With the prevalence of fraudulent land titles and deceitful land sales in the Philippines, nothing is more important than verifying the authenticity of the title or ensuring that there are no limitations or legal claims on the land when purchasing real estate properties there. In a nutshell, aspiring property owners hope to buy a piece of land with a clean and clear title. Checking the existence of a title with the Registry of Deeds where the land is located is the best way to verify its authenticity.
What is a Registry of Deeds?
A Registry of Deeds is a government office that provides a means to preserve documents such as legal instruments and notices. In some cases, the Registry of Deeds may also contain records for other types of documents besides deeds (e.g., mortgages, liens, etc.). The purpose of the registry is to maintain records of ownership for land and real estate transactions. When we say “deeds,” we are referring to documents that establish ownership or title to land. These deeds give evidence of the rights and interests held by each owner of the property, whether it be residential or commercial property. In addition to maintaining records on real property transactions, registries may provide additional services such as recording wills, military discharges, and security agreements (such as those involving cars).
First of all, a registry of deeds is not a court. If you have questions about your legal rights or the way the registry works, visit another government office for assistance. Second, a registry of deeds is not a real estate office. The registry does not track houses for sale or rent and does not have information about the value of the real estate. The Registry of Deeds is usually located in the town hall or county courthouse and keeps records relating to ownership of land and real estate in that town or county. Examples include:
● The names of people who own land there
● Who has borrowed money from whom by using land as collateral
● Which homes are part of a subdivision (development)
The Philippine Commission implemented Act 496, known as the Land Registration Law, on November 6, 1902, which established the Court of Land Registration (CLR) and the office of the Registry of Deeds. The Torrens System of registration was implemented by the Law, which permits real estate ownership to be judicially confirmed and recorded in the government’s archives. On February 1, 1903, the Torrens System took effect.
In the Philippines, clients needing information about the title to lands go to the Registry of Deeds (RD) office concerned. It is in this office that the service rendered to the public by the Land Registration Authority is done. Today, there is one hundred sixty-eight (168) Registry of Deeds in the Philippines.
According to Presidential Decree no. 1529 Section 7, there should be at least one Registry of Deeds for each province and one for each city in the Philippines. Every Registry with a yearly average collection of more than sixty thousand pesos (₱60,000.00) during the last three years shall have one Deputy Register of Deeds, and every Registry with a yearly average collection of more than three hundred thousand pesos (₱300, 000.00) during the last three years shall have one Deputy Register of Deeds and a second Deputy Register of Deeds. The Secretary of Justice shall define the official station and territorial jurisdiction of each Registry upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Land Registration, with the end view of making every registry easily accessible to the people of the neighboring municipalities. The province or city shall furnish a suitable space or building for the office of the Register of Deeds until the same could be furnished out of national funds.
Specifically, a Registry of Deeds in the Philippines is tasked with the following:
- Register deeds affecting registered (Act 496) and unregistered (Act 3344) properties as well as deeds on personal properties under the Chattel Mortgage Law;
- Entry and issuance of original certificates of title (OCT) according to judicial decrees and patents; entry and issuance of all transfer certificates of title according to the registration of all subsequent dealings, voluntary or involuntary, on registered land
- Collection of entry, registration, legal research, and assurance fund fees following the rates provided by the law;
- Reconstitution of lost certificates of title in accordance, with the provisions of Republic Act No. 26 as amended by PD 1529;
- Cooperation with other agencies of government in the collection of taxes and fees such as land transfer tax, capital gains tax, donor’s gift tax, estate tax, real estate tax, residence tax, privilege tax;
- Cooperation with other government agencies regarding the land reform program under PD 27 by complying with land reform requirements before registration;
- Repository of all titles, deeds, and records within the limits of its jurisdiction.
Registry of Deeds in the Philippines is also responsible for the following services;
- Provision of records retrieval services regarding requests for the reference to, or research on any document, titles on file, and issuance of certified true copies.
- Verification of history titles.
Furthermore, the Regional Registry of Deeds in the Philippines is in charge of the following:
● Exercise immediate administrative supervision over all provincial and city Registrars of Deeds and other personnel within the region.
● Implement all orders, decisions and decrees promulgated relative to the registration of land titles within the region and issue, subject to the approval of the Administrator, all needful rules and regulations, therefore.
● Implement policies, programs, memoranda, orders, circulars, and rules and regulations of the Authority.
● Answer queries relative to registration of deeds.
● Coordinate with regional offices of other departments, bureaus/ agencies under the Department of Justice, and with the local governments and police units in the region.
● Extend speedy and effective assistance to the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Land Bank of the Philippines, and other agencies in the implementation of the land reform program the government.
Necessary Forms as Regulated by Land Registration Authority
Concerning Land Registration Authority (LRA) Circular No. 17-2021 on August 3, 2021, with the subject, “Use of LRA Guides for the Improved Entry of Mandatory Registration Information for Transactions in the Registries of Deeds”, all Registry of Deeds in the Philippines shall start requiring the use of the undermentioned forms so that documents are entered correctly and more efficiently. This means provisions for the adoption of the following Land Registration Authority Mandatory Registration Information (“MRI”) Forms:
● MRI Form for Real Estate Mortgage (“REM”);
● MRI Form for Cancellation of Real Estate Mortgage (“CAN-REM”);
● MRI Form for Deed of Absolute Sale (“DOAS” or “Sale”); and,
● MRI Form for Deed of Donation.
To sum it up, every city or province in the Philippines has its Registry of Deeds, which houses the original titles to all registered lands within its borders. Furthermore, owners of registered lands receive an Owner’s Duplicate Certificate that matches the original title on file with the Registry of Deeds. As a result, a buyer can easily verify the title’s authenticity by comparing it to the Registry of Deeds’ single original title on file.
To provide some context, the Owner’s Duplicate Certificate is either an Original Certificate of Title (OCT) if it is the first title issued on the land, or a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) if it was issued after the first title. A Transfer Certificate of Title is usually issued after the title is transferred from the first registered owner to someone else, and the Original Certificate of Title is canceled. All succeeding transfers (either by sale, donation, or any other legal means) will result in the issuance of a Transfer Certificate of Title as well.
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Written by MC Sanchez