Protection of Property Rights

This information is derived from the State Department’s Office of Investment Affairs’ Investment Climate Statement. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to  – Last Published: 3/15/2018

Guyana has a dual registry system of property rights with distinct requirements, processes, and enforcement mechanisms.  The two types of registry systems are deeds (Deeds Registry) and title (Land Registry) registries that operate in separate jurisdictions, which in theory help to avoid the problem of double entry and dual registration.  Over all, Guyana’s property rights system is overly bureaucratic and complex, with regulations that are overlapping, competing, and nontransparent.  This affects the proper allocation, enforcement, and effectiveness of property rights, as well as the efficiency of all property-based markets, such as housing, land, commercial property, and financial markets (especially primary ones, such as mortgage markets).  The judicial system is generally perceived to be slow and ineffective in enforcing legal contracts.  The World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2017 says it takes 581 days to enforce such contracts.  Mortgage transactions in the Guyanese financial system are limited, and the term, as used locally, refers solely to consumer loans dedicated to the construction of a primary residence.

There are three types of land ownership in Guyana today:  a) public land, which is 85% made of what used to be known as state and government lands; b) Amerindian land, which is 14% comprised of lands held in common by indigenous communities (such lands are titled to the individual community); and, c) private land, which is about 1% land that can be transferred by either freehold or absolute grant.  A freehold transfer can be made either through a transport system or through a land registration system that is based on the Torrens type registry.  Absolute grants are used in cases in which agricultural land is being transferred for non-agricultural use.  In such cases, the land will first be transferred to the state, becoming public land, and is then titled to an individual.  Such grants require a presidential decree.

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