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The Perks of Converting Manually-Issued Land Titles to E- Titles.

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The Perks of Converting Manually-Issued Land Titles to E-Titles.

A land title or a certificate of title serves as best evidence of one’s ownership over a piece of land. Among other things, it provides and confirms a property’s location, its metes and bounds (boundary lines), size or area, as well as the name of its legitimate owner. Ordinarily, a land title is made of paper, and thus susceptible to being forged, lost, misplaced or destroyed by wear and tear, fire or similar natural and man-made disasters. Needless to say, it is at times troublesome for an owner to preserve and maintain such a document.

 

Upgrading to e-Titles

It was back in 2008 when the Land Registration Authority (LRA) launched the Land Titling Computerization Project, part of which allowed manually-issued, paper-made land titles to be converted into e-titles under the e-Titling Conversion Project.

As a result, the original titles in the Registry of Deeds’ Vault are now digitized and stored in the computer database, while the owners’ duplicate copies can now be converted to e-titles. The conversion involves scanning and digitization of manually- issued land titles (with red borders), the relevant title information, and the storage of these records in secure databases. Certainly this is a welcome development, since apart from avoiding the problems with paper-based land titles, it also ensures that the title records of the Registries of Deeds are easily accessible and that copies are electronically preserved and backed-up securely for future reference.

 

Confusion

On July 31, 2018, owners of land titles received a slight shock when the LRA published a notice to the effect that September 30, 2018, was the deadline to scan/digitize manually issued titles. This caused some concern and confusion until a subsequent clarification made it known that the due date applied only to the LRA’s Registries of Deeds, who were directed to retrieve, scan and digitize the remaining manually-issued land titles which were not yet in the database. Owners of manually issued titles learned, to their relief, that these remained valid and effective even if they had not been digitized by the September 30 deadline. Indeed, it is only optional for owners to upgrade these titles, though they are strongly encouraged to do so, pursuant to LRACircular 02-2016 as amended by LRACircular 02-2017.

 

Perks of e-Titles

  1. Better Protection from Various Forms of Real Estate Fraud and Scams e-Titles are stored in a virtual Registry of Deed vault and can only be accessed and shared within the 154 LRA extension office kiosks. This is intended to minimize the number of court cases and disputes involving fake and spurious land titles (copies that do not come from legitimate sources). Moreover, existing annotations on the paper title are carried over to the e-title, including pending court cases, alerting would-be buyers or those who have claims or an interest in the land.
  2. Enhanced Real Estate Transactions With the creation of an e-titles database, procurement and verification of Certified True Copies of Land Titles, as well as retrieving information regarding the history of ownership of a property, becomes a lot easier for both sellers and, especially, purchasers of real estate, who need to determine the status of a property as well as the possible existence of other claimants. This dispenses with the old methods that would often take days, weeks or months of legwork and follow-up.
  3. Faster Real Estate Mortgage Processing For financing or home loan purposes, banks and financial institutions hosting LRA extension office kiosks require much less time – from a matter of days, previously, to a matter of minutes, now – to verify the authenticity of a land title offered as collateral. More importantly, land title owners need not visit the Registry of Deeds where their titles were registered and can instead avail themselves of the “anywhere-to-anywhere” service (A2A) whereby they can request certified true copies of the e-titles in the database from any Registry of Deeds with online services.
  4. Simplified Processing in Replacing Lost or Destroyed Titles e-Titles face no risk of damage or loss. Even if a Registry of Deeds office were to be gutted by fire, records are safely preserved in the database.
  5. Efficient Government Processes Digitized titles are less time-consuming and reduce bureaucratic red tape. This creates the perception of a government progressing from slow deliverer to a more efficient service provider. In turn, this encourages property owners to be proactive about managing their most prized possession.
 

Go and Covert to e-Titles!

With the convenience and protection offered by e-titles, there is no doubt that converting to these should be the trend for every title owner. To avail themselves of the service, property owners simply need to bring the owner’s duplicate title and other required documents to the Registry of Deeds or the nearest satellite office. The LRA personnel will match the duplicate copy to the original to validate authenticity. Once validated, the conversion process of the manual title to e-title will commence. It will only take a few days and the owner’s duplicate e-title will be ready for pick-up – all for the price of a movie date!

 

Atty. Bayani B. Brillante, Jr. July 10, 2019. Picture by Jonathon Young at Unsplash

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