Tips on How to Detect Fake Land Titles in the Philippines

Land is one of the most valuable assets a person or an entity could have. It doesn’t depreciate and in most cases, its value appreciates over time. Business owners, who own land and building, can already avoid the cost or expense of renting their office or store space from a lessor. Also, having your own house and lot can save you from paying lease on apartments or condo units. Thus, when we don’t own one, we hope that one day we can have our own land with our name on the title as its legitimate owner and registrant. That is also why we work hard to earn enough money to acquire the real property of our dream.

When it comes to buying lands, we need to ensure that the certificates of title on these lands are genuine and not fake to assure that our hard-earned money will not be put into waste. Fortunately, the Land Registration Authority (LRA), the agency responsible for issuing decrees of registration and certificates of title and register documents in the Philippines, has published important information and tips to the public to protect them from fraudulent land dealers or sellers and real estate transactions. The following are guidelines on how to detect fake titles in the country.

Guidelines on how to detect fake titles

1.    Check if the initials, signatures, technical description, annotation and other component elements appearing on the front and at the back of the original are exactly the same as that appearing on the owner’s duplicate copy of the title.  Any variance is a ground for suspicion;

2.    Judicial Forms for titles are considered accountable forms.  A serial number is assigned to each judicial form.  The serial number to be used for the original copy is printer in rd and the serial number for the duplicate copy is in black.  The LRA distributes the judicial forms with serial number in consecutive order to the various Registries of Deeds.  Any certificate of title bearing a serial number which is not among the ones delivered to a particular registry is of doubtful authenticity;

3.    A number is assigned to each judicial form.  It is indicated on the upper left-hand corner of the form.  Example:  Judicial Form No. 109 is used for the original copy of the TCT which emanated from a decree of registration and Judicial Form No. 109-D is used for the title is not the proper form as indicated by the Judicial Form number, this should be investigated;

Immediately below the Judicial Form number is the year the form was printed or revised.  If, for instance, the judicial form on which the title was prepared bears a date previous to the time when such form was printed or revised, then this is a ground for suspicion;

4.    The owner’s duplicate copy of the title contains the words “Owner’s Duplicate Certificate” on the left side margin of the judicial form.  On the lower left corner of the form is affixed a red seal.  The seal should not blot or stain when wet;

5.    The last two digits of the title number should correspond with the page number of the registration book indicated on the upper right corner of the title.  Any variance should be investigated;

6.    A reconstituted transfer certificate of title is identified by the letters “RT” preceding the title number, while the reconstituted original certificate of title carries the letter “RO” before the title number;

7.    The Central Bank judicial form is printed on security paper which contains security features.  The paper is 50% cotton and 50% chemical wood pulp with artificially colored silk fibers.  It has a NALTDRA or LRA watermark which can be seen if held against the light.  Patently fake titles are usually printed in forms made of cartolina or some other material of inferior quality.

8.    Check if the Register of Deeds  who signed the title was the incumbent register of deeds at the time the title was issued;

9.    Check the entry of a related transaction in the Primary Entry Book to be certain that the title was issued on the basis of a duly registered document;

10. Check the Enumeration Book or logbook which contains information on the personnel assigned to prepare the title on a certain date and the serial number of the judicial form used;

11. Check the Releasing Book if there was a title of  such number that was released by the registry on that certain date;

12. Of necessary, trace the history of the title to determine the genuineness of its source.  This may entail going back to the mother title, the derivative titles and relevant documents.

13. If necessary, trace the history of the title to determine the genuineness of its source.  This may entail going back to the mother title, the derivative titles and relevant documents.

For more information, inquiries and the directory of LRA offices, please visit the LRA website or contact and visit the nearest LRA office in your area.

Source: Land Registration Authority (LRA) Philippine – Guidelines on How to Detect Fake Titles

Victorino Abrugar is a retired CPA practitioner, a blogger, speaker, and an entrepreneur. He's the CEO of Optixor, Inc., a digital marketing company based in the Philippines. Follow him on Twitter at @viclogic.