Understanding the Ejido

Understanding the Ejido

Ejido land (pronounced eh-hee-do) is a term you may come across when considering real estate in Puerto Vallarta or other parts of Mexico and it isn’t something easily understood, because the concept is not found in other parts of North America. In a simple history, after the Mexican Revolution and under the Mexican Constitution, large parcels of land from wealthy landowners were divided up into ejidos to create small agricultural communities for those living in poverty. Known as ejidatarios, these people, as part of the ejido communal group, could farm and live on the land in perpetuity. Ejidatarios could bequeath their part of the communal land to their children and parts of the ejido could be rented to third parties, but the ejido itself could never be fully owned or sold.

However, over a 100 years later, it is not uncommon to find ejido land upon which no persons are living nor farming, and in 1992 the Mexican government established PROCEDE, a system by which ejido land was categorized. Today, there are three types of ejidal property:

1) Community development – land which may not be sold.
2) Common use – land which may be parceled into sections and sold.
3) Individual – existing privatized parcels which may be sold.

Although 2 of the 3 forms of ejido land can be privatized, parceled and sold, a community vote must be held and a resolution to privatize requires a 2/3 majority to pass. It is crucial that these community votes are undertaken with rigorous due diligence, as in some circumstances it may be difficult to trace the ancestry of ejido land rights, and should an individual found to have a valid communal claim not be present for a vote and come forward at a later date, it may lead to a legal battle over ownership which could be both lengthy and costly, and could potentially result in the loss of the land for the new owner.

So, if the question is, can you purchase ejido land? The answer is a cautious yes, but only under very specific circumstances. It is a tremendously complex and complicated process that should never be undertaken without a knowledgeable real estate agent, a lawyer that is experienced in ejido land process and a reputable notary ensuring that your purchase is valid and legal.

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