Lawyers Assn. challenges constitutionality of real estate appraisal requirement added to Act 52
By The Star Staff
The Lawyers Association, a group that has more than 3,000 members in Puerto Rico, has gone to court to challenge the constitutionality of Article 86 of Act 52-2022, which imposes certain requirements on lawyers working on title deeds.
The suit seeks a declaratory judgment challenging the constitutionality of the new law signed by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on June 30. Article 86 of the new law requires lawyers to obtain a real estate appraisal in any transaction involving the sale, donation, transfer, exchange, segregation, or grouping of a property as well as a title study and a measurement plan (plot plan).
The Association said the new requirement in Article 86 is unconstitutional because it was included in Act 52-2022 on the last day of the ordinary session, despite the fact that it bears no relation to the contents of the legislative measure. Act 52 is a tax measure that seeks to replace the excise tax on controlled foreign corporations, noted the document filed by lawyers Ramón Rosario Cortés and Ferdinand Ocasio Vélez.
Ocasio said “this measure affects our notaries by imposing additional requirements for the granting of a deed on the domain of a property.”
“Act 52-2022 is a bill of the governor, Pedro Pierluisi, and the new requirements for notaries were added by the Legislative Assembly on the last day of the ordinary session without the endorsement of the Executive and without relation to the administration measure,” he said.
Section 17 of Article III of the Puerto Rico Constitution requires that the laws deal only with one subject in general. The subject of Act 52-2022, which is a tax measure, is unrelated to appraisal requirements in the sale of real estate.
The measure has caused delays in real estate transactions.
Puerto Rico Bar Association President Daisy Calcaño López asked Pierluisi over the weekend to include in an extraordinary session of the Legislature proposed legislation that would amend Act 52-2022, because in her opinion the law has put notaries public in a position where they are doing the work of employees of the Municipal Revenues Collection Center (CRIM by its Spanish acronym).
“Our request to the governor, Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, is that he call an extraordinary session to amend Act 52 of 2022, eliminating Article 86 of the law,” Calcaño López said in a written statement. “Our call to the Legislature is to address this matter with the required urgency immediately. Waiting for the ordinary session in mid-August has an economic cost for all stakeholders, especially for the constituents.”
Calcaño López said the amendments to the Notarial Law are similar to those contained in House Bill 827. The amendments have their genesis in the move to update the real estate appraisals that the CRIM must do. Article 86 passes the responsibility of the appraisal work to lawyers when in fact it belongs to the CRIM, she said.