Chapter 01 - Title to Land

Chapter 01 - Title to Land

37.0101 Registration-Absence of conflicting claim a prerequisite.

(a) The owner of any land in American Samoa not previously registered may register his title thereto with the Territorial Registrar.

(b) No title to land shall be registered unless the Registrar is satisfied that there is no conflicting claim thereto and unless the description clearly identifies the boundaries of the land by metes and bounds.

(c) Every registration shall specify whether the land is registered as family owned communal land or individually owned land.

37.0102 Survey.

(a) When land is offered for registration, the offer shall be accompanied by a survey of land to which the title is proposed to be registered. The survey shall conform to regulations of the Governor.

(b) Unless otherwise provided by regulation, the point of departure in such survey shall be either tied in with an established coordinate or be a concrete monument procured from or poured in place by an authorized representative of the Governor for that purpose and set at least 3 feet in the ground at a corner of that land.

(c) The survey shall be accompanied by a certificate of the surveyor and the pulenuu of the village in which or nearest to which the land is located, to the effect that the pulenuu gave public oral notice in the village at a meeting of the chiefs thereof of the time and place of the intended survey in order that other interested landowners might have an opportunity to be present thereat.

(d) Any person who claims to be the owner of land which is not communal property may ask that the land be surveyed by a government surveyor, at the owner’s expense, and the Governor may provide for such survey to be made by a government surveyor if private surveying services are not available. Only the senior matai of a Samoan family has the authority to request a survey of communal property of that family.

37.0103 Notice-Adverse claim.

(a) Notice of the proposed registration shall be posted for 60 days on the bulletin board at the courthouse in Fagatogo and at 2 public places in the village in which or nearest to which the land is located and shall be published in a local newspaper at least once each 30 days during the 60-day notice period.

(b) During such 60-day period anyone claiming an interest in the land adverse to that of the applicant or applicants for registration may file notice of adverse claim with the Territorial Registrar.

(c) The Territorial Registrar shall not register any land until the applicant has provided notarized statements from the pulenu'u, newspaper, and clerk of the court, each of which states that the required notice has been given.

(d) If no notice of adverse claim is filed within the 60-day period, and all the requirements of this chapter have been complied with, the Territorial Registrar shall register the title to such land in the name or names of the applicant or applicants.

37.0104 Adjudication of conflicting claims.

(a) If it appears to the Territorial Registrar that there are conflicting claims to the title offered for registration, he shall refer the matter to the High Court of American Samoa for adjudication.

(b) Upon adjudication of the matter by the High Court, the Territorial Registrar shall register the land as directed by the court.

(c) Judgments adjudicating title to land shall:

(1) provide monuments, located on the ground, delineating the boundaries of the prop-erty;

(2) provide for a survey, the cost of which shall be assessed by the court;

(3) be accompanied by the survey when the judgment is registered by the Territorial Registrar.

37.0111 Affidavit-Recording-Right to file.

(a) An affidavit explaining any defect in the chain of title to any real estate may be recorded, as an instrument affecting the same, but no one except the owner in possession of such real estate shall have the right to file such affidavit.

(b) An affidavit filed under the authority of this section, or the record thereof, including all such affidavits now on record, shall raise a rebuttable presumption from the date of its recording, as shown by the endorsement of the Territorial Registrar thereon, that the purported facts stated therein are true. Five years after the date shown by such endorsement, such presumption shall be conclusive against all persons except the United States of America and the government of American Samoa.

37.0112 Affidavit-Posting notice.

(a) No affidavit affecting the chain of title to real estate may be filed for record unless the original in English and a copy thereof in Samoan have first been posted at the courthouse in Fagatogo for a period of 60 days, and 2 copies thereof in English and Samoan posted for the same period in 2 public places in the village located nearest to the real estate concerned.

(b) The Territorial Registrar shall execute a certificate under the seal of his office that the posting required by this section has been done, which certificate shall be recorded with the affidavit. No affidavit shall be filed until such certificate has been issued.

37.0113 Affidavit-By lessor.

A lessor who is an owner of real estate shall be deemed to be an owner in possession within the meaning of this chapter, but no affidavit executed by a lessor shall be filed and recorded unless it is accompanied by an affidavit executed by his lessee in actual possession setting forth that the lessor is the actual owner of the real estate involved. The affidavit of the lessor shall be posted and recorded in the same manner as other affidavits curing defects in the chain of title to real estate.

37.0120 Adverse possession-Claim in arrest.

(a) Actual, open, notorious, hostile, exclusive and continuous occupancy of real estate for 30 years confers a title thereto by adverse possession, which is sufficient against all.

(b) Any person claiming title to land in the occupation of another may state in writing such claim and file the same with the Territorial Registrar. Such claim, when so filed, shall arrest the running of the statutory period governing acquisition of title by adverse possession.