Professional Speak: A title deed for your property is the most important document

A title deed provides a proof of ownership for your property. Philip Sequeira, Senior Associate at Hadef & Partners, explains the importance of the document and the paperwork involved to obtain such.

Proof of ownership

A title deed for your property is the most important document required to ensure you are, and remain, the legal owner of the property. This document is issued by the Dubai Land Department (DLD) and is a conclusive proof against third parties (except in the case of fraud or forgery) that you own the property.

If one buys a completed property and does not transfer the legal title, the property remains in the name of the seller and can be subjected to claims made against the seller or could be sold to another person or mortgaged without the buyer’s approval.

A buyer who is purchasing an off-plan property should, however, ensure that he receives an Oqood registration certificate from the developer within a week or two of signing the sale and purchase agreement (SPA). This registers the owner’s interest (ownership) in an interim register maintained by the DLD. Upon completion of the property, a title deed can be sought. Basically, whether the property is completed or off-plan, owners should always have a title deed or Oqood registration certificate to prove legal ownership.

A title deed contains all the details of what is owned by the holder, the property type, community name, building number, property code, floor number, parking space, unit size and common areas. It also has the owner’s name and the seller’s details.

Title deeds for jointly owned properties also refer to the obligations of the owner towards other owners (such as for paying service charges) pursuant to the Jointly Owned Property Declaration and the Master Community Declaration. Similarly, an Oqood certificate also contains details that the property owner ought to know.

Off-plan properties

For off-plan properties, it is the developer’s duty to register the property in the interim register (Oqood) and subsequently, upon completion, to convert the interim registration into completed registration resulting in a title deed. However, all investors should insist on the developer doing this and providing a certificate of registration to prove it, or they should check directly with RERA to make sure the unit is registered in their name. If the owner has complied with his obligations under the SPA by paying the agreed purchase price and has taken possession of the property, then the developer ought to process the title deed and hand it over to the owner or his authorised representative without delay. If the developer delays this process, the owner should approach the DLD to seek forced registration of the title deed.

Delays in title deeds

While property owners have faced difficulties in obtaining their titles in the past, the law now provides that the DLD may, upon the request of the owner or upon its own initiative, register the owner’s interest if the owner has fulfilled all his obligations.

If the owner can show that he has fully paid for his property and yet the developer is delaying the registration of the title, the DLD can force the developer to register it, or the DLD can proceed with the registration of the title on its own, without the help of the developer.

If property owners are finding it difficult to get the developer to register their titles, they should directly approach the DLD with the appropriate paperwork to seek forced registration.

Secondary market

If the property is completed, you would want to see if it has a clear title. This can be done by asking the seller to show you the original title deed and the site plan. The next step would be to see the physical property and the state of the building and the community, identify what service charges are payable, whether there are any outstanding dues payable to the developer by the seller, whether there is a mortgage registered and seek warranties from the seller that there are no other encumbrances on the property.

In addition, you should check what improvements/modifications have been done and ensure that both the master developer and the Dubai Municipality have approved these.

Source: S. Dhar, Special to Freehold

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