Explained: Types of Real Estate Documents

Real estate documentation in Syria varies, along with their legal value. The following are the most important real estate documents, in descending order of legal value:

A title deed, also known as a “green tabu,” is an official document issued by the Directorate of Cadastral Affairs. It proves the ownership of an individual’s property, and is a copy of the Land Record that displays the rights and obligations attached to the property. The title deed contains the following information: plot number, real estate zone, surface area, description, legal type, the owner’s names and shares, and references to any lawsuits and seizures.

Under Article 825 of the Syrian Civil Code, real estate rights such as ownership are transferred and acquired through registration in the Land Registry. The title deed is a real-world application of Article 825, as it proves the transfer and registration of ownership in the owner’s name on the Land Record. However, the loss of this deed does not mean the loss of ownership. Rather, the owner may extract an alternative deed--in such cases, a real estate statement is sufficient to prove ownership.

A final court ruling proves the purchase of a property. This occurs when the buyer submits a claim to prove the sale of the property, and requests that a note mentioning the claim be entered into the Land Registry. The buyer is then given a ruling that proves the purchase of the property. Buyers may resort to this method for various reasons including when the real estate is not subdivided, there is difficulty in obtaining prior security approval or there are problems obtaining a construction permit, even if the land is ready for construction.

When the seller--the defendant--is present, he/she confirms before the judge that the sale is valid and that the payment was made. The judge then issues a ruling confirming the plaintiff’s purchase of the property, noting the plot number and the real estate zone. In order for the ruling to become final, the seller must forfeit his/her right to appeal it.

The importance of the final court ruling comes from the fact that it cannot be appealed. When the ruling is issued, an original copy is obtained to register in the Land Record.

Irrevocable power of attorney: with this document, the property owner sets up an irrevocable power of attorney with the notary public, which includes the seller’s authorisation for the buyer to transfer and vacate the property. Under Article 681 of the Civil Code, this power of attorney is considered a final, completed sale and may not be undone.

This document is official and may not be appealed. However, the process is not recorded in the Land Record and the buyer may fall victim to fraud, as there is nothing preventing the seller from selling the property again because it remains in their name in the record. In other words, the power of attorney does not transfer ownership in the Land Record to the name of the buyer. This is why it is necessary to include a note proving the sale in the Land Record, in order to protect the buyer’s right of ownership.

An ordinary sales contract is one of the weakest real estate documents, in terms of its legal value. It represents a commitment by the seller to transfer the ownership of a property to the buyer, but it is not a transfer of ownership per se. Under the Civil Code, a contract is defined as the congruence of two wills to establish an obligation or transfer.

One jurisprudence from the Court of Cassation stated that: “Real estate rights are not transferred between two contracting parties or to others by mere contract. The contract has no effect on the transfer of ownership until the date (the contract) is registered.” Ordinary sales contracts are often used in real estate zones not subjected to delimitation and census --that is, for properties that do not have Land Records. This method is also used in areas that feature informal construction. In these cases, the buyer must receive the property and occupy it in order to prevent any attempts at fraud resulting from the fact that the sale isn’t registered in the Land Record.