Role of the Notary Public in Mexico
Notary Public is the most important person you will deal with when
you make a property investment in Mexico. Do not confuse
the role of the Notary Public in the US or UK with its counterpart
in Mexico: they are quite different. In the UK for example, almost
anyone can become a Notary Public. Not so, in Mexico, where the
role is appointed directly by the State Governor (the highest seat
in State Public Office). The Notary Public has the power to witness
and certify important business documents which require absolute
authenticity. The appointment also holds responsibility for the
management and secure storage of original records. Notary Publics
must be Mexicans of at least 35 year in age, they must have a degree
in Law, have 3 year's work experience at a Notary Public office
and they must pass a stringent exam. Those who pass, in time, are
appointed as Notary Public by the State Governor.
Under Mexican Law, the
deed to the property must be prepared by a Notary Public. As a buyer,
it is your right to choose the Notary Public, and it should be your
first port of call - or second after your lawyer.
The Notary Public will
ensure that all documentation and permits are in order so that the
transaction can proceed.
official to do with your transaction should be done via the Notary
Public: Do not take anyone's word about documentation (like property
deeds) being valid - take copies to the Notary Public for official
verification. A good lawyer will be able to advise you on such matters.
Common Checks that should be made:
The Notary Public
and/or your lawyer will do a series of checks on the property and
ensure that the property has a 'clean' history, and that there are
no liens on the land (e.g. an old unpaid mortgage). Under
Mexican Law, liens are passed on with title of the land - BEWARE!
Your Notary Public should
also check that all land taxes have been paid during the last five
years (if applicable) and that utilities (electric, gas, water and
phone) have also been paid during the last two years. By Law, you
are not liable to debts after these times.
Other items to be checked
include: Checking all buildings are on tax registers and have the
required building permits, utilities were legally installed and
payments are up-to-date, the property is not jointly owned, or if
it is, that both (or all) owners agree to the sale, and that the
seller/s has/have the right to sell.
The Notary Public
is legally responsible to ensure that all documents
are in order and that all legal procedures have been adhered to.
He will do a thorough check and will not destroy his reputation
by hiding any problems, or potential problems from you.