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In the Western Area, the key institutions of land administration are the Land Registry in the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG), and the Surveys Department in the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment. The General Registration Act, Cap 255 of the Laws of Sierra Leone (as Amended), and the Registration of Instruments Act, Cap 256 of the Laws of Sierra Leone, (As Mended) provide the legislative framework for the registration of Deeds and all other documents required by law to be registered. Section 3 of Cap 255 created the (OARG), and makes provision for the appointment of a Deputy Administrator General and provides the legislative framework and authority for the registration of land related documents in Sierra Leone. The OARG is a department of the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
The General Registry in the OARG is the depository of “all registers, instruments, and records and copies thereof” as are directed by any act to be delivered to, and deposited with the Registrar General (Section 5) Section 19 of CAP 256 .stipulates that where under any act a land is required to be registered, such registration should be done in the Administrator and Registrar’s Office, and that the Registrar General shall keep such registers as is prescribed under the Act.
It registers transaction relating to land such as deeds of conveyances, statutory declarations, deeds of gift, leases, mortgages and discharge of mortgages, court judgments and other documents, and keeps and provides information on interests in land to the public.
The following indices are maintained by the Registry: Book of Conveyances, Book of Mortgages, Book of Leases, and a miscellaneous index. The office provides information on documents registered, and the indices are open to the public to search. Searches are conducted manually which is very time consuming.
Registration of a document provides notice to the world of its existence. There is an onus on anyone who wishes to purchase, lend money or otherwise deal with land to search the Deeds Register to inspect any such documents affecting the property. A Conveyancer is required to carry out an investigatory process of abstract of title, perusal, requisition, reply etc, and also make on the spot inspection and inquires for those interests which are relatively so uncertainable that they often do not appear on the documentary title. (e.g. rights of persons in actual occupation).
The Registrar-General has a duty to ensure that the document is properly drawn, signed and witnessed, and authorised by a legal practitioner. The Registrar-General does not investigate the title and therefore does not guarantee the legal validity of the document, but merely ensure that its existence can be established by an enquirer.
The deed document is a simple record of key facts relating to the property, and remains the authoritative record of the legal facts and rights. Failure to register can result in the loss of right to land or interest in land by the unregistered owner or beneficiary, as the legal estate does not pass unless this can later be remedied by a court order for late registration, and provided there is no purchaser for value without notice.
Proof of ownership of land depends on deeds kept in the Office of the Administrator and Registrar-General. The Office is responsible for maintaining indices of such deeds filed and registered in such a way that they can be accessed and viewed by anyone.
The sierras Leone Government is in the process of adopting a new land policy that will make for the introduction of a land title registration system where in it is envisaged that the western area will be a pilot project.
The system of land title registration will adequately secure land rights, and will permit those rights to be traded efficiently, simply, quickly, and at low cost. It is envisaged that it will be introduced on a gradual basis, starting with the Western Area. It makes for accurate and up to date maintenance of land records, that supports the safe and secure transfer of title, thus ensuring the security of credit against property assets.
The success of a land title system will however depend on the establishment of the required legal and institutional framework to support it such as a good cadastral system which unequivocally define the property units, their ownership, and record any financial or other encumbrances placed on them. And the introduction of a computerized single unified digital mapping base for the recording of property boundaries that can be rapidly updated and maintained.
TRANSFER OF A FREEHOLD TITLE
The transfer of an interest in land is by way of a deed of conveyance which is a legal instrument that has to be prepared by a legal practitioner, and registered in the Land Registry at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General. The deed can be in any form but must contain the following:
Where a land is being transferred whether by way of a conveyance for a freehold or a leasehold where the lease is for at three years, a detailed description and demarcation of the boundaries of the land is usually contained in a schedule to the deed.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that where the schedule comes before the attestation clause, it forms part of the deed and rectification of the boundaries is by a court order. Where the schedule comes after the attestation clause, rectification can be done by a supplemental deed in the appropriate circumstances.
The law requires that every (Surveys Act), illiteracy clause and blind clause., stamp duty effect, and evading tax.
A land transfer can be by way of for example a freehold for a consideration or as a gift or both, lease for a term of a year or more certain, mortgage, or a lesser interest.
|1||The purchaser conducts a title search at the Registry||1 day||SLL 20,000|
|2||The Seller and the Purchaser enter into a purchase agreement written or oral||1-2 days|
|3||A Licensed Surveyor visits the site and prepares a site plan||5 days|
|4||The Director of Surveys countersign the site plan||7 days||No Charge|
|5||Lodgement of, or delivery of Deed of Conveyance at the Land Reg and acknowledgement||1 day||No Charge|
|6||Assessment and payment of stamp duty and registration fees||1 day (Simultaneously with 5 above)||0.1% of the value of the property|
|8||Fast Track Registration||within 7days of lodgement||SLL50,000|