Purchasing Dominican Government Real Estate

On September 27, 2016, the Dominican Republic (DR) Executive Branch issued Decree No. 268-16 creating the Evaluation Commission of Real State Lands Registered as Owned by the Sugar Mills belonging to the Dominican State Sugar Council or Consejo Estatal del Azucar (CEA).

The Decree recognizes the DR’s economic transformation, where Government lands originally dedicated to sugar production, farming or agriculture have been converted into urban, commercial and tourism properties, and Government central, autonomous and local institutions often compete for the benefits of using and selling property that may belong to them based on different interests.

According to Land Registration Law 108-05, the Dominican Government is the original owner of all real estate properties that constitute the Dominican Republic; and real estate properties registrable under the Dominican Government’s name, are those over which no one can prove a right over them. However, there is no title or deed issued to every piece of Government real estate property, as a national survey and inventory of all Government owned real estate assets is pending.

The purpose of Decree 268-16 is (a) to make an inventory of Government owned land; (b) to audit real estate transactions affecting Government lands; (c) to determine the best use of real estate owned or presumed owned by the Government in accordance with their nature and characteristics; (d) to make efficient surveys, amendments and update of plots of land that allow for the cleansing of lands and their ownership; and (e) to decide about their use by other Government institutions.

The Decree also seeks to protect Government property rights, and grant public access to titled real estate property through “trustworthy and quick” legal means, as part of public policy. As such, the Decree recognizes the lack of a clear and efficient property purchase and titling process, which is often discovered by investors who purchase property from Government institutions or from private sellers who purchased real estate originally owned by the Government.

In light of the above, how can you confidently buy Dominican real estate from Government institutions or private parties who originally purchased from the Dominican Government? How can you verify title if there is no title? Is there an explicit process across all Government institutions for purchasing real estate? The answer to these questions depends on each particular case.

While it is true that you can buy property from the Government by ensuring that you are buying a property with no previous owners or occupants, from an entity whose representative is empowered to sell by power of attorney from the Executive Branch and the sales contract is then approved by the Dominican Congress, getting title to real estate property through trustworthy and quick legal means will require a completed Government property survey and titling as well as clear contract validation and closing requirements enabling an easy real estate property transfer process.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Felipe Isa Castillo is a Partner, Head of International Business, Foreign Investment & Real Estate at ACLAW, a law Firm in the Dominican Republic. He specializes in international business, foreign investment and real estate law (International Legal Studies LLM in Georgetown University Law Center & Masters in International Business in Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Spain) with more than 20 years of experience in International Business and Trade, Foreign Investment, Free Trade Zones and Cross Border Real Estate practice. Dr. Felipe Castillo is also a Certified Bankruptcy Conciliator and Liquidator and Legal Interpreter.

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Copyright 2017 Arthur & Castillo | Dominican Law

Disclaimer: This publication is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.