Land registration and lien data missing
Consumers seeking to purchase apartments and homes in Israel may face missing and incomplete property registration and incomplete lien records, according to an investigation by the state comptroller in the Haifa and central districts.
According to Israel Lands Administration records, it is unclear who owns 20,000 apartments and houses. The investigation, which relied on a scientific sampling, found no files at all for 3,800 properties.
The official property registry, or Tabu, does not record all the properties in Israel. Of the unlisted residences, about 500,000 are built on ILA lands. In most of these cases, ILA serves as an alternative to the registrar until they are officially recorded.
An examination of the districts with large concentrations of unrecorded properties - 110,000 are in the central district - revealed that the files for many properties cannot be found at all. In those cases, a property owner hoping to record a change of ownership must return to the registrar's offices in the hopes the file will be found. Until such time, no changes can be made in the listings such as a sale or the property's use as collateral for a loan or mortgage.
Although the problem is widespread, it is particularly pervasive in the central district. The comptroller found that most filing requests in the central district are not processed at all more than a month after submission, and about a third are not processed for more than three months.
Even after all the documents are located, the average processing time of record requests is two months. The lack of reliable records and a realistic time frame for receiving record updates makes it difficult for property sellers and buyers to set timetables for closing deals.
The ILA has discussed for some time improving the service to those who lease land and updating existing data. According to the comptroller's investigation, the data in the files and the data in the computer systems do not match in about 30 percent of cases. A 13-year upgrade project, in which NIS 14 million was invested, did not achieve its goals.
The investigation also revealed problems in ILA's recording of property liens. Due to the lag in recording loans and liens in ILA files, buyers seeking to verify the status of possible purchases are not guaranteed that all liens appear in the files.