How to simplify land registration

10-01-2019

Source: Economichna Pravda

The current procedure to register land plots for construction purposes is cumbersome, non-transparent and corrupt. The Government can change it. If it finds that fit.

Every year, the population and business owners register about 1 million land plots.

Despite this, land registration for construction purposes is one of the most complicated real estate procedures, which is similar to solving equations with multiple unknown variables.

Apart from auctions, the registration will require to collect more than 50 paper documents, obtain more than 15 approvals, have 20 meetings with officials and then, if you are lucky enough, receive a cherished document confirming your right to ownership or use for one to three years.

In these years, not only meetings with local officials will become your routine. You will have to meet notaries, land surveyors, local deputies and even neighbors, who are owners of adjacent land plots.

As a result, business owners lose time and money to register the right, without which no construction project can be started. This applies not only to construction companies. Only in criminal cases, which have been investigated since 2015, damages to the state due to corruption in land relations were 450 million hryvnias.

A high level of corruption became possible due to the complexity and sticking points of the procedure for land registration, excessive number of approval procedures and documents and duplication of responsibilities of state agencies.

The StateGeoCadastre participates only in the land allocation procedure for three times: it approves documents, conducts their examination and enter the data into the register. Who benefits from such a complex scheme?

The first group is officials. The desire to retain control over the registration of land plots dominates over common sense, since each visit to officials for approval is an opportunity for their additional earnings.

The second group is deputies. There is no secret to anyone, under which schemes land cases are put to a vote in local councils, and why one cases have been gathered dust for years, while others are in the session hall.

The third group is land surveyors, appraisers and notaries. The more complex the scheme, the more rapidly the revenues of land surveying “businesses” grow.

Meanwhile, constructors keep going around in circles. In Ukraine, land legislation was developed in such a way that it is almost impossible to obtain a land plot without violations. They have to give bribes to avoid responsibility.

The current land registration procedure should be transparent, since there is both a public cadastral map and data viewing services for the State Register of Property Rights to Real Estate. However, these systems only partially reflect the land registration procedure and do not show the latest changes.

When registering a land plot, the state applies 21 instruments of state regulation, only four of which are electronic. The analysis of regulation shows that at least six instruments are useless. They can easily cancel them saving money and time for business.

This includes receiving a land availability certificate from the State Statistics Service, approving a land survey project by the StateGeoCadastre, conducting a state examination of land management documents, getting a permit to conduct an expert monetary evaluation, having an extract on normative monetary land evaluation from engineering documentation and approving the sale of state-owned and municipal land plots to foreign legal entities.

Another 14 instruments should be improved eliminating duplication and making them electronic. Of course, a low level of computer skills of users and a lack of broadband communication channels, especially in rural areas, do not facilitate the rapid introduction of electronic circulation of documents.

At the interim stage, we can consider the use of both paper and electronic records management. The automation of land registration is a long process, consisting of two dozen basic procedures. We can start small: replace paper land management documents with electronic ones.

In the long run, it is necessary to create electronic services to align boundaries with neighbors, use additional reality technologies on the maps, publish and show all the stages of land registration.

It is necessary to digitize maps of land management, forest management, environmental and urban planning documentation to include them into state cadastres. It is also necessary to scan and provide public access to materials of sharing state and agrarian lands that will allow to design a land plot without a field visit.

To start changes, we just need the desire of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and the StateGeoCadastre to transform the current long, cumbersome and non-transparent land registration procedure into an accessible and clear service for citizens and businesses.

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