In January 2022, the National Agency of Public Registry (NAPR) of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia launched an ambitious nationwide reform of systematic land registration.
Since 1992, despite several reforms related to land registration and the creation of cadastral maps, the initial registration process of land has yet to be completed. 1/3 of land (except for the occupied territories) in Georgia is still not registered and/or accurately recorded in the unified cadastral database. This means that a significant part of land is excluded from the economic turnover.
The nationwide systematic land registration reform is a three-year project aiming at completing the land registration process across the country.
The private, state or municipal land plots in all municipalities of Georgia (except for occupied territories and self-governing cities – Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi and Poti) will be systematically surveyed and registered in 2022-2024. The reform covers more than 1000 administrative units of the country.
The Systematic Land Registration reform will support:
• Protection of owners’ rights,
• Development of social projects,
• Implementation of effective land administration and land use policies that will promote sustainable economic growth in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors.
We spoke to Oleg (Bacho) Tortladze, Systematic Land Registration reformChairman of NAPR, to find out more.
“The Systematic Land Registration Reform covers all municipalities of Georgia (except for occupied territories and self-governing cities – Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi and Poti),” he says. “Within three years, according to the approved schedule, 1,200.000 hectares of unregistered land will be surveyed and registered. Meanwhile, the accuracy and quality of already registered data also will be verified and improved.
“The schedule of the areas for conducting systematic cadastral survey and registration was determined according to the following criteria:
• Lack of registered area;
• Number of land plots to be registered;
• Population size;
• Geographic location;
• Climate conditions.
“Within the framework of systematic land registration, from January 1 to June 30, 2022, more than 730 employees were recruited (6 coordinators, 251 registrars, 10 registrar managers, 437 real estate surveyors, 20 managers of immoveable property surveyors and 10 public announcement specialists) at NAPR,” Tortladze notes. “Apart from human resources, special off-road vehicles and surveying instruments have been procured, used for field cadastral surveys.
“Innovative methods are leveraged in the process to ensure anti-corruption practices and enhance the transparency and efficiency of the registration process, for instance, web application of e-minutes. UAVs (drones) are also actively used to get accurate and high-resolution orthophotos, allowing technical inspection of the field surveys of land plots.
“Cadastral survey works were completed (with WB support) in 21 administrative units. 47,400 (12,088 ha) land plots were surveyed and, to date, 14,540 land plots have been registered. The total number of owners is 18,489, with unique female owners amounting to 9,030,” Tortladze tells us.
Systematic and Sporadic Land Registration
Systematic registration is the proactive process when the government initiates a systematic survey of land plots in specific areas, collects relevant documentation, and registers land titles. Sporadic registration means registration of land titles on the basis of an application and registration documents submitted by an interested person.
Within the framework of systematic registration, citizens will receive the following services free of charge:
• Land cadastral survey works;
• Preparation of a cadastral plan;
• Retrieval and systematization of titling documents;
• Certification of the signatures of the parties to the transaction;
• Recognition/legalization of ownership of illegally occupied land plots;
• Notary mediation;
• Statement of facts;
• Determination of compliance of titling document with the location of the land plot;
• Registration of land ownership rights and making changes to the registered data
Citizens register land free-of-charge, at no additional cost. The registered land means that ownership is secured and guaranteed by the state. Initial registration allows the citizens to enjoy the ownership rights fully, i.e. that initial registration is a pre-condition for conducting any transaction on the immovable property whether it is mortgage, sales or lease. It will enable the citizens to use their land to secure a loan and use it at their discretion.
Citizens living abroad also can register their land under the systematic land registration reform and enjoy the benefits of having registered land ownership.
Systematic registration does not affect the “social status” of the citizens.
The Registration Process
Once systematic registration is started in the administrative unit, citizens who own/possess a land plot in the registration area receive SMS notification on the commencement of works, and they have the opportunity to register the land plot. In the registration process, citizens need to correctly indicate the boundaries of the land plot to an employee of the National Agency of Public Registry, attend the survey process, confirm the use of the land plot by the owner/landholder/user of at least two adjacent land plots located in the same registration block, or by the owner/landholder/user of at least three non-adjacent land plots and sign the on-site minutes in the presence of a witnesses.
The project envisages a multi-step system for registering land ownership rights, which ensures the accuracy of cadastral and legal data on the registered land.
The following steps will be implemented according to the registration areas:
– Preparatory works (including document retrieval and processing);
– Awareness campaign and social mobilization;
– Field cadastral survey works;
– Quality control of data;
– Public display of data (part of publicity).
Following the completion of the above steps, the right to the land plot will be registered.
Within the systematic land registration, all private, state or municipal land plots in all municipalities of Georgia (except for occupied territories and self-governing cities – Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi and Poti) will be systematically surveyed and registered.
A person who wants to register unlawfully occupied land, should correctly indicate the boundaries of the land plot to a NAPR employee; attend the survey process; confirm the fact of squatting/unlawfully occupying the land plot by the owner/landholder/user of at least two adjacent land plots located in the same registration block, or by the owner/landholder/user of at least three non-adjacent land plots; sign the on-site inspection minutes with a witnesses.
Raising Public Awareness
The awareness-raising campaign is a very important component for the successful implementation of the reform. It involves proactive information dissemination to all the state bodies, local authorities and NGOs operating in the country, private sector and Georgian citizens, and immigrants through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. To that end, various media are used, for instance, the NAPR website and Facebook page, YouTube and the reform web portal (napr.gov.ge). The awareness campaign also includes providing information to the local population in their native languages using all the available information channels (such as local and national television stations, radio, printed materials, social networks, etc.).
Social mobilization in the administrative unit starts with collection of the contact data of the interested persons. According to an agreed schedule, the population is informed when the field works (cadastral survey/measurements of land plots) will be conducted; Georgian citizens abroad are informed and the data on the land parcels in their ownership are received electronically. Following verification of the landowners’ data, information is distributed and a detailed description of the land title registration process and procedures are provided (especially the recognition of property rights to unlawfully occupied/squatted land parcels).
Social mobilization is also important for public display of the collected data, seeing all the relevant information channels used to inform interested persons on the surveyed land parcels, period and place of the public display and the procedures for getting more detailed information. Social mobilization also focuses on women’s engagement and security of property rights of people with disabilities.
The total cost of the systematic land registration is estimated at 120 mln GEL, of which 15 million GEL is contributed by the World Bank. In view of the importance of the reform, other costs will be allocated from the state budget on an annual basis. More than 730 surveyors/registrars have been recruited at NAPR for implementation of the systematic land registration reform. These newly recruited surveyors take intensive training courses and go through a certification process before starting field surveys.
Apart from human resources, technical resources, special off-road vehicles and surveying instruments have been procured, which is used for field cadastral surveys.