The current PRC real estate registration system is very scattered and vested in different authorities. At present, the Ministry of Land and Resources is in charge of registration of land use right certificates while the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development is in charge of registration of real property ownership certificate. This will create overlaps, omissions and sometimes contradiction in the registration practice. The scattered registration system usually requires the right holder to go through different governmental authorities for inquiries and changes in ownership items. This is time-consuming and lacks efficiency.
On 24 November 2014, the PRC State Council promulgated the Interim Regulations on Real Estate Registration (the “Interim Regulations”). They will take effect on 1 March 2015. The issuance of the Interim Regulations aims at substantially changing the current PRC real estate registration system through the following uniform systems:
- one uniform real estate registration authority;
- one uniform real estate register;
- one uniform basic platform for real estate registration information management.
We highlight below the most significant changes introduced by the Interim Regulations:
- One uniform registration authority The local People's Government at or above county level shall designate one department as registration authority for all real estate located in its administrative region. This department shall be supervised by the competent real estate registration authority of the People's Government at higher level. Currently several provinces in China, e.g. Jiangsu and Sichuan Provinces, have already established such uniform real estate registration authorities.
- One uniform real estate registerThe real estate registration authority shall establish a uniform real estate register in accordance with the provisions of the competent department of land and resources of the PRC State Council. The following items shall be recorded in the real estate register: • location, boundary, area and purpose of real estate;
• ownership conditions of real estate, such as right holder, type, content, source, duration and changes of rights;
• items concerning the limitation of rights of real estate; and
• other related items. The uniform real estate register is expected to reduce or eliminate overlaps, omissions and contradictions in the registration practice.
- One uniform real estate registration information management The information registered by the real estate registration authority at all levels shall be incorporated into a uniform basic platform for real estate registration information management (the “Online Uniform Registration Information Platform”). This shall ensure the real-time sharing of registration information at the national, provincial, municipal and county level. In practice, it will become much easier to access and check real estate ownership information. Any right holder or interested party may apply for inquiring about or copying real estate registration materials in accordance with the law. The registration authority shall not refuse such application. Currently, for checking real estate ownership information, the right holder or interested party has to actually visit the real estate registration authority where the real property is located. After establishment of the Online Uniform Registration Information Platform, it is e.g. possible for the right holder or interested party in Shanghai to check online real estate located in Beijing.
Most parts of the Interim Regulations are general provisions, which will need further clarification by implementing rules. Nevertheless, the Interim Regulations are an important step forward to streamline the real estate registration system in China and to make it more transparent and more easily accessible.