Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Updating Deeds and Titles

Try to imagine a country in which nothing is legally surveyed.  Farmland, individual small plots, housing lots, nothing.  That was the status of Ukraine post break-up of the Soviet Union.  No cadastre system.  So how does one return anything to private ownership when there is no legal description that will stand up in court?  With great difficulty and expense and over a period of time.

Farmland is an issue I won't deal with, as I don't know enough of the history; just that there have been a great many projects and a great deal of money involved in bringing it up to international standards.  I will deal with housing as we are just beginning to go through it ourselves.

First off, in the late 80s, when Tanya decided to build in the village of Mar'yanivka (I spell it Marianivka too), which is our actual address, not Zhovti Vody, she went to the village council and was assigned the lot on which our house stands.  It is 25 meters wide and 40 or possibly 60 meters deep with an extra 35 meters behind which we rent for  our kitchen garden; we never measured it and there are two drawings which do not appear to be to scale.  She has clear title to the house but no title to the land because there has been no legal description to date.

We are now in process of getting our lot surveyed and getting a deed drawn up by  the village council.  We took all our documents to them yesterday.  The village office and post office are 5 km from here on the other side of the Zhovti (Yellow) river.  I have never driven past there so have no idea how much farther the village goes.  They tend to be very long and very narrow on one or both sides of a river or stream.

There is a company that does the survey work, using satellite.  The villager we buy milk from sits on the council and he said that once there are about 10 people ready, they will contract the survey company.  That way it is cheaper.  By the time we pay for the survey and all documents it will cost us about $500 (4000 UAH) which is a month's pay for someone in the city with a good job and an unheard of sum for poor villagers.

Once we have the land properly documented, then we will bring our house documents up to date.  We did some remodeling when we first moved in; tore out a couple walls and added an upstairs bathroom.  We need to have new scale drawings done and registered at the village office. Having done remodeling in Regina, it is not much different other than there we were supposed to get the permits first.
House and outbuildings.  NOT accurate or to scale, I think but gives you an idea. Outside dimensions look impressive.  Once you deduct 18" walls it is not so big inside.  Front faces more or less SE

9 comments:

  1. When I worked in Laos in the 1990s there was a big aid project underway which was providing the expertise and equipment to survey land so the Communist Government could begin drawing up official boundaries and issuing legal titles to traditional owners. Many Laotians were not happy about this, as they rightly suspected the next step would be that the Government would have available all the information to be able to start collecting land taxes from the now-official landowners.

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    1. I am hoping that this is the plan here too. There are a great many fabulous mansions that should have huge tax bills in a just world and a great many hovels that should have none. Tanya and I should be paying taxes on the value of our property. I would hope the taxes would go to local councils for roads and such but I know that is dreaming.
      How the value would be set and if there would be a minimum cut off and IF the rich would actually pay...all unknowns.

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  2. Don't feel bad. Some years after moving into my place (and we bought this place brand new) I contacted the county about the architectural drawings they had on file only to be told they lost them. Fortunately we still have the original boundary markers from the builder's survey and I still have the original paperwork.

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  3. Hmmm, I'm not sure I like the idea of that "retroactive permit" system. Do they have building codes there?

    If we submitted revisions after the fact, we'd likely get an order to rip out what we'd done and return it to original condition.

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    1. Demeur, you have given me the subject for tonight's blog post. Thank you.

      Diane, Near as I can figure, the only place they have any codes is related to gas. Our house could blow up but can't burn down, so the gas codes are VERY strict and MUST be followed.

      It isn't so much a retroactive permit as simply registering what we have done to the house, so "they" know.

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  4. Some of the old land deeds here in rural Maine contain language like: from the bend in the creek approximately 100 feet to the corner of the north fence, south to the large rock and west to the big elm, to be approximately thirty acres. The deed having been written some times in the late 1800's. Often on old farms the boundaries are what neighbors agree on.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Ol'Buzzard, those are the greatest land descriptions and I am sure that pre revolution that is what was used in Ukraine as there were a great many private farms though I am not sure of ownership title to land. There was also common land around villages and in many cases collectivized farming at the village level, though I need to learn more about that. Once the land was collectivized under the Soviet system, boundaries really didn't matter. they were what the government said they were and there was really no reason to argue as there was no private ownership though there was private use of individual small plots.

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  5. Really good post, Al. I look forward to future comments about farm land ownership. This is a question I always ask too when I am in villages, and have yet to receive a satisfactory answer. Either the responder (through the translator) does not grasp the nature of my question, or the translator does not understand the answer! The language barrier is a tough one, as I am sure you appreciate.

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    1. Initially when the collectives were reorganized, people who worked there or who had worked there were given title to X ha of land, no location or description. The bosses grabbed the best pieces and claimed them. I am not certain if the plots are all surveyed out and exact locations assigned or not; I know some are. Land can be owned and passed on generation to generation. It can be leased but not sold.

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