Selling Land to multiple Buyers, a problem in Haiti

Many reasons exist as to why reconstruction efforts in Haiti are dragging: pledges reneged on, mis-spending, and lack of transparency. The latest obstacle to reconstruction projects is leniency in Haiti's National Land Registry Office (NLRO) regulations.


The problem with land-registry procedures began in 1804, the year of Haiti's independence from French rule. Haiti's second president, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, urged land reform as part of his platform. But in intervening years up until the present, a loophole in the NLRO's procedural guidelines has indirectly caused stalled road reconstruction and other infrastructure projects in Haiti.

Protocol for land transfers includes inspection, notarization, and fulfillment of tax assessor requirements. Bypassing bureaucratic red tape and exorbitant fees, land owners have devised their own land-transfer strategies.

The final step in land transfer is for deed owners to file a copy with the NLRO. But there exists no regulation requiring them to comply. This laxity in NLRO policies has allowed land owners to engage in fraudulent activities, with phony deeds and forged signatures, confusing procedures, and a dysfunctional bureaucracy trying to process the paperwork. As a consequence of NLRO's inability to tighten guidelines and assess penalties for non-compliance, many local and international agencies have ceased work on a project, been delayed in starting one, or opted out because of NLRO's inefficient handling of land transfers.

Officials from international and state administrative offices have created a guide to help land owners understand land-transfer laws, and how to proceed with buying, selling, and certifying land ownership.

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