtain land as security for loans usually check the title for a minimum 15 years.

 How much does it cost to check a land’s Title?

The costs would include the land registry expenses incurred to;

  •  Cause a search at the land registry
  •  Get the extracts and copies of Deeds
  •  For the professional charges of the Attorney of Law or Notary preparing the report (this will depend on the complexity and the experience of the attorney or notary.

 How long will it take to prepare a Title Report?

It would take approximately five days if there are no complications and if all the relevant documents are available.

Is it absolutely necessary to get a Title Report before buying a land?

It’s not compulsory, but it is safer and highly recommended that you do.

Who can prepare a Title Report?

A notary public or lawyer, ideally one that has at least 10 years of experience in executing land deeds.

What are the documents I’ll need to check the title of my land?

You will need:
– Current title deed of the land
– Previous deeds of the land 
– Current plan of the land
– Previous plan of the land 
– Approvals from the Divisional Secretary, Department of Agrarian Services and etc

Is it safe to only check the title report from the Land Registry?

No, any and all previous deeds and plans should be checked.

What is the time period for which the history of the land should be checked?

Ideally it should be for 30 years. But many commercial banks that obtain land as security for loans usually check the title for a minimum 15 years.

 How much does it cost to check a land’s Title?

The costs would include the land registry expenses incurred to;
– Cause a search at the land registry
 – Get the extracts and copies of Deeds
 – For the professional charges of the Attorney of Law or Notary preparing the report (this will depend on the complexity and the experience of the attorney or notary.

How long will it take to prepare a Title Report?

It would take approximately five days if there are no complications and if all the relevant documents are available.

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