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Types of Titles, Tenure of Property Titles, and Temporary Occupational Licence (TOL)

Titles, Tenures, And Licenses, Oh My! If These Terms Scare Or Confuse You, Read This Definitive Guide To Malaysia's National Land Code Of 1965 By Christopher Chan

The main land law governing land ownership and tenure in Peninsular Malaysia is the National Land Code 1965 (NLC), which came into effect on 1st January 1965. Sabah and Sarawak have their own sets of laws: the Sabah Land Ordinance and Sarawak Land Code respectively.

The land registration in all states in Peninsular Malaysia is the Torrens system, which is administered by the State Land Offices and coordinated by the Department of Land and Mines.

Types of Titles

1. Master Title

Where a property has not been issued with an individual IDT (Issue Document of Title) or strata title, the property is said to be held under a Master title (otherwise known as a ‘Main title’ or ‘Parent Title’).

Under the NLC, there are two documents of title for a parcel of land:

a) The Register Document of Title, which is the main document evidencing title. This is permanently kept at the Land Office / Registry.

b) The Issue Document of Title is a copy of or an extract from the Register Document of Title and is given to the proprietor of the land.

The Master title generally refers to a comparatively bigger piece of land and is registered in the name of the developer initially. Typically the developer may then continue to submit an application for subdivision of the master title into individual titles and strata titles.

2. Individual Title

This is issued under the NLC for landed property such as land, houses, shop-houses, and factories that are commonly not multi-storey.

3. Strata Title

This is issued to individual units on high-rise or multi-storey buildings. Examples are apartments, condominiums, flats, serviced apartments, and townhouses.

This also includes landed strata titles issued to a housing development under the GCS (Gated Community Scheme) comprising landed properties such as terrace houses, semi-detached houses, and bungalows. This came about via the 2007 amendment to the Strata Titles Act 1985.

Our Strata Title Act 1985 is modelled on the Australian New South Wales Conveyancing (Strata Titles) Act 1961 and the Singapore Land Titles (Strata) Act 1967.

Tenure of a Property Title

The tenure of a Property title can either be:

a) Freehold: held in perpetuity; OR

b) Leasehold: The land belongs to the state and the NLC under section 76(a) provides for a maximum period of lease not exceeding 99 years. At the expiry of the term, (unless the lease is renewed), the land reverts to the State Government.

Temporary Occupational Licence (TOL)

This is granted by the State Authorities for a certain period of time. The occupation of the land is temporary and is given a licence to do so. This is done to avoid socio-economic as well as legal problems that might result from squatting and trespassing on State land.

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