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19th of November 2018

Bermuda News



Electronic property register extolled | The Royal Gazette:Bermuda News

Jonathan Bell

Published Oct 15, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 15, 2018 at 7:36 am)

Final accounting: Debbie Reid, the Land Registrar, told Hamilton Rotarians that her office had fielded complaints from people who said they had lost land — but a new electronic registration system would make it “very difficult” for deception to take place in the future (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Final accounting: Debbie Reid, the Land Registrar, told Hamilton Rotarians that her office had fielded complaints from people who said they had lost land — but a new electronic registration system would make it “very difficult” for deception to take place in the future (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

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A new electronic land registration system will make it harder for fraudsters to steal property, the Land Registrar has said.

Debbie Reid added her office had fielded complaints from people who said they had lost land, but a new electronic registration system would make it “very difficult” for deception to take place in the future.

Ms Reid said: “We have had complaints at our office regarding people losing their land.

“Obviously we don’t go into the details — we are just a records office. We always advise people to seek the advice of an attorney.”

She added: “But it’s going to be very difficult for that to happen on the land title registration system.”

Ms Reid was speaking at the Hamilton Rotary Club on the island’s new land title registration regime, which came into effect on August 27.

The online Norwood information system, named after Richard Norwood who surveyed Bermuda in 1616, has been worked on since 2007.

Ms Reid said the Norwood system removed the need for paper deeds and documents and was accessible online to everyone.

She added: “Once property has been registered, it can’t be adversely taken by squatters because behind it there’s transparency.

“You can’t go on to someone else’s land and say that you never knew who the owner was.”

Adverse possession or squatter’s rights has been used in the past to gain ownership of properties claimed to be abandoned when the new occupant has maintained the land for 20 years or more without challenge.

The new system, set up after Parliament approved the Land Title Registration Act this summer, was praised by Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works.

Colonel Burch said the online registry would end the “deplorable” history of property owners getting cheated out of their land.

Ms Reid said that her office had “a full appointment book” of people who wanted to register, with ten applications being processed at present. She added real estate agents had “embraced” the new register.

Ms Reid said: “We’ve been working with attorneys over the last 11 years trying to come to some sort of agreement with them. We couldn’t introduce everything they wanted, but we have tried to work closely with them to get it right.”

Ms Reid added that Bermuda was one of the last countries to adopt an electronic system of land title registration.

She said that when a property is registered, deeds are kept online with all historical documents attached.

Ms Reid explained that registration is only compulsory when a property is to be sold.

But Ms Reid said there was scope for examining the fee base to encourage other people, such as seniors, to sign on.

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