Estimated 23 Percent of Rio Favela Homes to be Legalized

Authorities report 103,000, or 23 percent, of the homes in Rio's favela communities are in the process of receiving legal ownership titles.

By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The ‘irregular’ communities of favelas in and around the city are home to approximately 22 percent of Rio, and now following the UPP (Police Pacification Unit) program is an effort to legalize property titles. Authorities last week reported that 103,000, or 23 percent, of the homes are in the process of regularization, which will take years to complete.

Governor Cabral in Rocinha, Home Titles, Rio de Janiero, Brazil News

Governor Cabral in Rocinha at a ceremony granting home title documentation last May, photo by by Shana Reis/Imprensa RJ.

There are several government bodies that originally owned the land, as well as some privately owned property, before the mass settlements developed at a time of oppressive economic hardship for many laborers migrating to the city.

To appropriately manage the legal transition of ownership, residents are required to attain different types of documents based on the original owners.

Of total properties in the current regularization process, 68,000 are under the responsibility of the Municipal Housing Secretariat, which expects to complete delivery of the securities to legitimate possession until 2016 according to O Globo news. Another 34,300 cases are managed by the state Department of Housing.

For previously privately-owned land, concession titles will be used, valid for 99 years, and then renewable for the same period, until the state completes the payment of areas acquired, or titles to legitimate possession. In either case, the current resident is set to receive the final document after five years.

According Mayumi Sone, president of the Institute of Land and Cartography of the State of Rio (ITERJ), the organization that looks after the settlement of state property, the volume of cases accelerated after 2009, when state laws were passed that allowed the donation of public to private property, as well as the Minha Casa, Minha Vida program.

Residents are set to receive property titles, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Residents are set to receive property titles from ITERJ in Morro do Pereorao, near Larangeiras, photo by Clarice Castro/ITERJ.

“About eighty percent of the processes we have today are related to buildings in favelas. It is a considerable volume which has increased after the new state law. The law of the Minha Casa, Minha Vida also helped expedite the process. Before we opened 1,500 regularization procedures per year, today we get to 10,000 a year,” Sone explained.

ITERJ is responsible today for the regularization of 43,000 properties in favelas, and underdeveloped urban areas. For 2014, the expectation is the number of properties will reach 66,000. However Sone cautions, “The entire process of regularization is time consuming because it requires a series of steps that the government must meet, as well as documents that residents must submit.”

Despite the bureaucracy required, the results are being felt, as in Moses Antônio Teixeira Alves, who received a home ownership document in 2011. He told O Globo, “My mother died over fifteen years ago and never had such a document showing property ownership. Our dream has always been to have this document, because it is a guarantee until we get the final title in the coming years. With it, the property is really ours.”

A fear is though, that the exploding real estate market in Rio, where housing costs have doubled in some cases over the last three years, this legalization will lead to speculation, and then gentrification, pushing many of the current resident from the properties.

According to the president of the Institute of Architects of Brazil (IAB-RJ), Pedro da Luz Moreira, the title deed of the property allows residents to have an address recognized by the courts and obtain credit from banks, as well as having a well recognized and valued property asset in the market.

Moreira, however, draws attention to the need for the public to create mechanisms to protect the residents of speculation power. “[…] we must be careful because the market is cruel. The speculation can end up causing these residents to be forced out. In Vidigal, before the start of the regularization process, there was already a strong real estate values. This tendency may be stronger from now.”

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