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Mount Lebanon’s land registry offices have been closed for a year and a half, resulting in over 50,000 pending paperwork. On January 22nd, at the request of the caretaker Minister of Finance, Youssef Khalil, activities partially resumed in these offices. This is Beirut provides an update.

Mount Lebanon’s land registry offices have been closed since October 2022, resulting in over 50,000 pending property registration and other types of formalities. According to the Chairman of the parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee, Ibrahim Kanaan, this represents nearly 10 trillion Lebanese pounds of missed tax revenue for the public treasury. He based his numbers on the revenues of 2022, which had reached, until October, 507 billion Lebanese pounds based on an exchange rate of 1,500 Lebanese pounds per dollar. As per the 2024 budget, land registry revenues are estimated at 36 trillion Lebanese pounds, accounting for 15% of tax revenues. Nassib Ghobril, chief economist of Byblos Bank, estimates that losses in land registry services amount to $1.55 million per day, based on an exchange rate of 89,500 Lebanese pounds.

Completing Outstanding Paperwork

The land registry and property administration offices have reopened on January 22, following a request from the caretaker Minister of Finance, Youssef Khalil. Since then, they have only been processing the backlog of requests and transactions that have accumulated over the past months. No new formalities or requests are currently being accepted. Sources close to the Ministry of Finance, which oversees these operations, told This is Beirut that the backlog of formalities is “quite significant,” adding that “the exact date for accepting new formalities hasn’t been confirmed yet,” especially as processing pending formalities needs to be completed first. According to the aforementioned sources, progress is being made, with “5,177 formalities – property deeds and real estate certificates – already processed.”

The same sources stated that “once this step is over with, new formalities and requests will be accepted.” The starting date for accepting these formalities will be announced in due course. However, the offices of the Metn will not resume normal operations for another few weeks.

The land registry offices in Mount Lebanon have already delivered three sets of prepared property titles to the relevant parties or their representatives, following a predetermined distribution process. Usually, paperwork is processed on Fridays, but due to the Good Friday and the Eid al-Fitr holidays – which extended from Wednesday, April 10th to Saturday, April 13th – no distributions were done according to these sources. However, a set of formalities will be handed out this upcoming Friday, April 19th.

It should be clarified that the land registry services in Mount Lebanon have been closed since October 2022, following legal actions taken against 124 employees from these services on corruption charges stemming from allegations of bribery. The Mount Lebanon land registry services include those of Baabda, Aley, Metn, Chouf, Jounieh and Jbeil.