Real Property Searches

November 1, 2012
Real Property Searches

In Mexico’s legal system, a general principal exists that holds that an important purpose of public registries is toprovide public notice of the legal acts recorded therein, so that such acts may be considered effective as to thirdparties and to provide certainty as to the date the acts were recorded. Note, however, that recordation by itselfdoes not create ownership rights for property owners. When conducting a legal inspection of a proposed realestate project, it is necessary to define the aspects that should be reviewed, which include recordation issues thatmay relate to the real property in question, and thus result in a need to consider various issues. First, the scope ofprivate ownership in Mexico should be considered keeping in mind regulatory guidelines applicable to the use ofsubsurface rights and air space that is subject to special laws. Therefore, the use of such areas does not by rightbelong to the real property owner, which may result in encumbrances on a property’s use and enjoyment.Metaphorically speaking, it can be said that if real property were an apple, the owner of such would have titleonly to the skin, and the authority to carry out construction on such skin would be subject to the limitationscontained in Mexican property law, including local regulations. This means that ownership of subsurfacematerials, such as minerals, petroleum and water belong to Mexico, and are regulated by special laws such as theMining Law and National Water Law, which means that the use of such requires governmental approval. This isclear except in the case of petroleum, which is reserved to the Mexican federal government. Furthermore, anotheraspect to consider is the variety that exists with respect to specialized public registries in areas that may limitownership rights, such as: (i) The Public Registry of Property (state or municipal) corresponding to the locationof the real property, for the various legal acts that are recorded in such registries; (ii) the Public Registry ofFederal Property, with respect to aspects related to the possible overlap with federally owned properties; (iii) thePublic Registry of Mining, related to authorizations granted to use of the subsoil; (iv) the Public Registry ofWater Rights, with respect to federal land zones and related authorizations; (v) the National Agrarian Registry,with respect to the origin of an ejido property (communal land) or possible overlaps with ejidos and indigenouscommunities; and (v) the Mexican Aeronautical Registry, with respect to airports and height limitations forconstruction due to the proximity to airports; among other registries and matters for review. In Mexico, there isno public registry that consolidates the information of all registries that could possibly affect real estate projects,nor are there common standards on how to maintain such registrations. As a result, it is necessary to evaluateeach project separately and determine which searches need to be conducted.

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