Conducting a Real Estate Title Search in Trinidad / Tobago
Becoming a home owner is an amazing milestone but if you don’t dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” you may encounter hurdles that make it impossible for you to enjoy the property you paid for. In real estate, not every property seller is authorized to transfer ownership, either in part or whole. In fact, when it comes to Trinidad and Tobago real estate, the possibility exists for a third party to hold a claim to all, or a portion, of the property. This could be as a result of a prior mortgage, non-financial claims, or a covenant limiting the use of the land. This is why one of your most important responsibilities as a home buyer is to conduct a Registered Land Title search through the Land Registry Office. Here is everything you need to know to carry out a Real Estate Title Search in Tobago.
1. What Type of Land Title Search do you Need to Conduct?
Before you can request a land title search you need to know what type of search is required for the respective property. With Tobago real estate, land title documents fall under two different laws: Common Law or Real Property Ordinance (RPO) Law.
i. Common Law
Most land in Tobago is held under common law, which is the older of the two systems. In order for ownership to be considered legitimate under this system, it must be proven by conducting a Deed of Conveyance Search dating back at least 20 years. It should be noted however that with this form of title search, only legal interests are discovered, which means unregistered interests cannot be detected.
Required Information: Deed number, address of the property and lot number
ii. Real Property Ordinance (RPO) Law
The RPO system was introduced to alleviate the problems faced under the common law system. With this process, presenting a Certificate of Title confirms proof of ownership. Additionally, any non-legal interests are indicated by caveats endorsed on the Certificate of Title, which alerts potential buyers to possible issues with the property. As such, there are less loopholes and it is much more transparent when it comes to identifying any and all claims or interest that may exist with the land.
Required Information: Volume and folio number of the Certificate of Title
2. Where Can You Get a Land Title Search Done?
Land title searches can be done through the Land Registry Office within the Ministry of Attorney General and Legal Affairs. The Tobago office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 3 pm, except on public holidays and it is located in Scarborough at the following address:
Registrar General Department
Phone: 639-3210 – not in service currently, we recommend you call the Trinidad office for any inquires at this time.
You also have the option of hiring a private Title Clerk who is certified to use the Registrar General’s system