1. Property Rights
1.1 Legal Protection
1.2 Registries
1.3 Formal Owndership
In-Country Assessment Information

1.  Property Rights – Strong

Goal – Property rights that are legally protected, secure, recorded in a single, accurate, widely accessible electronic registry and that lead to high levels of formal ownership for all citizens


1.1 Legal Protection

Core Question:         Does an effective and sufficient legal framework exist to protect property rights for all citizens? No – Weak – While there is a framework in the Constitution to protect the right of private property, scoring in multiple areas is weak.  Government expropriation powers, while restricted, are somewhat ill defined.


Legal Framework

1.1.1   Are property rights clearly defined and protected by law? No – Weak – Ranking 96th of 144 countries; Score of 3.80 – Trend↓


Security of Tenure

1.1.2   Can citizens challenge the legality of government takings? No – Weak – Ranking 89rd of 144 countries; Score of 3.32 – Trend 

Source: Global Competitiveness Index 2012-2013 – World Economic Forum


Bundle of Rights


Survey Question

SQ1    What is the bundle of rights (group of rights such as occupancy, use and the right to sell or lease) associated with both residential and commercial property ownership?

Strong – Article 58. Private property and the other rights acquired in accordance with civil laws may not be ignored or infringed upon by subsequent laws.

Legislative Decree 1 (1999) amended the national constitution prohibiting extrajudicial expropriation of private property.  It also calls for payment to the private landholder prior to expropriation.

Sources: Constitution of Colombia (1991), Article 58.

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1.2 Registries
Core Question:         Does a reliable property registry exist including cadastral, title and mortgage lien information? Yes – Strong, cadastral registry is currently available, the title registry doesn’t take a long time and cost much, while this country has a high level of notary involvement which add costs to the transaction.


1.2.1  Cadastral Information

Very Strong. Cadastral Information in Colombia is maintained by the IGAC, a division of the National Administrative Department of Statistics.  Additionally four separate cadastres exist; the Cadastre of Bogota, Cadastre of the Department of Antioquia, Cadastre of Santiago de Cali and Cadastre of Medellin. Zoning information is included in the regulation and GPS information is used to create and update the registry.

Survey Questions

SQ 2   Is cadastral information (information about the dimensions and location of land parcels) accessible to the public? Yes


SQ 3   Is zoning/permitted use information included are use regulations respected and enforced? Yes


SQ 4   Are Geographic Information Systems (GIS) including Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) information used to create and update the registry? Yes



Lincoln Institute of Land Policy,

International Comparative Legal Guides,



1.2.2  Title Registry

Strong – Current Year Rank 52nd Previous Year Rank 53rd Trend ­↑          What is the number of procedures required to register the transfer of a property from one owner to another? 7          What is the duration of time in calendar days that it would take to complete the transfer? 15          What is the total cost of the transfer including all fees, taxes, etc. expressed as a percentage of the value of the property? 2%

Source – Doing Business 2013– Registering Property, World Bank

1.2.3  Mortgage Registry

Status – Weak – Colombia has a high level of notary involvement. Title insurance is not available to lenders.

Survey Questions

SQ 5   The mandatory use of notaries or similar officials slows down and adds cost to the process. Does a notary need to be involved in the registration process? Yes


SQ 6   Is information in the registry available electronically? Yes


SQ 7   Title insurance is indemnity insurance against financial loss from defects in title and from the invalidity or unenforceability of mortgage liens. Is title insurance available to lenders? No


The Superintendency of Notary and Registry,

Issues in ownership of Real Estate in Colombia,

Latin Lawyer Reference Real Estate,



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1.3 Formal Ownership
Core Question:         Do citizens understand and trust property rights institutions and avoid the informal sector? Yes – Strong – although informal economy predominate in the country, private property rights are protected in both the Constitution and by Legislative Decree and formal home ownership keeps in a high level.


Survey Questions

1.3.1  Land

SQ 8   What is the status of land ownership?  Strong – Public access to cadastre information is available through IGAC and private land is registered through the Superintendency of Notary and Registry.

Sources: U.S. AID,

Ministry of Justice The Superintendency of Notary and Registry,


1.3.2  Home Ownership

SQ 9   What is the percentage of formal home ownership? Very Strong – formal home ownership is at 82.1%.

Sources: UN Habitat Website,

Ministry of housing city and territory, Colombia,

Urban Habitat,


1.3.3  Informal Sector

What is the percentage of services firms that report competing with unregistered or informal firms? 70.9% – Very Weak Formal Sector (2010)

Source: Enterprise Surveys,



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In-Country Assessment Information
Field Question (FQ) 1       What is the actual status of property rights and ownership for citizens?

The land ownership breakdown for the country is as follows: Urban – Private (81%), State (19%); Rural – Private (52%), Indigenous Peoples (23%), State (22%), Afro-Colombian Peoples (3%).  Acquiring land through adverse possession is a fairly common practice in Colombia and relatively easy.


FQ 2   What is the actual experience of transferring a property?

All transfers of title on real estate as well as all encumbrances must be done by public document. All taxes must be paid in order for a transfer to be legally effective. Any document of transfer or judicial decision pertaining to property must be recorded with the Real Property Registry.


FQ 3   What are the actual conditions for groups who lease property including small businesses, minorities and other marginalized groups?

In Colombia there is a severe housing shortage that plagues the country’s most vulnerable populations. Roughly 2.5 million homes are in critical need of upgrade, including those in urban slums, which are often constructed from low-quality and unsafe building materials.

Besides, although the Colombian Congress passed the landmark Law 1448 (Victims’ Law) to restore to rightful owners some 17 million acres of land stolen over the past 25 years and also to assist and compensate the relatives of those killed, it remains a challenge to protect the property right of rural farmers, Afro-Colombian and indigenous community groups.


Source: 1) Ashoka –

2) State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 – Colombia,COI,MRGI,ANNUALREPORT,COL,,4fedb402c,0.html


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