Telecommunications in times of covid-19: their impact on land registration

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COVID-19 has had an impact on people’s daily lives, on the way they interact with each other, and it has inevitably had an influence on law, which has had to adapt through technology. Online hearings through platforms such as “Zoom” or “Google Meet”, electronic mailbox notifications, and the gradual digitalization of court and administrative records are examples of the use of telecommunications technology applied to law. These developments in telecommunications were not alien to Land Registration, as discussed below.

In Peru, the “National Public Registries System” consists of four records: The Registry of Natural Persons, the Registry of Legal Entities, the Registry of Persons, and the Registry of Real Estate Property. The National Superintendence of Public Registries (SUNARP, by its Spanish initials) is an autonomous decentralized agency and the governing body of the “National Public Registries System”; therefore, it is tasked with operating all four registries in Peru.

The Registry of Real Estate Property includes the Registry of Properties, among others, and in said registry an entry is issued for each property, in which all recordings are arranged by item and entered, by means of the real estate folio technique. For every document or right a separate registry entry is issued; for example, each plot, house, apartment, etc. that is registered in Peru carries a registry entry in which all the contracts creating, declaring, transferring, terminating, modifying, encumbering or limiting rights in rem are recorded.

When a copy of a property registry entry is obtained and reviewed, one can determine the ownership of the property by a natural or a legal person, the existence of liens or encumbrances, the areas and boundaries of the property, etc.; therefore, access to such entries is vital in the real estate field when deciding to purchase a property.

Since mid-2020, in the context of COVID-19, SUNARP has issued rules and directives that seek to facilitate access by citizens through technology to “official information” provided by the “National Public Registries System”, and to this end, it expanded and optimized the so-called “Online Registry Information Service”, an online platform available on the SUNARP website and the SUNARP mobile application, allowing the issuance of registry certificates and other documents without the person needing to visit a registry office, since he or she will be able to process, pay and obtain documents from home or the office or anywhere in the world.

To date, SUNARP has implemented twenty-two services that may be requested from the “Online Registry Information Service”, as well as services every lawyer engaged in the real estate business is required to review to ensure proper property purchase, and they may now be provided online, including the “Real Estate Registry Certificate (CRI, by its Spanish initials)”, the “Land Registry Search Certificate”, the “Verbatim Certificates of registry entries in the registry of properties, legal entities and natural persons”, the “Certificates of Valid Power of Attorney”, the “Certificate of non-existing properties”, the “Certificate of liens and encumbrances of the registry of properties”, among others.

Another development by SUNARP in the use of telecommunications include online interviews with a land registry expert and the registrar during deed validation. Online interviews facilitate meetings since they do not require travelling to the registry office, which was often challenging given the time required to arrange and attend a meeting.

For those who are engaged in the real estate business, the expansion or optimization of the services provided through SUNARP’s “Online Registry Information Service” is useful, and it should be maintained over time and further expanded. We trust that SUNARP will continue to digitalize many more information services for the benefit of all citizens.

Article written by Javier Apaza, associate member of our Infrastructure and Real Estate area.

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