14 ways to make sure your land title is not fake |
BlogFreshest property listings, latest news, and top real estate tips.

14 ways to make sure your land title is not fake

by Jillian CariolaPublished: January 15, 2014Updated: August 11, 2017

Suspicious about the authenticity of your property’s land title? There are ways to determine whether it’s real or fake.


Fake land title real estate fraud MyProperty Philippines

The problem of fake land titles has been an increasing concern in the Philippines over the years.  In 2016, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III announced that there was an estimate of 6,000 to 10,000 fake titles circulating in General Santos City alone. The issue came to light during a land dispute case of a 707-hectare government property to which five parties laid claim showing original certificates of title, all of which were later on proven to be fake.

More recently, it was revealed that nearly 30 percent of the declared Forest Land Grazing Lease Agreements (FLGLAs) of the 53,606 hectares total land area of General Santos City had spurious land titles, and are now facing long legal battles for cancellation and reversion.

To battle the ongoing problem, various government members are stepping up, including the Senate-led campaign against fake land titles. Also, Quezon City Representative Alfred Vargas III proposed a bill that will increase sanctions against individuals found guilty of falsifying land titles. Under Vargas’ proposed House Bill 6375, which seeks to amend Articles 171 and 172 of Act No. 3815, guilty parties will be given a penalty of either reclusion temporal (minimum jail term of 12 years and a fine of Php50,000) or life imprisonment depending on the severity of the offense committed. Congress has yet to address the proposed bill; the current sanction for said illegal acts are a six-month jail term and a fine of Php5,000.

In every real estate deal, you want to make sure the transaction is legal and will not cause you any future problems, so you work only with legitimate sellers and agents. Still, there are instances when the transaction has already taken place and the buyer does not know that he was scammed until he takes a close look at the title. If you recently bought a property, here are a number of ways to make sure that your deed, as well as your transaction, is valid.

1. Check with the Registry of Deeds if the original copy of the title certificate is filed with them.

2. Make sure that the copy you are holding is exactly the same as the original one filed with the Registry of Deeds, in that the owner’s duplicate copy should be a carbon copy of the original.

3. The signatures and initial on the original and the owner’s original duplicate copies should be exactly the same. The manner by which the entries were typed should also be the same, since any difference will be viewed as a discrepancy. This means any typographical errors and erasures must be the same as well.

4. The judicial form used to make the title should bear the same serial number as the one that was forwarded by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Land Management Bureau (LMB) or by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) or Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Officer (PENRO). Also, in the original copy of the title, the serial number is red, while a duplicate bears a black serial number.

5. The year indicated in the judicial form must be before the date when the title was issued, unless the title is reconstituted.

6. The signatory of the preceding and succeeding titles should also be the only person who executed and signed the other titles issued. This person should be the current Registry of Deed, DENR Secretary, RED/PENRO, or DAR official at the time of the signing in the province or city where the land is located.

7. Check the title number. The last two digits on the title should be the same as the page number of the registration book as seen on the upper right side.

8. Check with the Registry of Deeds and see if the contract of sale or conveyance was recorded in their entry book on the same time and date indicated in the title.

9. If a title is based on patents, make sure that the areas covered are well within the area provided by law as well as by existing regulation. The land under the patent should also be in the jurisdiction of the DENR and DAR field office that issued the patent. If not, the patent will be considered null and void.

10. Test the red seal and the red printed words “Owner’s Duplicate” by slightly wetting them. In an authentic form, the seal and the words will not blot or stain.

11. Hold the title up against the light and see if it has an NLTDRA (National Land Title and Deeds Registration Administration) or LRA (Land Registration Authority) watermark.

12. Feel the paper. Official judicial forms use paper that is 50% chemical wood pulp and 50% cotton, while fake titles are usually printed on cartolina or other inferior material. You should also be able to see fibers of the paper material used in the form.

13. Inspect the document’s design elements. A real title should possess a decorative border called an intaglio, a design that is etched or carved into the surface of the material. The paper should also have circular patterns called planchettes, which are said to serve a special purpose.

14. For e-titles, a computerized judicial form should have a judicial form number, a control number, a bar code, and a watermark security feature. Also, all entries should be computer encoded and printed, as opposed to typewritten as in the case of old versions.

A property investment is a very big (and costly) transaction, so make sure you safeguard yourself against people who might try to take advantage of you. Be extra careful in checking property titles, and report fraudulent dealings to the LRA and other related government offices. Understandably, you will still have doubts regarding your own judgment when checking the authenticity of the title, so it is always advisable to verify your title with offices like the LRA and the Registry of Deeds.



Main photo via Depositphotos

comments powered by Disqus


Get the freshest property listings, latest news, and top real estate tips delivered straight to your inbox!