How to Reconstitute a Philippine Land Title

by | Nov 5, 2018 | Property Law, Title Issues

Most people go through reconstitution after they’ve gone to the Registry of Deeds (RD) only to be told that the registry’s copy of their land title has been destroyed.

This is a major Oh-No moment.

A shocked land owner who was told that the Registry of Deeds copy of the land title in the was destroyed

When the Registry’s copy of your Land Title is destroyed, a long process is needed to replace it.

Serious buyers, investors or banks will usually go to the RD to confirm the owner of a property. If the Registry cannot confirm you as the official owner, they may no longer proceed with the deal.

This is the case even if you have your owner’s title.

I go through the process of reconstitution step by step:

  • Detailed information what to expect in a reconstitution court case
  • Step by step process of a reconstitution court case (in layman’s terms, I promise!)

And – although it only applies to a limited number of cases – I also explain briefly what administrative reconstitution entails.

If instead, you are looking to replace a lost owner’s title, read this post for detailed information.

What is a Philippine Land Title?

 

When you first acquire Philippine land, the Registry of Deeds (RD) will issue you an owner’s title and will safeguard the original.

Together, these two documents confirm your ownership.

A woman with 2 land titles and a house and lot in the background.

Both the Owner’s title and the Registry of Deed’s title are proof of your ownership of the property.

When one of the them is lost or destroyed, problems arise challenging your possession.

  • When the Registry of Deed’s copy is lost or destroyed, unscrupulous people may be able to sell your property due to the absence of the title in the RD’s. This actually happened when the Quezon City Registry of Deeds burned down in 1998. Court cases continue to this day.
  • When the Registry of Deed’s copy is destroyed, buyers, banks and other investors might no longer push through with the sale or investment.

If you are planning to sell or develop your property, you will need both documents.

You might have your owner’s copy. This is not enough.

A woman holding a land title with the words

Buyers often verify your ownership of the property by looking at the title lodged in the Registry of Deeds.

There are several fake land titles in the country. Serious and cautious buyers will often go to the RD with your photocopied owner’s title to verify your possession though the RD’s copy. (In fact, I recommend this for all serious buyers. It saves a lot of trouble down the road). If the RD copy cannot be found, they may back off.

As such, the need for replacing the lost RD title through the process of reconstitution is absolutely necessary.

Note: If you have lost your owner’s copy but the RD copy is intact, the process you need to go through is called Reissuance. I go through the detailed step by step process for this in this post.

Administrative Reconstitution of your Philippine Land Title

You can reconstitute your Reegistry of Deeds (RD) copy by yourself through administrative reconstitution if:

  • The RD where the land was located announces that Administrative Reconstitution is possible. This is usually when the Registry has suffered a natural catastrophe such as a fire or a flood. More than 10% of the titles have been destroyed and at least 500 titles must have been affected. We do not maintain listings for which Registry of Deeds permit administrative reconstitution as these change all the time. You’ll have to call locally to confirm.
  • If you have your owners duplicate of the certificate of title or if you can present your co-owner’s, mortgagee’s, or lessee’s duplicate of the certificate of title
    A woman with a land title in front of her and a dialogue box with the words

    Administrative reconstitution is allowed only in very specific circumstances!

So, just to reiterate.

You can do administrative reconstitution if you have your owners or co-owner’s, mortgagee’s, or lessee’s duplicate of the certificate of title AND if the Registry of Deeds where the land is located announces that Administrative Reconstitution is allowed.

If the RD doesn’t announce you can do Administrative Reconstitution or you don’t have one of the documents, then you are going to have to go through Judicial Reconstitution.

Judicial Reconstitution of your Philippine Land Title

 

Most people will have to go through Judicial Reconstitution.

Judicial Reconstitution is a court case. [Sec 110, PD 1529]

Aside from the case specifically mentioned in the Administrative Reconstitution section, there is really no way around it. There are numerous fixers and middle men but I’ve seen enough cases to be extremely wary. The clients can be taken advantage of and the “quick fix” often doesn’t actually fix the problem.

A picture showing a land title, a petition in court and a judge.

Most people will need to go to court process to replace the lost RD copy!

Do it the correct way and avoid the very real problems you face in shady, backroom deals. You may lose a lot of money and often, a lot of time too.

Quick Facts

Case:                   Reconstitution 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:       Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title or other documents enumerated below, Other documents required by the court

Process

Step 1: File a petition with the Regional Trial Court where the land is located.

You must make sure that the petition is filed with the proper court in order for reconstitution to be successful

You must file the Petition for Reconstitution of Lost Owner’s title with the Regional Trial Court where the land is situated.

You and your lawyer will create a petition requesting the court to order the replacement of the Registry of Deeds copy.

Your lawyer will first need to assess evidence that you are the owner of the land. To do that, he would first ask you for any of the following documents:

  • Your owner’s duplicate certificate of title
    A lawyer holding a collection of documents relevant to the case.

    Your lawyer must present the proper documents to show ownership strengthen your claim.

  • Your co-owner’s, mortgagee’s or lessee’s duplicate certificate
  • Certified copy of the certificate previously issued by the RD
  • Authenticated copy of the decree of registration or patent that was the basis of the certificate of title, if the reconstitution is for the original certificate of title OR Deed of transfer or other document or an authenticated copy with the property’s description covered by the transfer certificate of title and filed at the RD, if the reconstitution if for a transfer certificate of title
  • Deed or an authenticated copy of mortgage, lease or encumbrance with the property’s description and filed at the RD
  • Any other document which is sufficient in the judgement of the court

As with any court case, you need to have strong evidence for the case to succeed.

The specific documents cited up top are documents acknowledged by the court as valid sources of reconstitution. Your lawyer will have to carefully go over your case if you can only present other proof.

When your attorney has gone over your documents, he’ll create a petition to be filed at the court.

There will be filing fees, publication fees and other document related fees such as postal or notarial fees. In addition, a land survey may have to be commissioned for LRA approval if documentary evidence isn’t strong.

Step 2: Witness Testimony

A picture showing a witness stand and the people in the courtroom seated at the back of the stand.

Witnesses may have to testify to support the case.

Before the witness’ testimony at court, your lawyer will have done the following:

  • Coordinated with the Official Gazette to publish a notice which must be completed 30 days before the court’s first hearing.
  • Complied with notice requirements
  • Worked with you to create a land survey, if needed
  • Appeared at court to show compliance to legal requirements
  • Complied with other orders of the court

All of the above will take some time, so the witness might be called to the court only several months after the filing of the petition.

Your lawyer will interview the witness and file a submission to the court called the “judicial affidavit” which goes through the facts the witness presented.

Fees related to the petition, the court appearance and other submissions will be paid.

Step 3: Court Decision

Unless there is opposition, your case should be headed for its conclusion. (a hopefully happy ending where your land title is reconstituted 🙂  ).

Your lawyer is busy now putting together the final submission to the court and dealing with any other legal requirements that court might have ordered.

The judge surrounded by evidence and court symbols to indicate the court decision.

A court decision is released after the evidence has been submitted.

The Court will release its decision and be prepared for a bit of a wait, as it can take months.

The court case is concluded at this point but remember that you still have to register this with the Registry of Deeds (RD) where the land is located.

Don’t skip registering the decision with the RD!

It is important as the RD will only reconstitute your title after the court’s decision has been registered with them. I’ll admit that it is a time-consuming process to register with the RD, but it is a very, very necessary one. (And yes, you will have to pay RD fees as well)

Summary

 

This post is written from your point of view – what you need to prepare, the steps you need to be aware of, and how the case will look from your point of view.

Judicial Reconstitution has the 3 general steps of filing a petition, preparing a witness, and waiting for the court.

You will need to undergo the three steps of Judicial Reconstitution if the copy of your title in the RD has been lost/destroyed

In general, it looks like this:

  • File and submit a petition
  • Present a witness at court
  • Wait for the court decision and register it at the Registry of Deeds

Your lawyer will take care of all the other requirements as he will attend all the other hearings, address extra court orders, and generally follow up and coordinate with the court on several other things.

(FYI, the process from the lawyer’s side is more complicated than what I’ve presented and there are a lot of court rules that he needs to comply with to make sure your case goes as smoothly as possible. Always hire good counsel, it’s better than a case dragging on forever or being denied).

A picture of a woman thinking, and a lawyer with the words

Avoid fixers and middlemen!

Take care to go through the correct process.

There are several fixers and middlemen who promise shortcuts and easy fixes. The aftermath of these “easy fixes” can be court cases against you, lost money and lost time.

If you’re successful, you should be able to easily sell or have investors look at the land to maximize its potential.

19 Comments

  1. Rahmat Abdullah

    What is the cost of reconstituting a land title if the cost of the property is 2 million pesos?

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

      Reply
  2. Anon

    I understand that this is oddly specific but what if there was a theft of the legal documents to my family’s farm land…
    and this thief was somehow able to sell the land and/or possess it without our permission?

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Hi:

      You can file a case against the person who sold it.

      The proof, the documents, and the situation must first be assessed however.

      Reply
  3. Gudo

    What if my father died and 2 of his lots don’t have a Original title. So I went to LRA to get a CTC of the land and it is still in my father’s name what is the best option to transfer the title on my name. Also have seen someone have requested a copy of original title thru LRA without my father’s consent and us what case can I file to that person?

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Hi Gudo:

      If the properties do not have a Title and the estate has not been settled, it is important to do both processes as soon as possible to avoid the very heavy fines for late settlement.

      If your father passed on or before Dec 31, 2017, then you may avail of the estate tax amnesty. This is only available for the next 2 years so you must hurry as addressing both issues may take that long, depending on the facts of the case.

      A court case to replace the titles is the only way to replace them in most cases.

      It is very difficult to really comment on your specific situation as not enough information is available.

      Reply
  4. Ben

    Hello,
    I’d like to purchase a property through a broker.
    how would I know the property is authenticated or not?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Hi Ben:

      You’d have to do a lot of research.

      You will need a copy of the title, then you will need to check that the title is valid by going to the Registry of Deeds where the property is located.

      In addition, it is best to ensure that the owner is actually the person named on the title and that he is the person selling the property to you through the broker.

      Reply
  5. Janine

    Hi,

    I read in this article that if the owner’s duplicate of title is lost or destroyed and the original copy of title in the RD is still intact. Application should be re-issuance of title. May I request for a more detailed process of this? Thank you

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

      Reply
  6. Max

    Hello,

    I work with this property owner for a condominium. I’m currently in a situation where the real estate broker who conducted the sale to this property owner hasn’t transferred the title to the buyer’s name. the title is still registered under the previous owners name. we have tried contacting this broker to ask about the transfer and the title. but, this person is uncooperative and unreachable. the current owner has been trying to reach the broker for the last year and nothing has happened. as of today, i have the deed of absolute sale as evidence the sale was done and some tax receipts.

    what should i do? apply for reissuance? file a case against a person who is really hard to find?

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

      Reply
    • Christine

      The deed of absolute sale should indicate who is responsible for the transfer. Usually, for purchase of a condominium, the buyer is responsible to transfer the title in his/her name and all fees and expenses associated with the transfer.

      Reply
  7. Lou

    My certificate of title according to rd was not properly transmitted.but they say that my owner’s duplicate copy is not fake.but they cannot find my documents.what will i do..how much does rreconstitution cost.

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

      Reply
  8. Adrian

    I have the same problem with Lou, but in their database they located the titles file(Lot no., etc.) but it has no actual title. RD issued a certification that they could not locate the file in their registry. What should be my next step? how much and how long will reconstitution take?

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

      Reply
  9. Charm

    Good Day! Ask ko lang po attorney kung paano po na bumili kami ng lupa. Binigyan po kami deed of sale. Kaso yung original title po ng previous owner nawala nya po. Tapos pumunta po kami sa registry of deeds wala din daw po sakanila yung physical copy ng title po. Yung previous owner nagfile na po reconstitution of loss of title sa trial court. Paano po yun attorney hindi po namin mailipat sa pangalan namin yung tax decleration lumalaki na po yung capital gain tax. At hindi pa po namin mapatituluhan nabili naming lupa kasi need po ng original copy ng title? Naloko po ba kami? Pwede po ba namin ipabalik yung byad namin. Please help us.Thank you.

    Reply
    • Atty. Francesco Britancio

      Sent you an email.

      Reply

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