The Hayek Group Newsletters and Reports

Land Registry Scandals in Lebanon

The #Real_Estate_Directorate or #Land_Registry_Secretariat in #Lebanon has been shut down due to widespread #corruption. Since the beginning of 2022, it has taken an average of seven to eight months to register a sales agreement, a process that should take only 20 days. A public sector #strike is currently taking place until January 27, 2023, to protest the conditions within the real estate directorates and all the rest of the sector.

On November 30, 2022, and based on the demand of the Public Prosecutor in Mount Lebanon, Judge #Samer_Lishaa, the #Information_Division of the #Internal_Security _Forces suspended major public officers, the situation has become dire, with more than 70% of the officers in custody due to corruption and the rest have fled. Honorable Lishaa gave his order to the #Information_Division, whose investigators entered the real estate office in civilian clothes for several days to investigate. Judicial sources expect that “things are still in their infancy,” counting on the judiciary and the information in the file to go to the end.

All official papers and documents are being held by state security, and there is currently no #electricity, making it impossible to use computers since the system is shut down. This has led to severe congestion of operations and an inability to receive new title deeds and even simple official documents.

Requesting a real estate #affidavit, for example, which is one of the simplest transactions, cost 20,000 LBP before the #crisis, while it currently ranges between 1million and 2 million LBP. The expected tax increase due to #currency conversion from 8,000 LBP/$ to 15,000 LBP/$ by end of January 2023 has only added to the confusion and corruption. On one particularly egregious example, 306 plots belonging to a party leader in #Chouf were transferred to his son at an exceptional midnight shift.

2.jpgUnfortunately, this #corruption is limited to the #Real_Estate_Directorates in #Mount_Lebanon, where 75% of real estate transactions take place. The Directorate of #Maten, #Keserwan, and #Jbeil are also experiencing similar issues. It appears that the state is only focusing on addressing corruption in #Mount _Lebanon, leaving the rest of the country to be safe from accountability despite its corruption.

#Engineers and #lawyers have been forced to stand in long, humiliated lines for hours just to ask for their papers. The#Order_of_Engineers and #Beirut_Bar_Association or the #Syndicate_of_Lawyers in #Lebanon should join forces in the fight against the #corruption and inefficiency plaguing the Real Estate Directorate. This is not just a problem for the individuals working in the real estate industry, but for all citizens and foreign investors looking to invest in the property market #Lebanon.

Together, the #Order_of_Engineers and the #Syndicate_of_Lawyers have the power to exert pressure on the government to find a solution to these problems. They can organize #protests, #strikes, and other forms of civil complaints to bring attention to this issue and demand action from the government. They can also use their professional networks to raise awareness of the situation and call on other organizations and individuals to support their cause.

An alternative solution could be to establish a new body to handle real estate operations or to outsource the work to private credible entities with a good reputation to handle the registration of sales agreements, title deeds, and real estate operations in general. This will help to ease the burden on the current system, and also help to address the issue of corruption by introducing more #transparency and #accountability.

It's a difficult situation for property owners and foreign investors who want to invest in Lebanon. They are facing a lot of obstacles due to this corruption and the state's inability to take action. It's important for the government to take immediate steps to address this issue and restore the integrity of the Real Estate Directorate. Until then, it is likely that confusion and corruption will continue to plague the country's real estate market.

Abdallah Hayek P.E
Hayek Group
Jan 19, 2023

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