- Agreement for Sale: To be enforceable the agreement must be in writing and signed by all parties, that is both the vendor and the purchaser. There is no prescribed form but the agreement must include a description of the property, the parties must be identified and the purchase price or consideration must be stated. A deposit of 10% of the purchase price is paid by the purchaser to the vendor and for completion within 90 days. The terms of the agreement however are entirely within the control of the parties. This does not transfer ownership of the land but begins the process to transfer the property. There is no requirement for parties to enter into a formal agreement for the sale and purchase of land, it is advisable to do so.
- Title Search: The purchaser’s attorney must ensure that the vendor has good title tot he land and this is done by conducting a title search at the Land Registry Department. The purchaser’s attorney must investigate the title to the property to ensure that the Vendor possesses a good marketable title. In order to ensure good title the purchaser’s attorney or his title clerk must undertake a search at the Registry of Deeds at the Registrar General’s Department where all original deeds are lodged. Under the RPO system title searches are much easier. It involves an examination of the endorsements made on the Certificate of Title. An investigation of these endorsements will quickly confirm who is the present owner of the land and whether there are any mortgages or other encumbrances affecting the land. Apart from the title searches the purchaser’s attorney must ensure that there are no judgments registered against the vendor or nay previous owner of the property for the past twelve (12) years. A judgment registered against the vendor will entitle the judgment creditor (the person who obtained the judgment) to apply to the Court to sell the vendor’s property to satisfy the judgment. This can be done even after the property has been transferred to a third party i.e. the purchaser). Title searches usually take between two to three weeks to be completed. In those 90 days the attorney of the buyer will do the title searches on your property to make sure there are no encumbrances. All legal fees involves will be at the expense of the buyer.
- Certificate of Assessment: In order to apply for the WASA Clearance Certificate you first of all need to get a Certificate of Assessment which has to be obtained at the Board of Inland Revenue (Warden’s Office) or Town Hall and depending on the distrcit it might be free or cost TT$10.00 or TT20.00 to get this Certificate. This application is made to the District Revenue Office to verify that the vendor owns the property and to identify WASA lines on the land.
- WASA Clearance Certificate: As soon as an Agreement of Sale is signed and a deposit is made, you know for sure you have a buyer for your property and it is recommended to apply for the WASA Clearance Certificate immediately after the signing. You need t o get the WASA Clearance Certificate whether it is hosue and land, or land alone. You also have to apply even if you have no WASA connection or you never paid any Water Rates. Even if there are no WASA lines at all, you still have to apply. A property transfer cannot be done until the seller has the WASA Clearance Certificate on the relevant property. The reason for applying after the signing is because the cost for the WASA Clearance Certificate application has to be paid for the seller and a Clearance Certificate is only valid for 3 months, so if you apply in advance, you might waste your money. The cost for applications on Domestic properties is TT$460.00 and for Commercial and Agricultural property TT862.50. When your application is in and you paid the required fees you can expect to pick the Clearance Certificate up within 3 weeks. I advise however to regularly keep checking WASA by phone until they tell you it’s ready.
- Purchaser to provide 1. original certificate of title along with Cadastral Sheet or The Surveyor’s Map (a map that outlines the boundaries, size and measurements of the land. You will need this in order to apply for the WASA Clearance Certificate) 2. valuation 3. current receipts (original) for WASA 4. current land and building tax receipts (original) 5. WASA clearance certificate 6. Town and country planning approvals if any
- The Valuation: From January 1st, 2014, every property that sells in Trinidad and Tobago must have a Valuation not older than 6 months done on it for the Registrar General to determine the Stamp Duty. The Valuation has to be done by an RICS Registered Valuer or Valuation Company and unless otherwise agreed, organised by the purchaser and at his/her expense.
- Stamp Duty: In accordance with the Stamp Duty legislation of Trinidad and Tobago, a number of documents require stamping. Some of these include: Deeds of Conveyance; Deeds of Gift; Deeds of Mortgage; Release of Mortgage Loan; Release of Life Insurance Policies; Powers of Attorney; Transfer of Sales; Deeds of Lease; Deed Polls; Bonds etc. The Memorandum of Transfer is sent to the Board of Inland Revenue along with the property Valuation, utility rates and land and building receipts for assessment. All documents to be stamped are provided by the individual. Requisition Forms which are to be completed are available at the Stamp Duty Section. Payments can be made by certified cheques, cash, and LINX (Debit Card drawn on a TT bank account). Individuals should seek assessment of documents for stamping from the staff at the stamp duty section prior to completion of payment cheques. Paid by the purchaser. Rates:WITH EFFECT FROM OCTOBER 1ST 2008, the stamp duty applicable on deeds executed for the transfer of residential properties will be as follows –
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY (INCLUDING DWELLING HOUSE)
The sale or other disposal of residential properties valued at $850,000 or less SHALL BE EXEMPT from stamp duty.
The following rates of stamp duty SHALL BE payable on the sale or other disposal of residential properties (with dwelling house) whose values exceed $850,000:
- For every dollar of the first $400,000 in excess of $850,000 – 3%
- For every dollar of the next $500,000 – 5%
- For every dollar thereafter – 7.5%
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY (LAND ONLY)
The sale or disposal of residential land valued at $450,000 or less shall be EXEMPT from Stamp Duty.
- For every dollar of the first $200,000 in excess of $450,000 – 2%
- For every dollar of the next $200,000 in excess of $650,000 – 5%
- For every dollar thereafter in excess of $850,000 – 7%
N.B: RATES FOR COMMERCIAL / AGRICULTURAL PROPERTIES REMAIN UNCHANGED.
- Registration: Only after stamping will the instruments be registered. Registration is mandatory under the RPO system as the Ordinance provides that no instrument shall be effective to pass any estate or interest in lands until registered under the Ordinance. The Memorandum of Transfer and the original duplicate Certificate of Title are submitted to the Land Registry Department for registration/endorsement. Advise client on time process/errors/time-frame.
- Return of Ownership: Once the instrument has been registered the purchaser’s attorney will usually prepare a Return of Ownership Form which the purchaser must take to the Warden’s Office or the District Revenue Officer for the particular area in which the land is situated to have their records updated. The property will thereafter be assessed for Lands and Buildings Taxes in the name of the purchaser.
- Legal Fees: Cost can be born by either party depending on their agreement. Fees prescribed in the Legal Profession Act: Schedule 2 Conveyancing Transactions under the Real Property Act
1. For preparing Transfers.. the following scale of charges shall be applicable:
Scale of Charges
$500.00 for Consideration or amount secured Not exceeding $25,000.00
$500.00 for the first $25,000.00 of the consideration and $30.00 for every $5,000.00 or part thereof of the consideration in excess of $25,000.00
This post does not constitute or provide legal advice neither does it establish an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.