Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

To ensure that your interests are adequately handled, you might consider hiring an attorney-at-law. In any case, you should make sure that the seller of the house is able to transfer title to the property after the transaction is completed. After you’ve determined this, you’ll need to engage into a Sale Agreement. This agreement is generally prepared by the vendor’s attorney and signed by both the vendor and the purchaser. The purchaser is typically required to pay a 10% deposit to the vendor upon signature of the Agreement; the Agreement may also demand a further payment of at least 5% to assist the payment of Stamp Duty and Transfer Tax due on the transaction.

On completion, the rest of the purchase price is generally due.

To safeguard your interest, you should file a caveat against the title after you sign the contract. You should also consider insuring the property because, unless otherwise indicated, risk passes to you after the Agreement for Sale is completed and stamped.

This is not a good idea. You should hire your own attorney-at-law to whom you should submit the contract for sale, which is generally written by the vendor’s attorney, to prevent a conflict of interest. This is also to guarantee that your best interests are safeguarded at all times.

Transfer Tax is a 2% payment made to the Commissioner of Stamp Duty on the sale price or value of the property being transferred. The vendor pays the Transfer Tax, but the purchaser is responsible for paying it to the Commissioner and deducting it from the purchase price.

The Commissioner of Stamp Duty calculates Stamp Duty at a fixed rate of $5,000.00 or as otherwise stated by the Commissioner of Stamp Duty. Stamp Duty is generally split evenly between the buyer and the seller. Please keep in mind that a land transaction must be stamped within 30 days of signing to avoid penalties. Late stamping carries a significant penalty. If an Agreement for Sale isn’t stamped, it won’t be accepted as evidence in court if either the vendor or the buyer wants to enforce the contract.

For additional information, contact the Commissioner of Stamp Duty at 111 Harbour Street in Kingston.

Although there is no set commission, the industry rate is 5%.

The commission to be charged on the transaction is negotiable between dealers and their clients.

This is paid by the vendor, along with a 16.5 percent General Consumption Tax on the commission.

A caveat is a document filed with the Registrar of Titles by someone who claims ownership of land that has been registered under the Registration of Titles Act or the Registration (Strata Titles) Act. Its goal is to avoid any change in the proprietorship or any interactions with the property from being registered unless they are made subject to the purchaser’s interest. The Registrar of Titles can also file a caveat on his own. For additional information, contact the Registrar of Titles, 93 Hanover Street, Kingston, or your attorney-at-law.

An original and a duplicate Certificate of Title are issued for land that has been registered under the Registration of Titles Act. The original Certificate is filed in the Registrar of Titles’ Office, 93 Hanover Street, Kingston P.O., and the duplicate title is kept by the landowner. The Registration of Titles Act authoritatively establishes title by proclaiming that ownership is vested in a particular individual, subject to the encumbrances indicated on the title, under a promise of indemnification.

Common Law Titles: When land is not registered under the Registration of Titles Act, it is known as a common law title. Possession and/or documents are used to establish ownership. In contrast to a registered title, the owner of land subject to a common law title must show his right of title to a prospective purchaser by an instrument or facts proving ownership. A new conveyance must be completed and documented at the Registrar General Department, Central Village, Spanish Town P.O., within three months following the transfer of property subject to a common law title. Third parties are notified of the purchaser’s ownership through the recording process.

Costs involved by a purchaser on a transfer of property amount to approximately 3.25% of purchase price, plus GCT on the Attoney’s fees broken down as follows:

  • Stamp Duty of approximately Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) (shared by purchaser and vendor equally);
  • Registration fee of approximately 0.5% of the purchase price (also shared by the purchaser and vendor equally) payable to the Registrar of Titles, 23 1/2 Charles StreetKingston.
  • Recording fee if unregistered land, a nominal sum;
  • Legal fees for acting for a purchaser in the transfer of a Title range from 2% to 3% of the purchase price, exclusive of General Consumption Tax of 16.5%. Please note that each party has to pay his own attorney’s fees for the transfer;
  • Additional legal fees are often incurred in respect of the preparation of the Agreement for Saleand preparation of the requisite TR 1 Forms (to effect change of ownership on the Tax roll), letters to the utility companies, and letter of possession.

Please note the Transfer tax of 2% of the market value of the property is borne by the vendor.  

You should retain the services of an attorney-at-law to review any vendor-prepared Agreement for Sale. In any case, a potential buyer should always undertake the following before acquiring any property:

Determine whether or whether the appropriate Municipal Corporation has approved the subdivision of the land, as well as the date of permission;
Obtain the land’s Surveyor’s Identification Report. This is done to see if the land boundaries on the ground match the land stated in the Registered Title. If any restrictive covenants have been broken, the report should indicate so.
Obtain a professional land appraiser’s valuation report. This is done to see if the price you’re paying for the land is fair.

According to estimates, over 55 percent of land in Jamaica is unregistered, therefore your predicament is not unusual. To begin, contact the Registrar General Department, Central Village, Spanish Town P.O., to see if a common law title for your property has been recorded there.

You may register the land yourself, but you should carefully consider hiring an attorney. To obtain a Registered Title, you’ll need to do the following:

Obtain a survey of the property from a Commissioned Land Surveyor, who will create a survey diagram that he must transmit to the Survey Department, 23 1/2 Charles Street, Kingston, where it will be reviewed and authorised;

Complete an application form for land registration under the Registration of Titles Act, which may be obtained from the Registrar of Titles, 23 1/2 Charles Street, Kingston, and have it stamped at the Kingston Stamp Office, 111 Harbour Street;

Obtain a Statutory Declaration stating that you are the landowner;

Obtain two supporting affidavits from those who have been aware of the land’s existence for at least 13 years;

Obtain other supporting papers acceptable to the Registrar of Titles that can demonstrate ownership history, such as Purchase Receipts, Common Law Titles, and probated Will Tax receipts;

Obtain a valid Tax Payment Certificate.

Question about renting

If you are a tenant who is unable to pay your rent, it is your responsibility to contact your landlord and make the required arrangements.
Landlords can’t sue for rent unless it’s been unpaid for 30 days.
If a tenant fails to pay their utility bills, the landlord has the right to sue them for the unpaid balance.

A person shall not, as a condition of grant, renewal, or continuance, of a tenancy under a lease, or a renewal or continuous of a lease, for a term of twenty-five years or more, require the payments, or any like sum, or the giving of any consideration in addition to the rent, and where any such payment or consideration shall be paid after the commencement of this act, the amount or value thereof shall be recoverable by the person by whom it was made or given or his personal representative.

Tenant harassment is prohibited by Section 27 of the Act, which defines harassment as “anything that interferes with the tranquil enjoyment of the premises.” Changes in door locks, barring doors, removing windows, blocking entrances, disconnecting or interfering with utilities, and asking for favours, particularly sexual favours, are all considered harassment.

With the authorization of the Rent Board, landlords are authorised to increase rent by 7% every year. A landlord must go to the Board if he or she seeks a raise of more than 7 1/2 percent. The Rent Board is highly flexible and will take into account higher property tax rates, renovations to the property, and other factors. The renter is entitled to a return if the rent is increased in an unreasonable or unlawful manner.

Do you know your rights as a tenant or a landlord? According to the Rent Restriction Act, all rented properties must be registered with the Rent Board for assessment.

It is not true that houses constructed after 1980 are immune from the Rent Board’s jurisdiction.

If owners acquire an Exemption Certificate from the Rent Board, commercial properties developed after 1980 can be exempted from the Rent Board’s authority.

Any sub-tenant to whom the premises or any part thereof has been sub-let, either with the landlord’s consent or in accordance with the express authority conferred by or under the tenancy agreement or lease, shall be deemed to become the landlord’s tenant on the same terms as if the tenancy had continued, subject to the provisions of the law.

Landlords and tenants must serve quit notices for legitimate grounds. The notice must be given at least 30 days prior to the rent due date.

If a landlord gives a tenant notice to vacate for rent arrears and the tenant pays before the notice’s expiration date, the notice is no longer legal. The landlord cannot use any sort of harassment to evict the tenant if the notice has expired and the tenant has not paid and is still on the premises. He’ll have to go to court to evict the tenant. The judge will then issue the tenant a deadline by which he or she must vacate the property.

The renter may apply to the court for an extension up to two weeks before the lease expires, or seek help from the Legal Aid Clinic at 131 Tower Street in Kingston.

Tenants should not wait until their lease expires to seek an extension from the court. After the expiration date has past, the landlord can go to the bailiff’s office, pay the fines, and have the renter evicted from the property.

Landlords and tenants, on the other hand, should endeavour to resolve disagreements amicably. A staff of good listeners can be found at the Rent Board. They promise to offer justice to all, despite the fact that they will not be able to please everyone.

Tenants should be aware that even if they have been given notice to evacuate, they must continue to pay rent until the premises are gone.

If the rent is not paid, they will be in arrears and may be sued to reclaim the money.

Returning Residents & Home ownership

  • Attorney fees are recommended by the Jamaican Bar Association, whereas stamp duties and registration costs are established by the government.
  • A supplementary fee will be charged by the purchaser’s attorney for verifying and revising the transfer. (The transfer will be stamped and filed with the appropriate government bodies by the vendor’s attorney.)
  • The Commissioner of Transfer Taxes receives the transfer, and the Titles Office receives the registration fees.
  • The stamp duty, on the other hand, must be paid to the Stamp and Estates Duties Department.
  • If the government is the seller, the buying procedure could be sped up significantly if the buyer takes up some of the burden for any necessary subdivision. When the government is a party, stamp duty may be waived in some situations, and the government is not required to pay transfer tax.
  • One of the most serious issues facing returning residents is an erroneous view of their financial resources’ purchasing capacity.
  • When people decide to relocate to the island, they frequently seek out the largest and most opulent homes, which are sometimes priced much above their means.
  • Returning residents should research the pricing of real estate in Jamaica.
    It’s also a good idea to learn some basic construction jargon.
  • Most local realtors advise returning residents to buy a house rather than buy land on which to build one.
  • Construction projects on the island frequently fall behind schedule. The person(s) purchasing the property is invariably the one(s) who bears the brunt of the costs associated with production time overruns. The construction route is especially unwise if the owner will be away from home for an extended period of time.
  • It is preferable that the person who is building the house be present on the island in order to communicate with the construction specialists and to be on site to guarantee that production targets are met.
  • A transfer must be completed after the sale to formally register the new owner of the property. The vendor’s attorney will create documentation to start the transfer process under this agreement.
  • The vendor is responsible for all incidental and essential aspects of the transfer (such as sub-division approval). Both the vendor and the purchaser are responsible for the cost of the attorney’s preparation of the sale agreement, as well as the stamp and registration fees associated with the transfer.
  • If the transaction involves a lease, the lessee should make certain that the leased property is duly registered on title.
  • This will incur costs for registration, stamp duties, and other legal fees, but it will provide security of tenure in the sense that if the property’s original owner sells it, the new owner must sell it with the lease agreement attached, ensuring that the leasee is retained. The lease could be purchased by the property owner from the leasee as an alternative. Please note that before signing a Lease Agreement, buyers should speak with an attorney.
  • If the lease is not officially registered on the property’s title, the new owner may not be obligated to follow the terms of the lease. A sale/lease agreement does not distinguish between a house and land; it covers all land, regardless of whether or not a house is on it.
  • If you decide to cancel a property acquisition after pursuing it, you may still be liable for legal fees.
  • The vendor is responsible for all incidental and essential aspects of the transfer (such as sub-division approval). The vendor and the purchaser may split the expense of the attorney’s fees for preparing the sale agreement, as well as the stamp and registration fees associated with the transfer.
  • To acquire legal guidance on property acquisition, it is advisable to engage an attorney.
  • If you want to buy land owned by the Jamaican government, you must first make an application to the relevant State Agency.
  • You may propose terms for the purchase of such land, but the Government Agency has the right to set its own rules for land disposal.

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