Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rights of Possession Explained

Here is an article sent to me by Don King, a Realtor in Bocas, who has 3 acres (front one is on the beach) for sale down at the end of Red Frog Beach for $299,000 (no improvements). He was kind enough to send me a link to an article that explains the very confusing rights of possession laws in Panama.

The article is about 1/3 of the way down the page AFTER the vegan article!

Here is an excerpt:

If you contemplate buying land in Panama, you should know about a unique feature of land ownership here know as “Rights of Possession”. There are in fact three types of “ownership”. There is titled land which is registered in the Public Registry. There is land owned by the Government and there is land for which, by virtue of having occupied it, a person has earned the “right to posses” it.

The history of this goes back to land reform which was instituted by Gen Omar Torrijos whose military dictatorship from 1968 to 1981 brought a number of social reforms. He introduced an agrarian land reform program which in essence stipulated “if you live on the land and work the land you have the right to possess it.

Rights of Possession are duly recorded and can be transferred to a third party including foreigners but it is the Ministry of Agriculture Agrarian Reform Offices, not the Public Registry, which records Rights of Possession on agricultural lands. The Directorate General of the Surveyor of the Ministry of Economy and Finance records island, beachfront and marine properties. The rest of the ROP's are not recorded.

There are two kinds of Rights of Possession:Those located in national lands subject to the jurisdiction of the Directorate General of the Surveyor of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. This type of ROP segregates into those subject to titled and those subject to an administrative concession (lease). The Rights of Possession subject to an administrative concession are beachfront, marine bottom and islands. Concessions are explained below.

Those located in agricultural land which have been allocated and transferred to the Department of the Agrarian Reform of the Ministry of Agriculture for the specific purposes to grant titles for agricultural use.

When it comes to trying to find out who possesses what the process can be tedious. An administrative system exists for the documentation and certification of ROP land. Employees of the regional offices of the Agrarian Reform, local Mayor's office, property tax office (Catastro), and justices of the peace (Corregidor) oversee and manage this system of documentation.

Mick @ Lot 83


Elizabeth Noble said...

I bought Lot 68 in the Turtle Beach area and I assume that is untitled. How do I found out who owns it?
Thank you.
E. Noble

Mick @ Lot 83 said...


Rights of possession land is still owned by individuals or corporations, it is just not titled. For example, we bought a contract to build a villa on a beach front rights of possession lot 83.

Pillar owns the lot until they sign it over to us which is happening this week. We will own the lot as a rights of possession property.

My guess is lot 68 is the same way. You should check with Dan Cranney if you have any questions.

Mick @ 83