Land Title Registry to come into effect
Legislation to bring the Land Title Registry into effect was passed in the House of Assembly without objection.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the registry was created by legislation passed in 2011 but it had yet to be brought into operation.
However with the passing of the new legislation, Colonel Burch said Friday's move meant the regime come into force at the start of next April and make information about land ownership easily accessible to any interested party.
Colonel Burch said: “Bermuda is one of the very few developed countries in the world without a system for land title registry.
“The current system of deeds-based conveyance needs to be modernised.”
Colonel Burch said that deeds of title can be copied or forged but the registry would prevent such actions and help to settle property disputes.
He added that all Government properties owned by deed have already been entered into the system which allowed staff at the registry to test check for problems.
Colonel Burch said: “In a word, this legislation provides safety and security for those who own land in this country.”
But Trevor Moniz, the Shadow Attorney-General, raised concerns about people attempting to register land that does not belong to them.
He said: “We don't want people to have the responsibility to go to the Land Title Registry every day to make sure no one registered something that they should not have registered.”
He also questioned the decision to use an indicative boundary for the registry instead of more accurate surveyed boundaries.
Mr Moniz said that because of the island's small size disputes can arise over very small amounts of space.
He added: “People fight about inches in Bermuda. Oftentimes their most valuable possession is the property that they own. Indicative borders are not the best way to proceed.”
Colonel Burch said that the registry used indicative boundaries because surveys “don't always work correctly in this country”.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, however said that as a lawyer she is aware that the existing system of deeds is problematic and expensive — especially when the deeds are lost or damaged.
She added: “The cost associated with recreating a deed are huge. A system such as this will minimalism the burden.”
Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, said historical abuses of the deed system had also allowed people to steal land.