Saturday, 24 March 2018

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Buy Land, not Litigation

By: David Adade

The land ownership structure in Ghana is a complex one. Customary lands cover about 80% of the entire land in Ghana whiles the remaining 20% are vested and state lands. In the southern part of Ghana especially in Ashanti Region, land is owned by the stool, clans, families as well as individuals. A particular land can be owned by two or more families therefore, one needs to be very cautious when buying or leasing land from someone. Aside the land ownership pattern which exist in Ghana, there are also rights and interest prevailing on a particular piece of land. Various rights that exist on a particular land in Ghana can be allodial interest, usufractuary interest, leases, licenses and tenancies. In Ghana, one cannot own land forever! The highest number of years that one can lease a land is 99 years.

The statutory limitations on leases in Ghana are:
 Residential leases, 99 years
 Industrial leases, 50 years
 Agricultural leases, 50 years
 Petro filling stations, 21 years  
 Poultry farm leases, 21 years

Therefore, after the 99 years on residential properties, the land together with any development on the land will revert to the original owner provided there was no renewal clause in the lease agreement. Even if there is a renewal clause in the lease agreement, the lessor (original owner) reserves the right to either grant the renewal or refuse.

There have been many instances where a single piece of land is sold to two or more persons either by a chief or an individual. Therefore, thorough investigation must be done to ensure that the land is free from all encumbrances before one can go on and buy the land.

 I’m going to walk you through some of the things that can be done, if not to eradicate all the risk, can reduce it.

  1. First of all, one can undertake an official search at the Lands Commission. The lands commission is responsible for registration of all lands in Ghana. Therefore, they have all the information on every single piece of land they have registered. With a plot number, block number and location together with a site plan, one can go to the lands commission and request for a search to be conducted on the land to see whether it belongs to the person selling it to you or it has not been sold to another person.                                                                                           
  2. Another thing you can do is to make some enquiries within the neighbourhood where the land is situated. People living within that neighbourhood especially those who share boundary with that land may have some knowledge about the ownership of that land. Therefore, asking them may be of much help in reducing your risk of buying litigation instead of land.                            
  3. If the land is undeveloped, there may be someone farming on it or have planted some crops on it. Why don’t you ask that person who that land actuary belongs to? Or if the land has been developed and occupied by tenants, you can ask those tenants who the true owner of the property is.        

I hope these points will help reduce the rate of risk that you may encounter if you buy a land from someone. Please leave a reply or ask any question?

2 comments:

  1. What are customary lands and under what lease categories does 'galamsey' lands fall? thank you

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