What To Do When You’ve Lost Your Philippine Land Title
If you’ve lost your Philippine Land Title and cannot find it, you will need to go to court to get a new copy.
This post explains:
- the detailed, step by step process you need to go through
- Actual documentary requirements and how to comply with them
- Practical advice from your point of view (no unnecessary legalese, I swear).
While the process might seem inconvenient, replacing your lost owner’s title is very important to sell, lease or otherwise maximize the property.
Introduction to Philippine Land Titles
A Philippine Land Title is the primary document that proves your ownership.
It is generally called an owner’s title. Depending on the circumstances, it can more specifically be called:
- Original Certificate of Title – issued to owners when the land is first registered
- Owner’s Duplicate Copy of the Transfer Certificate of Title – issued to subsequent owners after the registration.
- Condominium Certificate of Title – issued to owners of condominium units
All these different names still really just mean that it is an owner’s title.
Now, you might say that an owner’s title isn’t important since you already live on the property.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
It is difficult to sell, mortgage or lease your property when you don’t have the title. It is also difficult for your property to be inherited by your children. Essentially, you need the title to transfer or use the land for more than your personal residence.
Reissuance is Needed for Lost Philippine Owner’s Land Titles
An owner’s title can be lost in many ways.
I’ve come across instances of fire, flood and theft. I’ve heard stories of simple misplacement. And in a battle versus termites and often fragile land titles, termites won.
In all these situations, the only way to replace your lost owner’s title is through a court process called reissuance. It is a process laid down by the law in Sec 109 P.D. 1529 and there is no other way around it.
Just a few notes.
Reissuance shouldn’t be confused with reconstitution.
Reissuance is when your owner’s title has been destroyed while reconstitution is when the title to your land held by the Registry of Deeds is also destroyed. Reissuance is what we discuss in detail here.
Reissuance shouldn’t be resorted to if the owner’s title is with a 3rd person.
Resorting to reissuance when the title is in the hands of a 3rd party like a lender simply to cancel the debt means that there is a risk that the new title will be declared invalid. [G.R. 170539, Jul 2008]
There is really no way to replace a lost title except through a court case.
Case: Reissuance of Lost Owner’s Title
Timeline: 1 – 1 ½ years, depending on the court’s schedule
Cost: Court Fees, Registry of Deeds Fees, Lawyer’s Fees
Testimony: At least once, or more as needed by the court
Documents: Annotated Loss on Certified True Copy of Title, Tax Declarations and Assessments, Other documents required by the court.
File an affidavit of loss with the registrar of deeds
An Affidavit of Loss identifies the property through its title number and its tax declaration. It explains how the title was lost to the Registry of Deeds.
It is created with your attorney and the filed with the Registry of Deeds where the property is located.
It is important to file with the Registry of Deeds. When people inquire about the property with the Registry, they will be informed that the owner’s title has been lost. This prevents unscrupulous people from claiming they are the owners.
Also take this opportunity to gather essential court documents that you will need, for instance, the Certified True Copy of Title, among several others.
Registry of Deed filing fees to register with the Affidavit of Loss can vary. This will be higher if you are also gathering other essential court documents.
File with the regional trial court.
The next step would be to create your petition with your lawyer requesting the court to issue a new owner’s copy.
There will be several documentary attachments, all proving that you are the owner:
- Affidavit of Loss that you filed in step 1.
- Certified True Copy of Title showing your name which you can get from the registry of deeds
- Tax Declaration and all its attachments from the municipal hall where the land is located
- Other documents and requirements complying with the rules of court, which your attorney will be aware of.
It may be difficult to get the documents required but it is important to complete them and follow what your attorney advises. It is on the strength of this documentary proof that your case will be decided.
This petition will be filed with the Regional Trial Court where the land is located.
Filing fees and attorney’s fees will be paid.
Testify in Court
You should ideally go to Court at least once to testify to the facts of the case.
You may have your co-owner do this but the point is that the court needs to hear from your as to the validity of the facts.
Note that this primer is built from your point of view. This is what is of interest to you – what you need to accomplish, review and gather and when you need to appear in court.
However, your attorney will also be complying with other court orders and requirements for this case.
The Court will decide based on the Evidence you and your attorney submitted.
If all goes well and if you have strong documentary proof, your case will likely be approved.
The Court’s Decision will become final when no-one challenges the case. A case can be challenged when someone who has a share in the land or the city prosecutor objects.
Filing of the Court Decision at the Registry of Deeds
After the Court issues its decision, you need to register it with the registry of deeds.
This will start the process to get your new owner’s title.
This is often a bothersome process as it can necessitate several trips. You will also need to pay to register with the Registry of Deeds.
They will process your request and you will finally be issued a new owner’s title.
As promised, this is a primer on how to get a new owner’s title and gives you the information that is really pertinent to you in terms of process, documents and fees.
Your lawyer will handle other court requirements as they come along, but these have to deal more with complying with Philippine law or orders of the court. Your lawyer will also guide you as to additional requirements that may vary depending on the specific facts of your case.
Do choose a lawyer you can trust going into this process.
A good lawyer will keep you updated and show you the written submissions to the court.
Do not go through a middle man or someone who has “connections”. There are so many who are victimized by unscrupulous people claiming they can easily issue a new land title. This is untrue and you may lose a lot of money and be faced with a court case against you if things go badly.
Do things aboveboard and you will have nothing to fear.
In addition, your case will often be much faster if you go through the process with a good lawyer. We’ve heard promised “quick fixes” take years!
As you can see the process is straightforward.
Although it will depend on the facts of your particular case, your case will likely succeed if:
- You have all your documents and strong proof
- You are involved in the process and can provide information
With this, the court will likely grant your request and you will get your new owner’s title without too much further trouble.