Explained: Cadastral Affairs

Cadastral Affairs is the official body tasked with documenting property and any changes to its status. No real estate document is considered completely valid unless it has been entered into the Cadastral Affairs’ records.

The General Directorate of Cadastral Affairs was established in 1947, under Law No. 81, and remained affiliated with the Ministry of Justice until 1959, when it became part of the Ministry of Agricultural Reform. Under Local Administration Law No. 7 of 2010, the directorate was transferred to the Ministry of Local Administration. It was then divided into 14 sub-directorates for each governorate, as well as 48 departments in different regions of Syria and 124 real estate documentation offices.

To document ownership, Cadastral Affairs use the Land Registry first set up by the French Mandate in 1926 under Decrees No. 188 and No. 189. The registry follows a strictly controlled system of recording real estate changes that requires extensive documentation both to register and publicise such changes. This system can identify a specific real estate property by its number, no matter the name of the owner. In this sense, the land registry can be described as a set of documents that provide descriptions of each property, its status and the transactions and amendments attached to it.

The land registry also features a Land Record for each property that includes its number, area and description, type, the rights attached to it, the owners’ names, and their shares. Each property is composed of 2,400 shares. The land record also lists any seizure, mortgage, usufruct, or easement right attached to the property or its owners. This is in addition to the date and judicial decree that created that property’s land record, or the original property number from which the paper was first made.

Components of the land registry

The land registry is in fact composed of a number of complementary and supplementary registries, most important of which are the ownership registry book, the journal book, the delimitation and census records, and the survey maps.

The ownership registry book is the main record entry. It contains a summary of the information contained in the other complementary records. The journal book is a complement to the registry book and includes a record of requests that have been made to register incidents, organised by date and type. Incidents are listed by serial number within the journal’s 200 pages. A judge of the courts of first instance marks each page listing an incident with the correction written in red ink and an original signature.

Delimitation is part of an official process for determining the boundaries of a real estate property in the presence of a judge. The borders of the property are marked with clear and prominent signs on site. The census part of the process includes creating a document that lists the property type and opens a special real estate registry for that property within the land registry.

Survey maps define the legal and geographic status of real estate properties. They constitute a survey reference for certain properties and define their boundaries.