Trustworthiness of land records – The basis of Land Administration Systems

Trustworthiness of land records – The basis of Land Administration Systems


Jaap Zevenbergen
Jaap Zevenbergen
Associate Professor
Delft University of Technolgy The Netherlands
[email protected]

Projects to improving tenure security – assuring and protecting rights people have in land- often have a rather narrow focus, for instance mainly on technical aspects or registry functions.

To really improve tenure security it is necessary to use a systems approach that looks at the identified system, and looks at that system from the perspective of a number of aspects (legal, technical, economic).

Such a system encompasses at least both the cadastral and land registration functions, takes into account all institutions involved (both state organizations and private practitioners). The system should also encompass both the starting up (or major revision) of a system, as well as its continuous updating from thereon.

If the right land administration system is defined, it will show ’emergent properties’, in this case ‘trustworthiness’; the fact that people can and will rely on and contribute to the system.

Introduction and definitions
Land administration can be described as “the process whereby land and information about land are efficiently managed.” (MOLA 1996). Land administration deals with the ownership, use and value of land. Land registration and cadastre are important components of land administration. Although different countries and experts have different opinions, the following descriptions and strong relation between them are generally accepted:

land registration is a process of official recording of rights in land through deeds or title (on properties). It means that there is an official record (the land register) of rights on land or of deeds concerning changes in the legal situation of defined units of land. It gives an answer to the question “who” and “how”.

cadastre is a methodically arranged public inventory of data concerning properties within a certain country or district, based on a survey of their boundaries. Such properties are systematically identified by means of some separate designation. The outlines or boundaries of the property and the parcel identifier are normally shown on large scale maps which, together with registers, may show for each separate property the nature, size, value and legal rights associated with the parcel. It gives an answer to the questions “where” and “how much”. (Henssen/Williamson 1990: 20).

Due to the strong relation between land registration and cadastre, it is treated as one integrated system in more and more publications. This system is called by different names, like cadastral system (Silva and Stubkjær, 2002: 410; Bogaerts and Zevenbergen 2001: 327) , system of land registration (Zevenbergen 2002, 2004) and -as we do here- land administration system. Such systems should never be seen as an aim in themselves, and one should always keep the goals of it in mind. These could be manifold and include supplying tenure security (both for social and/or economic reasons); facilitating, monitoring and/or controlling of transactions on the land market; and forming a base for the levying of land tax. The exact functional objectives of the system differ between countries and are partly hidden in historical developments (compare Stubkjaer 2002).

Models of systems