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How To Reconstitute Or Replace Lost/Destroyed Land Titles in the Philippines

Bad things happen, like land titles getting lost or destroyed. If this happened to you, then you need to learn how you can reconstitute or replace lost/destroyed titles and prevent yourself from being victimized by con artists. I’ll help you through this blogpost.

Actually, I have been thinking of the possible problems that may crop up due to the lost or destroyed land titles brought about by strong typhoons due to climate change (remember Typhoon Ondoy and Yolanda?).

And whenever situations like this arise, I’m pretty sure con-artists will take advantage of the situation to scam land owners and buyers of real estate.

Why do you need to protect your land titles?

Before we dive into how lost land titles can be reconstituted or replaced, let’s tackle why you should protect them in the first place.

Obviously, your property needs to have a title, if you are going to sell your property and proceed with the transfer of ownership.

If you think there is no urgency to get your lost title reconstituted or replaced if you have no plans of selling your property in the near future, think again.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there who can take advantage of the situation when a title is lost or destroyed. If you  are not paying attention, your property can end up being transferred to someone else’s name without your knowledge.

This in fact happened when the Registry of Deeds (RD) of Quezon City was razed by fire in 1988, and until now, there are many pending court cases brought about by con artists who took advantage of the situation.

In a situation where a registered owner lost his/her owner’s duplicate title, and due to termites, fire, floods, or any other event the original copy of the title in the RD was destroyed, it is really possible that bad elements will make fake titles and assert that they are the true owners.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so make sure all your land titles are safe and well protected, and this includes your copies of the owner’s duplicate certificate, and the original title with the respective RD’s.

How to protect your land titles from floods, fire, and natural disasters

When properties are mortgaged, the original owner’s duplicate certificate of titles are kept in a safe and secure place by the bank/lending institution. I suppose they put it in a fire-proof safe or vault that is in a flood-free area, so it’s safe to say they are safe and sound.

However, if your property is already fully-paid, you should already have the original owner’s duplicate certificate of the title, and it becomes your responsibility to keep it in a safe and secure place.

I suggest that you keep them in a safety deposit box (SDB) in a bank not too near your home (Jay say’s it’s like having an off-site backup). Since the bank has security guards, your important documents are more secure in the SDB. I think this is more cost-effective because you need not buy your own vault. Plus, you will have peace of mind in case your house gets affected by fire, floods, or get robbed or burglarized.

I suggest you choose an SDB which is in a high place, as I recall a case where documents stored in the SDB of a certain bank got wet because the SDB was near the floor and got flooded. Maybe you can also have a fire-safe and waterproof chest where you can put your documents before you put them in the SDB.

You might be asking, “How about the original titles that were in the hands of the Register of deeds, like those that got destroyed when the Quezon City RD burned down, is there a way to prevent the same thing from happening?”

The answer to this is yes, and this can be done by converting a physical land title into an “eTitle” through the Land Registration Authority’s Voluntary Title Standardization Program. According to LRA’s website,

“Registry copies of the titles are protected from loss or destruction due to age, wear and tear, fire, natural disasters, and misfiling of records, as the eTitles are stored in its electronic original form, which are regularly backed up. By availing of this program, eTitle owners may rest assured that their titles are always safe and available, and they need no longer go through the expensive and time consuming process of title reconstitution should a disaster hit the Registry”.

For a sample of the documents that need to be submitted if you would like to apply for an eTitle, click here.

Unfortunately, since this program is voluntary, there will surely be a lot of titles that have not been converted to eTitles, which means titles lost or destroyed when RD’s got hit by Yolanda will have to undergo reconstitution.

Reconstitution or replacement, what’s the difference?

If the original title with the registry of deeds got lost or destroyed, then reconstitution of the title would be necessary. This can be either through an administrative reconstitution (in case of a substantial loss of titles in the RD) or a judicial reconstitution (in case the RD copy of the title is lost or destroyed, but no administrative reconstitution is necessary as determined by the LRA).

For example, if the original copy of the title in the RD was destroyed by termites, your title needs to be reconstituted. For a short discussion on this example written by Atty. Persida Acosta, Chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), click here.

On the other hand, if only the owner’s duplicate certificate got lost/destroyed, and the copy at the register of deeds is intact, then the owner only needs to get a replacement for the lost duplicate certificate, through the procedure stated in Section 109 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree)

How to reconstitute land titles under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 26, as amended by R.A. 6732

Administrative reconstitution

Following the procedure under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 26, as amended by R.A. 6732, administrative reconstitution may be done in case there is substantial loss or destruction of land titles due to flood or other force majeure as determined by the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority (LRA). I have not read about any such declaration from the LRA, there’s no announcement on their website. I think also it’s because while some original titles have been lost, the number does not reach 10% of the total number of titles.

Flowchart: Administrative reconstitution

Source: Ombudsman’s website

Administrative reconstitution
Administrative reconstitution of titles. From ombudsman.gov.ph

Judicial reconstitution

In any case, for those whose titles got lost or destroyed in the Registry of Deeds, but no administrative reconstitution was determined to be necessary, they need to undergo judicial reconstitution of title.

Reconstitution of a title is very tedious and time-consuming. The whole process could take anywhere from six to nine months to complete. Sometimes, it even takes years. You have to prepare legal documents, secure certifications and clearances, and you need a legal counsel to represent you in court proceedings.

Mr. Raul J. Palabrica of the Inquirer has offered suggestions so that reconstitution could be done with the least time and effort, but to date, these remain as suggestions to be acted upon.

Flowchart: Judicial reconstitution of titles

Source: Ombudsman’s website

judicial reconstitution of titles
Judicial reconstitution of titles. From ombudsman.gov.ph

How to replace lost/destroyed land titles (owner’s duplicate certificates) under PD 1529

If you misplaced your owner’s duplicate certificates of title (but the original title is still with the Registry of Deeds), don’t feel too bad. Losing a title for no special reason except forgetfulness may be a bit embarrassing but it is not such an isolated occurrence (we all have our senior moments).

Section 109 of PD 1529 provides for the procedure in getting a new owner’s duplicate certificate as follows:

Section 109. Notice and replacement of lost duplicate certificate. In case of loss or theft of an owner’s duplicate certificate of title, due notice under oath shall be sent by the owner or by someone in his behalf to the Register of Deeds of the province or city where the land lies as soon as the loss or theft is discovered. If a duplicate certificate is lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced by a person applying for the entry of a new certificate to him or for the registration of any instrument, a sworn statement of the fact of such loss or destruction may be filed by the registered owner or other person in interest and registered.

Upon the petition of the registered owner or other person in interest, the court may, after notice and due hearing, direct the issuance of a new duplicate certificate, which shall contain a memorandum of the fact that it is issued in place of the lost duplicate certificate, but shall in all respects be entitled to like faith and credit as the original duplicate, and shall thereafter be regarded as such for all purposes of this decree.

Land titles lost/destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda/ Haiyan (November 2013)

When Super Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan hit Leyte last November 2013, it’s pretty obvious that many land titles were lost/destroyed.

In an article dated December 23, 2013, Reuters wrote that Leyte’s Registry of Deeds office faced the ocean and was thus pounded by seawater during Typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught. The accompanying picture painted a pitiful sight – RD employees were hanging original copies of titles on clotheslines with clothespins and waiting for them to dry.

Leyte RD by Romeo Ranoco, Reuters
Original copies of titles are hanged to dry on clotheslines with clothespins at the Leyte Registry of Deeds. Photo by Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Atty. Emeterio Villanoza, Palo, Leyte’s Registrar of Deeds,  was quoted as saying that as much as 2,000 land titles could have been lost in the floods, probably washed away in the nearby creek. These lost titles would require reconstitution.

On the other hand, owner’s duplicate certificates of titles that got lost/destroyed when homes got hit by the floods and the storm surge only need to be replaced, assuming that the original titles in the RD are intact and accounted for.

Prevention is better than cure

At the end of the day, it’s obviously better to prevent situations like lost land titles that can result in a long and tedious process of reconstitution or replacement, by taking simple steps to safeguard them. Based on our own experience, simply having a safety deposit box can make a world of a difference. Even though just about everything in our house got destroyed by Ondoy in 2009, all of our postdated checks from tenant-buyers, contracts, and other original copies of important documents like owner’s duplicate certificate of titles, were saved, which is proof that:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

                                                            ~ Benjamin Franklin

~

Cherry Vi M. Saldua-Castillo

Real Estate Broker, Lawyer, and CPA
PRC Real Estate Broker License No. 3187
PRC CPA License No. 0102054
Roll of Attorneys No. 55239

2013 Internal Education Head, REBAP-LMP

Text by Jay Castillo and Cherry Castillo. Copyright © 2008 – 2018 All rights reserved.

 

Photo by: Romeo Ranoco, Reuters from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/12/23/13/leyte-land-titles-lost-damaged-yolanda

Photo of author
About Atty. Cherry Vi Saldua Castillo
Atty. Cherry Vi Saldua Castillo is a Lawyer (Roll of Attorneys No. 55239), CPA (PRC CPA License No. 0102054), Real Estate Broker (PRC REB License No. 3187), and Real Estate Appraiser (PRC REA License No. 6918). She was also the 2013 Internal Education Head of REBAP-LMP and 2015 REBAP National Legal Counsel. She's the 2021 chapter president of REBAP-LMP.
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24 thoughts on “How To Reconstitute Or Replace Lost/Destroyed Land Titles in the Philippines”

  1. Hi Sir
    What if a title ended up in Sc as noted without action ,I was duped by my siblings an out of court settlement was done before a deal agreement that my siblings will not file an M.r for a civil case of our real property located in Mla,ww won at Rtc but loss at C.a then finally the plaintiff doesnt want to spend so much,instead the amicable agreed by them ,the case was nullity of tax sale the plaintiff 30 yrs ago made it illigally auction by the city hall knowledge until now im still in possession with my family still the transferred title has the lia pendens annotations at the back and tax dec is still on the name of my late grandfather ,he stopped harassing me and he can not file writ of wxecutionfr the lower court Is it because he didnt settle with me only on my siblings theae now already 5 yrs from the last notice of Supreme court 2017 year thanks so much for your advice

    Reply
  2. Hello mam Cherry, is it important or possible as well to know if a property has a pending case before buying it from owner? And how can I verify it?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Hi Ryan, I’ll answer on behalf of my wife Cherry. You can get a certified true copy of the title to check if a Lis Pendens is annotated. Another option (which is very tedious… you might want to hire someone to do the checking for you) would be to check the court records for the city/municipality where the property is located.

      Reply
  3. We have acquired a house & lot and had the title transferred to our names through the help of someone we know knowledgeable. After the title has been issued, we applied for a mortgage at a bank and the loan was approved after few months. Consequently, we are regularly paying for the amortization and estate taxes when suddenly after few years someone appeared at our doorsteps claiming that the house was loaned to them and that it hasn’t been paid for a long time. Not far from the time of incidence, we got a letter from the Registry of Deeds, Caloocan that our title has been confiscated due to spurious title, and the document has been forwarded to LRA for investigation. But after 10 years, no resolution or notice has been sent to us.

    The loan from the bank has been fully paid, we do not have a certificate of full payment and our title has not been returned to us. What should we do to recover our land title?

    Reply
    • Hi Bernardine, I’m so sorry to hear your situation. We’ve heard of horror stories where a property is mortgaged without the owner’s knowledge and it ends up in foreclosure. However, we have also heard of court cases where the foreclosure was nullified successfully. I believe you should pursue this through the courts, get the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in court cases similar to yours.

      Reply
      • Hello! Thanks for the response. But where could the “glitch” possibly have started? Could there be an “inside job” from the bank? Could there be someone from the RD itself who took a copy of our title? Or could the RD possibly made a spurious comment on our title by mistake?

        one more thing, How much does it usually cost to reconstitute a title through the service of a lawyer?

        Reply
        • An inside job is possible, there could be a syndicate that enticed someone from the bank, or even someone from the RD, or some would even dupe an unsuspecting person to apply for a loan for a property that is not theirs (they just forge the documents). This is based on what I’ve heard from others in the industry, and also from blog readers who have shared their stories.

          If I remember correctly, reconstitution would cost at least Php50K. 🙁

          Reply
  4. Hi,

    I have a property and I applied it for a mortgage in a bank.

    I have paid it on the bank and just got a receipt, due to I have an appointment already and I need to go abroad. I didn’t have enough time to fix the papers including the transfer of the title from the bank to my name again.

    There is a person who is helping me from here in the Philippines while I am still on abroad but then that person died. As we are looking for the original title which is still on the bank’s name, we found out that the bank was closed and the family members of the person who is helping us to transfer the title do not have the title of our land.

    Please tell me what exactly am I going to do to get the title of my land and transfer it to my name again.

    Thank you

    Reply
  5. The original land title copy was destroyed during the Fire of Quezon City’s city hall building on June 11, 1988. My mom has lost her certified true copy. What options do we have to get another certified true copy title? Are there any Philippine companies that specialize in this or can help acquiring reissuance/reconstitution of lost land titles?

    Reply
    • You can present the original owners duplicate copy of the title of your mom to the registry of deeds of QC for the administrative reconstitution. Please bring original/ certified true copy of the tax declaration, tax receipt and tax clearance.

      Reply
  6. Good day po sir jay! We have a lost title in the name of a corporation. We already submitted the board resolution, spa, affidavit of loss and other docs to the register of deeds to declare the lost title. May I know our next step to secure the replacement of our lost title? Thank you sir and hoping for your response.

    Reply
  7. do you need to hire a real estate lawyer to request for a certified copy of a lost title. If so, what is the common cost for that and how long is the process?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • You can secure a certified true copy of the title on your own. Bring a photocopy of the title and your id. If you are not the registered owner, bring the SPA.

      Reply
  8. My father who is an American Citizen, passed away in the Philippines a little over a week ago. He is not a dual citizen. One of the main reasons why he moved back to the Philippines, is that he wanted to transfer his name from the land that he owns in our province, to my sister and I is name. However, he was having some issues in doing so. Now that he has passed, names never got transferred. My late father is existing wife (2nd wife) may have the title of the land, but is not presenting that to us. Is it possible for me to or one of Dad’s siblings who is in P.I. right now, get a copy of the title in our province? I returned back home to the U.S. last week Friday. We just buried my Dad last week Wednesday. My Dad’s 4 sisters are still in P.I. but will also be returning in a few days to the U.S. Also, does my step-mom have a right to the land? Her name is not on it. It’s just my Dad’s name. I am thinking that since my step-mom is not wanting to give the title of the land, she might sell it. How do I go about the procedures in order for her not to do anything with my Dad’s land? There is no Will. She does reside in the Philippines now as well. I am needing some advice ASAP. I don’t want my step-mom to try to sell the land without any permission, since her name is not on it the title.

    Reply
  9. Pingback: How to reconstitute or replace lost/destroyed Land Titles
  10. Hi. It has been 2 months already since we asked the RD to issue a Certified True Copy of a land title for the purpose of settling the estate tax but the RD said that they cannot find their file copy of the title. What should we do? We asked them to provide an affidavit of lost so we can present it with the BIR but they don’t want to issue an affidavit as they will continue to look for it. Please advise. Thanks

    Reply
  11. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE OWNERS DUPLICATE COPY OF LAND TITLE IS LOST OR CANNOT BE LOCATE AND THE SAID TITLE HAS BEEN SOLD BY THE OWNER ALREADY BEFORE HE DIED..WHAT SHOULD I DO IN ORDER TO PROCESS THE TRANSFER OF TITLING TO NEW OWNER?THANK YOU

    Reply
    • Hi Myka, I believe the first thing you need to do is check the title with the Registry of Deeds. If it exists, then you need to get a replacement for the owners duplicate. By the way, was the estate tax settled?

      Reply
  12. Pingback: Our Top 10 Real Estate Investing Blog Posts For 2013
  13. The sad fact is, scammers do not need lost titles for them to do their dirty deeds. I’ll share how they do it one of these days.

    Reply
      • I’ve seen someone use a fake title that looks exactly the same as the original in the RD to dupe unsuspecting buyers, while the real owner has the original, but they are unaware someone else is posing as the owner. Some even use a fake deed of sale to convince would be buyers of their ownership, with the excuse that they have not yet transferred ownership and they can transfer directly to the unsuspecting buyer to save on taxes… a very elaborate way to scam people.

        Reply

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