After years of promises and millions of taxpayer dollars spent to run an office that has yet to open, Bermuda’s Ombudsman, Victoria Pearman said she was “pleased” to hear that the Land Title Registry is scheduled to open to the public next month.
This after Public Works Minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch told MPs on Friday, that the office, will finally be open to the public on July 2, 2018.
When contacted by Bermuda Real for her reaction, Ms Pearman said: “In the Ombudsman’s past three Annual Reports I highlighted my continued concerns over the slow progress of fully opening the Land Title Registry.
“In my Annual Report 2017 which will be tabled in the House of Assembly this month, I wrote I am encouraged by the Government’s renewed call to progress this long outstanding matter.
“In previous reports I have highlighted taxpayers have paid over one million dollars annually for years to fund this office, which was not open to them. It is long overdue they enjoy the benefit of registering their properties with a title- based registry which will significantly improve the law of property in Bermuda,” she added.
The new land ownership register will crack down on land grabbers who cheat vulnerable owners out of their property.
Colonel Burch said the opening will mark the end of a “sorry and deplorable” history of real estate agents and lawyers swindling clients.
“This system will provide for the guarantee of legal ownership of land and the simplification of conveyancing transactions,” he said.
The register will become “the definitive record of title” and any further transactions will be carried out quickly and at a low cost.
“Further, once a title is registered, title to that land is guaranteed, and cannot be lost or stolen.”
He also noted that many Bermudians were cheated by “unscrupulous professionals, and even at times by family members” over the years.
Land owners who opt to register their deeds will obtain absolute title.
Property owners will be able to secure the “the land that they worked so hard to obtain, their piece of the rock that they want their children and grandchildren to inherit and maintain after they are gone, their legacy, will for ever be safe”.
“It is unconscionable to this Government that landowners would have to pay lawyers’ fees for this service, so we will amend the Act to remove the requirement for a lawyer to examine the deeds,” said Colonel Burch.
Instead, staff at Government’s Land Title Registration Office will carry out searches and grant registered titles.
The change will complete the move from a deeds-based registration system that dated back to 1999.
You will recall that under-handed practices in Bermuda’s real estate market sparked a heated debate in the Lower House in 2014, when the Progressive Labour Party was in Opposition.
A Commission of Inquiry was approved by Parliament, but it was never authorised by the Governor.
- Full Ministerial Statement by Public Works Minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch
It is with considerable pride that I advise this Honorable House that the long-awaited implementation date of the Land Title Registration Act 2011 will be July 2, 2018.