Hungary has an area of 93,000 sq. km and a population of 10.2 million. There are currently over 7 million property records and 55,000 cadastral maps, which are maintained at the 116 District Land Offices. There are 19 County Land Offices and the Capital Land Office which are responsible for the administration, budgeting, quality control, and the hearing of appeals against District Land Office decisions. This network is administered by a central Department of Lands and Mapping, located within the Ministry of Agriculture in Budapest. The Institute for Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing (FÖMI) provides research and development, and also technical and administrative support to the network. Prior to the commencement of the EU PHARE Computerisation of Land Offices Project, the Land Registration System was almost totally based on paper records consisting of cadastral maps (boundary information) and property sheet records which contain the property description, ownership information, and any financial or other burdens on the property (i.e. the legal and administrative records).
A land compensation programme has been enacted whereby areas of land are redistributed to former owners or other compensation claimants and this has created an effective 2.1 million new land parcels, involving more than five million hectares. All of this has to be managed, auctioned, divided, set out, and the results assimilated into the land register. New professional regulations and respective standards are under elaboration with special emphasis on specific Hungarian circumstances, the European approach as well as initiatives and trends in digital mapping and information technology in general.
The Land Registration Sector is a key component of a free market economy whereby the safe and secure transfer of Title can be freely conveyed. In Hungary, as in many other European countries, the Government acts as the guarantor of title through the act of registration of property which records all required legal, administrative, financial and physical description information within the system of the register and upon the cadastral map. The map records are tied to the legal and property records by means of a unique identifier (the parcel number). In Hungary, this system is largely in place, and coupled with the decentralised nature of the Hungarian system, the system provides the large scale basis for the collection and recording of other land related data (land use and classification, land protection) and thus forms a true multipurpose cadastre. The multipurpose nature of the Land Registration System forms a potentially valuable state asset. (note that other European countries, including those from Western Europe are trying to move towards this kind of system). The conclusion from this is that the form of Land Registration system as practised in Hungary is fundamentally sound and should be retained.
Land registration in Hungary is facing problems at the present time, but not insurmountable problems. The Key Issues that arise can be considered to be naturally composed of two groups:
The Ministry has had to carefully consider these issues in formulating its strategy. The issues that arise specifically concerned with Land Registration include the modernisation (technical, financial, procedural) of the Land Registration sector, the assimilation of the results of the land compensation programme, cadastral map conversion, national standards, ownership and copyright, cost recovery, land consolidation, legal issues, potential institutional reform (administration, budgeting, organisational) and education and training. The Ministry is the executive authority tasked with competence for the above activities.
- issues principally concerned with the Land Registration Sector itself, and
- issues principally concerned with supporting the market transition process.
The support for the market reform process includes the key issues of forming efficient methods for the transfer of real land and property assets; supporting security of credit, the role of the public and private sectors; the role of local authorities; NGO's and utilities; land use and classification; land valuation (urban and rural); the economic viability of agriculture; agrostatistics; environmental protection (monitoring and assessment) and harmonising initiatives with the EU procedures; including the development, definition and usage of spatial reporting units (NUTS). The Ministry must work with other partners, including Ministries, NGOs, local authorities, and national and international organisations in order to resolve these issues.
The Land Registration sector is currently facing challenges from a number of sources:
The Ministry recognised these problems at an early stage and put into effect a "Computerisation of Land Offices" project, financed by PHARE (originally Poland Hungary Assistance for the Reconstruction of the Economy, later extended to other beneficiary countries) Aid Programme, with counterpart Government of Hungary funding. This project - started in March 1992 - is aimed at providing the technical facilities to allow the Land Offices to computerise the records, and thereby meet these demands for increased throughput, new products and the assimilation of the new compensation units. Since the beginning up to April 1997, almost 15 million ECU has been extended on the project, supplying euqipment, peripherals, database software to all land offices and supporting education and training of the employees. This sum already contains the funds allocated for the 1995 programme to be implemented in 1997/98.
The transition to market economy
The transition, introduced in 1989, has stimulated the land and property sector. It is estimated that as much as 20% (Dale et al, UN ECE Land Administration Guidelines, 1995) of the national GDP comes from the Land & Property and construction sectors of the economy. The transition process has introduced mass privatisation, increased individual home ownership, and placed severe increases on the demands for land registration information.
- The Land Compensation Programme
A Land Compensation Programme has created 2.1. million new land parcels. The new boundary and legal information has to be assimilated into the land registration records.
The privatisation of state farms, co-operatives and state industry all place demands on land registration records.
- Land Consolidation
The Land Compensation Programme has produced over two million new property units, many of which are unviable for agricultural purposes. There will have to be a consolidation programme to create agriculturally viable units.
- Increased Conveyancing
The public have significantly increased home ownership through a programme of subsidised purchases, the compensation programme, and increased commercial development. These problems are particularly acute in the large urban centres.
- Establishment of Condominiums (housing associations)
The large scale establishment of condominiums, and the resulting change of registration entries has produced a situation where Land Offices can suddenly receive a request for the wholesale transfer of assets, which may involve several hundreds or even thousands of property units.
- Demand for New Products and Services
The Local Authorities, Utility companies, environmental agencies all require large scale base maps (digital) to support their management information systems. The digitising of the large scale cadastral maps (on demand) would satisfy this requirements, but there has to be agreement on standards, data content, data structure, data transfer methods, updating, copyright, ownership and usage. In the absence of agreement, these users will simply carry out their own programmes.
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