Subdivision is the process of dividing a parcel of land into a number of lots and obtaining individual titles (splinter titles) for each lot. A subdivision can be useful for a number of purposes whether it be a residential, commercial, agricultural or industrial one. Subdivision approval must be obtained from the relevant Parish Council before the land can be divided into the various lots. The procedure for obtaining subdivision approval is cumbersome and challenging at times. Set out hereunder is a brief summary of the steps involved in obtaining subdivision approval which can assist in making the application process less tedious. Firstly, a subdivision application form must be completed and submitted to the relevant Parish Council. It is highly recommended that the applicant consults with a commissioned Land Surveyor to assist with the application process. It is in fact the Land Surveyor who completes the application form and prepares the subdivision plan. Details of the applicant, the property, size allotment, use allotment and amenities for the property are requested. Where the applicant is not the owner of the property, an authorization letter must be obtained from the owner. Once completed the application form must be submitted along with the following documents: a certified copy of the original Registered Title for the property, Subdivision Plan, Surveyor’s Identification Report, Certificate of Valuation, Construction Drawings and Property Tax Certificate. Where the subdivision involves ten (10) or more lots an Environmental Permit as well as an Environmental Licence must also be obtained from the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (‘NRCA’). Registration fees are payable in full at the time of submitting the application and these fees vary from parish to parish.
After the application has been reviewed by the Parish Council, the documents will be forwarded to the National Environment Planning Agency (‘NEPA’) for assessment along with a site inspection report and recommendations from the Parish Council. NEPA’s Technical Branch will then process the application including research and conducting site visits if necessary. Once the application is assessed by NEPA’s Technical Branch, it is then circulated to a number of agencies such as the National Works Agency, National Water Commission, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Land and Environment. NEPA and the agencies will review the application at a Subdivision Committee Meeting and provide their comments on the subdivision plan (usually an approval or request for amendments). The subdivision plan must be accurately drawn to scale and should show the shape of the lots, area and lot numbers. The width of all existing and proposed roadways as well as access to existing public roadways must also be displayed. Where it is found that the subdivision plan has not been accurately prepared and is not in accordance with the Land Surveyors Act, the plan will be rejected.
Once the subdivision plan has been approved, draft conditions for the subdivision are sent to the Parish Council which will then prepare the final subdivision conditions to be approved by the applicant. The opportunity to have these conditions amended is usually given to the applicant at this time. The applicant must carefully peruse the draft conditions of approval before he agrees to same. Please note however, that where an applicant is not in agreement with any of the conditions he has the right to appeal such conditions. Once the draft conditions have been approved by the applicant and the Parish Council, the conditions are then signed off by the Ministry of Land and Environment. Subsequent to the Ministerial sign-off, subdivision approval is granted by the Parish Council.
Once subdivision approval has been granted and any relevant conditions are complied with, it is then possible to apply for individual titles from the National Land Agency (“NLA”). In order to apply for the individual titles from the NLA, the applicant will have to submit the following documents: the Subdivision Approval, the Duplicate Certificate of Title, a pre-checked plan depicting the lots in the subdivision and a Statutory Declaration by the Land Surveyor verifying the accuracy of the pre-checked plan. The applicant will, in due course, be notified of a deposited plan number which will be assigned to the pre-checked plan. An application form for surrender of the Duplicate Certificate of Title must then be completed and submitted to the NLA along with the requisite registration fees. These fees are assessed based on the market value for each individual lot. The application form must properly describe both the applicant and the property and state the value of the lots as well as the number of titles to be issued. The application will then be assessed and where the documents are found to be in order, NLA will process the application and issue individual titles for each lot in the name of the new owners.
As stated above, the subdivision application process can be complicated. It is therefore advisable to retain an experienced property lawyer to assist in the process thereby reducing costly and unnecessary delays which can negatively impact the subdivision and related transactions.