CAN I BUY "EJIDO" LAND?
A very large part of Mexican real estate is classified as ejido land. Ejido land is not private property and cannot be bought and sold as if it were. However, since the constitutional reforms of 1992 ejido land now can be converted into private property and sold to third parties, including foreigners. The present article will briefly describe what an ejido is and how ejido land is classified as well as talk about the ways in which ejido land can be converted into private property.
WHAT IS AN EJIDO?
In general terms, an ejido is a collective group of people that live and work on a determined piece of property as a community. While the concept of the ejido in Mexico is prehispanic, most of the fundamental ideas and concepts that created what an ejido is today stem from the theories of democratic communism. Understanding this is very important when dealing with ejidos. Most people reading this article have grown up in a society based on democratic capitalism in which the individual and not the community determines what he or she is going to do. In a communistic society the community determines what it is going to do, including agreeing upon how the land they hold is to be used.
Taking into consideration the above, it is not hard to imagine the confusions that could exist when discussing ownership of ejido land. Most foreigners associate the word "ownership" with words such as "fee simple", "private property" "Adam Smith", while the ejidatarios idea would be more on the lines of "community rights", "right to use and enjoy", "governmental concession".
Until ejido land is converted to private property, foreigners cannot acquire "ownership" of ejido land in accordance with their understanding of the word "ownership".
1.- Ejido land cannot be sold to non-ejido members until it is converted into private property. There are exceptions where non-ejido members can acquire "posessionary" rights to ejido land, however the rules governing posessionary rights are not very secure, especially for foreigners.
CAN EJIDO LAND BE CONVERTED INTO PRIVATE PROPERTY?
There are two principal ways in which ejido land can be converted into private property and they are as follows:
1.- By filing a suit based on prescriptive rights (adverse possession). This suit will only be productive when the person wanting to acquire title to ejido land can prove that he or she has possessed the land in good faith for 5 years or in bad faith for 10 years. Many professionals argue that this rule does not apply to foreigners. This article does not focus on converting ejido land into private property in this manner, however it should not be dismissed as a viable option.
The legal institutions of "prescriptive rights" or "adverse possession" are the methods of acquiring complete ownership rights to property, against the owner and other third parties, through possession of the property for an uninterrupted period of time. This time will be interrupted if the possession of the property is left or if the legal owner or a third party makes legal claims to the land. This method cannot be used if a contract exists between the owner and the person in possession of the property. Under the new Agrarian Law "prescriptive rights" can be used to acquire ownership to property. The "good faith", 5 year possession rule, in general terms, means that you have to possess the property for 5 years, be recognized locally as the owner, pay your property taxes and not know who the true owner is. The "bad faith" 10 year possession rule, in general terms, means that you have to possess the property for 10 years and you may or may not know who the owner is.
2.- By having the ejido agree to "certify" the rights of each person who owns or possesses land in the ejido and then convert the certificates to private property titles. In order to accomplish this the ejido must agree to enter and complete the following two procedures:
A.- PROCEDE.- PROCEDE or "Program of Certification of Ejido Rights" is a government procedure by means of which the government, upon the approval of the ejido, certifies the agrarian rights to land within the ejido. This is not an obligatory procedure and will only begin when the majority of the ejido agrees to enter into the procedure and the ejido does not have any legal conflicts that prohibit it from entering into the program.
All rights reserved 1998
|Connell & Associates©, 2002|