Country Report for Saint Kitts and Nevis
MODERNISATION OF PROPERTY REGISTRATION SYSTEM
Present Land Status
Without the benefit of precentages, it is accurate to say that most lands in the Federation are unregistered. This may be the result of the informality of legal arrangements between transferors and transferees, the expense of an application for registration and that estate lands once owned by plantation owners were mostly purchased by the government.
Property Registration Procedure
If an owner or person in possesssion of lands desires to register his lands, an application for first title would have to be made under the Title by Registration Act 1887. The procedure is outlined in the statute, however, it is not a simple one and as such applicants would seek the assistance of solicitors for advice. The application procedure has several stages beginning with the suveying of lands, preparing the formal application with supporting documents, servicing of notices, advertising the application, hearing in court, and finally, upon a court order being granted, the registered title being issued.
The applicant is required by supporting documents to prove his title and represent fully the truth concerning the title thereof. Advertisement, service of notices and the court hearing are additional safeguards against unscrupulous persons' attempts of registering lands not rightfully theirs or registering without noting the interests of others. The government plans to create a computerized mapping of the country. This will lead to the promotion of the computerized recording of land ownership, which will benefit future applicants, purchasers, government departments and any other interested person.
If an interested member of the public wants information on the procedure of the registration of lands, he may contact the registrars of the High Courts (one for each of the two islands of the Federation) who may advise him iand if so necessary direct him to seek the assistance of a solicitor. There is no formal effort to disseminate information regarding these procedures.
There is an administrative cost, in addition to the solicitor and the surveyor's fees, for the titling of land, that is, for example transfers, caveats and mortgages incur other additional fees. If there were an application for the first title simultaneously with another registration affecting the land, for example the endorsement of mortgage, administrative fees would not overlap as the owner would pay the additional fees incurred by the simultaneous registration.
The costs and fees associated with titling would not normally cost less than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2500.00 EC). This has deterred landowners from applying for land titles and instead opting to pass on this task to their successors.
The land registry is not yet computerized, therefore all transfers, mortgages, caveats and any other changes affecting proprietorship have to be recorded manually. However, the Department of Lands and Housing is on the verge of a project scheduled to be completed in June 2000 of computer mapping which will exhibit the terrain, housing and road, and from this base map, others can be developed showing ownership for fiscal and legal uses.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Land disputes are usually adjudicated in Courts, however, whenever possible, solicitors promote out of court settlements that would benefit the interest of both parties without expensive and lengthy litigation.