AG on new land law: People on State land for 30 years can now make claim

New land title laws will allow people who’ve been on State land uninterrupted and peacefully for 30 years to have potential claim for a vesting order to request the land be given to them, says Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

The process will be available via adjudication by a Land Tribunal under the package of land laws passed in the House of Representatives over recent days, Al-Rawi added. It will be debated in the Senate next week.

He said it’s a critical collection of laws to deal with certainty of land title. It involves a new system of registration of title to land via new system of land adjudication by a special tribunal.

“It will give people indefeasible title,” Al-Rawi added.

Therefore title to land will not be subject to being lost, annulled, or overturned.

“So people now have the benefit of a State-funded programme to determine the land entitlement,” he added.

Al-Rawi said the effort was part of PNM’s manifesto promise to settle land titles. He said Government has noted fraud, delay and uncertainty regarding land title— specially in Tobago— under an archaic system. As a result, people without land title cannot use the land for collateral or otherwise. Government will begin implementing the land laws in a exercise first in Tobago. He added declarations concerning land will be made and land surveyors will go out to map the lands in a demarcation exercise. Such land will be brought under compulsory registration.

Land adjudication processes also involved will apply to people who have been on State lands (for more than 30 years) or privately-owned land (for more than 16 years) seeking title, or to ascertain if they’re entitled to this.

But Al-Rawi said there would be no agreement to allow title for State lands which are environmentally sensitive, or protected, those being used for public purposes, forests or lands with acquifers. But titles wouldn’t be allowed for environmentally protected or sensitive areas, forests, lands with acquifers or lands used for public purposes.

The adjudication process can also resolve disputes between neighbours, he added. He said the exercise, funded by IDB loans, will take years to complete.