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Your title deed


The deed that you get from your lawyer with the purchase of your land is a fairly technical document but it marks the title of your possession and it will attest to your ownership in any court of law provided that the relevant steps were taken to assure good title.{{more}}


Search for title.

The lawyer would have initiated a search in the Land Registry to make sure that there were no encumbrances (debts) registered against the title. A person with the skills is usually employed to carry out the searches. The Land Registry keeps all original deeds of conveyance and mortgages. Hence if the land is tied up by way of mortgage (that is, a loan taken against the security of the land) it will be discovered in the search.


The deed that your lawyer drafts

The deed must be presented to the Government’s Valuation Office. It must be accompanied by a declaration that gives the value of the land. The valuation officer will confer with the Chief Surveyor on the market price of the land. If the price of the land on the document is consistent with the current market price, then the document will receive the approval and will be stamped with the stamp of the office. It is then passed on to the land and house tax section in the Revenue Department to determine whether taxes are in arrears. After that hurdle is passed, the tax must be assessed. The tax on conveyance is 10 per cent of the value of the land, which is shared equally between the vendor and the purchaser. A registration fee is also payable to the government. Your lawyer will charge you a fee for the work done in preparing the deed which is normally a percentage of the value of the land.


The contents of the deed

You would want to understand the deed that is your title to the land you purchased. It starts with an introduction. The first item that is given is the date when the deed was signed. The names, occupations and addresses of the vendor (the seller) and the purchaser follow. It is the only time that their names are used inside the document and in fact it sets the pace for the rest of the document. Thereafter only the words vendor and purchaser are used.

The recital

The next paragraph is called the recital because it recites the immediate history that is relevant to the particular title deed. From this paragraph, one can learn about the title deed of the vendor and how he/she came into possession of the land. The number of the deed, which precedes it, must also be given. It makes mention of the land that is to be transferred/sold. If the land is carved out of a parent parcel, it will give some indication of that in this paragraph. Land is referred to as “hereditaments”. This is an ancient word that does not appear in modern dictionaries, but nonetheless remains in legal parlance. There could be several paragraphs of recital, so that the essential information is passed over into the new deed. Each paragraph begins with the words “whereas” or “And whereas”. In a deed of Assent, information about the former owner of the land and the grant of probate information will presented in this paragraph.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

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