Estates in Lebanon used to abide by the Ottoman law that organized the registration of the property rights in what was called the “Daftar Khana”, or record room, by virtue of which were registered the rights, easements, usufructs, demarcation and drafting, transfers and agreements over estates by simply mentioning their location and the name of the city or village, without any topographical description or clear and accurate measurements of their area. Moreover, the records of the “Daftar Khana” and the deeds issued to concerned parties were not established on clear legal grounds, did not reveal the adjacent owners and their approval and did not have any plan to make estate rights public. Therefore, banking and financial institutions did not trust these entries, rights or transactions. Later, the rights and transactions started to be registered at the civil courts and their entry was documented in records especially developed for being used among concerned parties.
After thorough examination, and as a result of extended expertise and several attempts to achieve the harmonization of the legal status of estates and relevant transactions, decisions no. 186, 189, 188 of 15/03/1926 and legislative decree no. 12 of 28/02/1931 were adopted.
Decision no. 186 concerned the demarcation and drafting of estates and established specialized committees to undertake surveying works and judicial supervision prior to their registration in the Property Register.
Decisions 189 and 188 established the Land Registry and described how it should be opened and kept, in addition to giving directives on how to register rights in it and make them public so citizens can benefit from them.
As for legislative decree no. 12, dated 28/02/1930, it organized the offices of the Land Registry Department (Tabo) and the registration offices, while stipulating that contracts and agreements pertaining to estates located in regions outside the Land Registry organization should be entered in the records of the Land Registry Department and registered according to its provisions.
These four decisions are the main foundations of real estate and agricultural reforms. They gave hope that better results would be achieved in the economic field where the real estate sector is a major pillar. As a result of the implementation of the works related to surveying and land registry, estates appeared clearer and more accurate with regards to their area, ownership or relevant rights. Subsequently, these estates were not subject of conflicts anymore, which helped in developing the estate sector and construction field, as well as short and long term loans, in addition to providing guarantees for all parties.
After the implementation of these decisions, relevant amendments were issued in decisions no. 44, 45 and 46 dated 20/04/1983, in order to fill the gaps and pursue what was needed. The system thus became more modern and comprehensive, without having these amendments affect the main principles that were initially adopted.
The Land Registry organization led to rights and principles that were stipulated and organized by the Property Law, by virtue of decision no. 3339 of 12/11/1930.
The Land Registry encompasses the series of documents through which one can learn the material and legal status of an estate. It is taken into effect once the demarcation and drafting works are finished and the records of the estates submitted to the Land Registry Office.
The Land Registry includes the following:
1- Property Record: kept according to the sequence of estates mentioned in it. It encompasses all the title registers relevant to a region’s estates and all the contracts, agreements and rights and their publication.
2- Complementary Documents: Such as the daily journal, the area’s map, the demarcation and drafting records and other maps and documents. The information and Land Registry entries are undeniable evidence for third parties and the principle of publicness does not affect in any way the rights registered in the journal and which have not been submitted to the Land Registry Office or entered in the Property Record yet.
The Land Registry should be kept with great caution, accuracy and security. The registrar is held responsible for any damage that might occur and should compensate for it. The State is the guarantor of its employees’ actions.
The Land Registry has become open to the public, and anyone can, after paying the legal fee, get any information entered or check the title registers in the presence of the Registrar or any of his employees. This is called the principle of publicness.
This is how the major principles of reform were established and the ownership and entries finalized. Both, the State and the citizens, were finally granted comprehensive and safe means to trade estates and funds, while using them in a proper manner in order to ensure economic growth that is essential for any modern state.
In 1998, the State started to modernize and automate the Land Registry organization; title sheets were renewed and replaced as a first step for the establishment of an integrated IT system for real estate transactions. Paper sheets were turned into digital automated ones, which saved time and facilitated the registration process and the issuance of deeds and affidavits.
The project resorted to state-of-the-art IT systems and databases that were placed in all Land Registry offices across Lebanon. Beirut’s office was the first to put them into practice in May 2001 and the remaining offices soon followed. In September 2004, Zahle’s office was the last one to finish their implementation.
Work is ongoing to develop and modernize the system and employees are being constantly trained by the Administration, the IT department and the Institute of Finance affiliated to the Ministry of Finance.
The Administration has set out other objectives to be tackled in the near future and aiming at developing the automation.
The departments of the Directorate General
- The Secretariat
- Private State Properties.
- Central Land Registry Offices at the provinces and Land Registry Offices at the districts.
- Cadastre Department.
- IT Department.
The automation of the Land registry and Cadastre
- The DGLRC has come a long way in the field of IT by establishing an integrated IT system aiming at designing, programming and implementing an automated system that harmonizes and facilitates the registration processes at the Land Registry offices and Cadastre departments. Title sheets and maps were turned from paper documents into digital automated ones, which save time when carrying out a transaction.
- The automated system has worked on facilitating the extraction of information and speeding the printing of documents such as title deeds, affidavits, maps, etc.
- Moreover, the project resorted to a state-of-the-art IT system and updated databases that were placed in all Land Registry offices across Lebanon.