Non Availability of Supporting Sale Documentation
What happens if Supporting Documentation is not available at the time a Sale is made?
When a house is being sold, there is a bundle of supporting documentation needed by the Buyer’s Attorney (and the bank if the Buyer is borrowing) which the Vendor must make available once the Sale Agreement is signed.
But what happens if one or more of these documents is not available?
In other words, how many possibilities are there for the Agent to be asked to do additional work on behalf of the Vendor who cannot produce all that is required by the Buyer’s Attorney. (We will assume the Agent does all the additional work.)
Standard Supporting Documentation for a House Sale
- Certified Copy of Title Deed
- Certificate of Title if RPA title is involved
- Proof of payment of Land & Building tax up to 2009 when it was last levied
- Legible and relatively current copy of a Survey Plan
- T&C approval of construction depending on age of the house
- Completion Certificate depending on age of the house
- WASA Clearance and copy of last bill paid
Being realistic, there often are missing copies, or old or photo-copied documents where an original may be needed. So let us assume each in turn is not available and must be found.
If a Certified Copy of the Deed is not provided, the agent can request one from the Registrar General’s Department in the Ministry of Legal Affairs. This can be done online these days or by making an appointment via the link below. Delivery may only take a couple of weeks at a cost usually of below $25. Link to Registrar-General:
The Certificate of Title (CoT)
The owner will be in possession of one of two originals of this type of title document. A photocopy is usually presented at the time of sale and the original on completion. If the CoT is missing, then an attorney must apply for a replacement and that process typically takes 6 months at a cost of around $10,000.
Payment of L&B Taxes
Proof of payment can be in the form of a 2009 L&B Tax Receipt, but more recent requests will be for a Certificate of Payment of Taxes. If neither of these is available, a request can still be made of the BIR by providing them with the unique Assessment No. given to the land when it was originally registered and assessed for property tax. If the Vendor does not have a note of the Assessment No, it should be possible to find it on a WASA bill just below the customer name and address.
If there is no way to trace this assessment number, a check must be made with the BIR to see if they can identify by other means the parcel of land now owned by the Vendor. If the parcel is not found on the register, it is usually because ownership was never notified to the BIR via a copy of the registered Title Deed and so the Vendor’s title is not actually registered for taxation purposes. Providing a Certified Copy of the Vendor’s Title Deed will usually rectify this oversight. If the parcel of land is located in Tobago, then a Return of Ownership is usually made as title is conveyed, but if it was not made, it can be done retroactively by submitting a Return, or a Certified Copy of the registered Deed and the land registry will be brought up to date.
It is the responsibility of the Vendor to show or prove his land boundaries and a survey plan is therefore provided to the Buyer. If the Vendor cannot provide a copy, it is possible to obtain a copy via a title search of the last registered Deed to which a plan is normally attached. In the event that no plan is found, and particularly if land boundaries are unclear and have to be re-established, then a new survey has to be commissioned. The Agent may have to arrange the site visit to facilitate the Surveyor, and may have to share copies of the Deed and any other documentation requested by him.
Town & Country Planning (TCPD) Approval
If the Buyer’s attorney calls for any T&C documentation that the Vendor does not have on record it is usually possible to obtain copies from TCPD. If it turns out that no applications have been made for Outline or Final Approval, then the matter gets more complicated and may result in the Agent actually applying retroactively for the approvals needed to either create a bona fide parcel, or to approve the parcel for residential use. All TCPD forms should be available online from : https://tcpd.gov.tt/documents/
Public Health Completion Certificate
If the Attorney calls for a Completion Certificate and one is not available, this too could be requested provided construction plans were submitted to T&C for approval and were signed off by Public Health who do the final completion inspection, based on their copy of the approved house plans. The enquiry should begin with Town & Country to locate the approved plans and get its reference number if any.
WASA Clearance Certificate and Bill
This document is not provided by the Vendor but applied for by him or the agent prior to completion. The timeframe would depend on how long the document takes to be generated by WASA. It is also important to do it as late as possible so that when completion takes place the certificate is still current. Its purpose is to certify that no money is owed by the Vendor to the government-owned utility company, but if the next billing period is reached before completion, then of course there would be further liability until that bill is paid. For that reason, it is usual to provide a copy of the current billing and proof of payment in addition to the clearance.