Manchester residents get land titles

February 09, 2023

Twenty residents of New Forest and surrounding communities in Manchester received certificates of title for property they have occupied for several years.

The documents, provided under the National Land Agency's (NLA) Systematic Land Registration (SLR) programme, were handed over during a ceremony held on Tuesday at the New Forest High School. Under the SLR programme, people receive assistance to become legal owners of the land that they have lived on openly and undisturbed, and have had undisputed possession for 12 years or more.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that 40 per cent or 350,000 parcels of land in Jamaica are unregistered, and many persons are occupying property for which they do not have titles.

This, he argued, prevents them "from using the value of the land for the benefit of themselves and their families or as a tool for wealth creation."

He noted that living, farming and existing on the land does not unlock its true value.

"If you want to go a step further in creating wealth and value out of the land, you need to have government's backing of the land to say you own it and can claim its value if you want to sell it," he said. "If you wanted to put it up as collateral to get more capital to create greater wealth for education or business, not having a title would prevent you from taking the next step to wealth creation and a departure from poverty."

The prime minister said that the Government is committed to breaking the informality that exists in land occupation in Jamaica and putting legitimate titles in the hands of citizens.

Senior Director, Adjudication Services at the NLA, Shalise Porteous, explained that the agency has been mandated by Government to issue 20,000 certificates of title in three years, ending March 2024, and 12,000 of that amount will be delivered via SLR. The programme commenced in January 2021 and more than 16,000 parcels of land have been investigated, and rights and interests in another 8,000 parcels in St Elizabeth, St Catherine and Manchester have been already adjudicated.

She said that as of January 31, a total of 7,169 adjudication certificates have been issued, yielding a corresponding number of titles.

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