Conducting a Real Estate Title Search in Trinidad

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 Trinidad.

   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 houses in Trinidad, land title documents fall under two different laws: Common Law or Real Property Ordinance (RPO) Law.

1.)        Common Law

Most land in Trinidad is held under common law, which is the older of the two systems. (QUESTION: Does this apply to Trinidad as well? Not sure if it was only for Tobago). 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

2.)    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

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 Trinidad 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:

Government Campus Plaza

Richmond Street

Port of Spain

Phone: 223-2452

You also have the option of hiring a private Title Clerk who is certified to use the Registrar General’s system

How Much Does it Cost to Conduct a registered Land Title Search In Trinidad?

Fortunately, carrying out a land title search in Trinidad won’t put a strain on your budget. The cost differs depending on the type of searching being conducting, which is determined by the amount of information you have access to. Payments can be made in cash or via Linx and costs are as follows:

Specific Title Search

Price: TTD $5.00

Required Information: Deed number or the volume and folio numbers

General Title Search

Price: TTD $10.00

Required Information: Full name of the owner

If you choose to secure the services of a private Title Clerk you will also need to account for their fees, which means the rate will be different from those listed above.

When purchasing land or homes for sale in Trinidad it is imperative that you carry out a title search to protect your investment. Discuss the results with your closing agent to confirm the name of the legal owner and to ensure you are fully aware of any claims or covenants that may exist in relation to the house and/or land. Remember, this is your right AND you’re paying for it. Additionally, we strongly recommend that quality land title insurance is acquired for extra protection.

NB: This blog is not legal advice. You should consult a local legal adviser if you have any problems or concerns regarding your land title search.