Promoting secure land transactions in Haiti

Rebuilding Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake remains a complex challenge. It has required the long-term commitment and efforts of many stakeholders dedicated to transforming a country devastated by the disaster.

As early disaster recovery and reconstruction initiatives were implemented, long-standing issues related to land tenure began to emerge.  Up until that time, national land policies and enforceable legal systems for the registration, occupancy, ownership and transfer of land were unclear and not effective. Issues of secure tenure are prevalent and land issues including how to buy and sell property in Haiti legally were and continue to be a complex and often misunderstood.

The 2010 earthquake exacerbated Haiti’s land issues, hampering the country’s overall recovery and slowing formalized reconstruction.  To this day, land access, land reform and land systems remain intractable issues and continue to represent some of the biggest roadblocks to investing and rebuilding in Haiti.

In 2011, Habitat for Humanity in partnership with other interested entities chose to address head-on these issues by creating the Haiti Property Law Working Group. Initially composed of 24 legal and policy experts, donor agencies, businesses, nongovernmental organizations and representatives from the Haitian government, the group has grown continuously and has dedicated itself to clarifying and raising awareness of land issues and promoting the development of a secure land transaction system in Haiti.

To date, with more than 300 members, the Haiti Property Law Working Group has engaged a broad range of interested professionals, government actors and stakeholders and created tools and undertaken training to address a range of property law issues.  Specifically, the Group has researched, developed and published two manuals and related training materials and has continued to add new members and meet regularly since 2011.  The stakeholder engagement process has been a cornerstone of the Group’s approach to developing the manuals, and ensures not only the accuracy of the work but also the buy-in of key government entities and professional groups in Haiti.

The first manual developed by the Group is entitled “How-to Guide for the Legal Sale of Property in Haiti” and is the first in a series of “The Haiti Land Transaction Manuals”.  The manual explains step-by-step the processes for buying and selling land in Haiti legally to establish and to be able to maintain clear ownership. Published in 2012, and reprinted four times, the manual helps Haitians, NGOs and international investors navigate the complex customary and formal legal systems to be able to buy and sell property legally — a critical first step to permanent reconstruction.

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The 2010 earthquake exacerbated Haiti’s land issues, hampering the country’s overall recovery and slowing formalized reconstruction.

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To date, with more than 300 members, the Haiti Property Law Working Group has engaged a broad range of interested professionals, government actors and stakeholders and created tools and undertaken training to address a range of property law issues.