When you drive through places like the Ministries, Cantonments, 37, Independence Avenue and see people in African prints, you may not need a soothsayer to tell you it’s a Friday in the city of Accra.
“Fri……………………ayy!!”, I screamed. I totally forgot it was a Friday. Apparently, I woke up very late and had to quickly prepare for work. I just couldn’t figure out what was exciting me but some way, some how, I found myself being the happiest at work.
Hi! My name is Kuuku, a 30 year old chemist.
I entered the office, asking my colleagues all sorts of questions.
This was so unusual of me. I noticed the surprise in their eyes. But I just couldn’t be bothered. I went about my usual duties at work with so much happiness.
About an hour to the close of work, I called a couple of friends and arranged a get together for the Friday night.
After the close of work, we met at our usual meeting place. As we laughed, jeered and had fun, a brochure of houses for sale was given to us and I was particularly impressed by one of them. I had lived in a rented apartment, all my life and thought it was about time, I moved into my own apartment. The opportunity came just at the right time. I made enquiries about the price and the payment arrangements. I must say, I was very much impressed after I had the chance to inspect the property. I quickly withdrew money from my investment accounts, made my first down payment and made the remaining payments over a period of 2 years. After the second year, I was the owner of that 4 bedroom ultramodern apartment. As the apartment was my newest baby, I named her Yaa. At age 27, I felt Yaa was just the greatest accomplishment and a lifetime acquisition for myself and generations yet unborn. I just couldn’t wait to let my parents know how proud I was to have Yaa. I had real big plans for her.
A few years later, I had some people coming to inspect the property, claiming ownership of my Yaa. After five years of litigation, I lost Yaa to Mr. Keltiwin.
BUT I THOUGHT SHE WAS MINE FOREVER
It was then that a friend introduced me to the saasepedia.
What does Saasepedia say about this?
- You Cannot Own Land/Landed Property in Ghana Forever
I know this sounds harsh but it is the hard truth. Let’s take a walk through a path of enlightenment on the types of Land ownership in Ghana and why freehold interests (perpetual ownership) have become defunct Ghana’s Land administration system. You may be wondering what Freehold and Leasehold interests are. They are the main types of interests in land. When a person has a freehold interest, it simply means that the owner has no time limit in his or her period of ownership whilst Leasehold interest (leases) is where the tenant is given a specific time period of ownership.
For non-Ghanaians, the highest residential lease stipulated by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana is 50 years (Article 266). About 80% of Ghanaian lands are customary lands. The remaining are vested lands and state lands. State lands are owned by the state, whereas vested lands are owned by communities or individuals but managed by the state. Customary lands are owned by traditional groups such as ethnic groups, tribes, kingdoms, clans and families. Article 267 (3) and (4) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana makes it mandatory for approvals to be taken from the Lands Commission for customary transfers to take approvals. Before Lands Commission grants such approvals in the form of concurrence to leases, certain terms of such transfers are first reviewed. The statutory limitations on lease terms in Ghana are as follows:
For residential leases, 99 years
For industrial leases, 50 years
For fuel retail outlets, 21 years
For Agricultural leases, 50 years
For Poultry farm leases, 21 years
This simply means that, freehold interest, which is perpetual ownership of land in customary lands are no longer granted to individuals. There are however some leases taken by Ghanaians that exceed the 99 year stipulated period. A classic example is the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) lease, which was taken years before the coming into being of the 1992 Constitution.
- Buyer Beware!
This principle is usually expressed as “Caveat Emptor”, which simply means “Buyer Beware”. Real Estate/ Landed Property is an investment which involves colossal sums of money. Like every other investment, it is prudent that the investor minimizes his risk and ensures that the investment is one that yields good returns. You don’t want to lose so much money when you could have taken measures to prevent such losses. That is why it is very important that a buyer makes the relevant investigations before investing any amount into Real Estate or landed property. Even though one may not know every encumbrance on land, it is very important that a buyer takes the relevant measures to ensure that whatever property he or she is buying is free from encumbrances. Encumbrances come in the form of conflicting interests (i.e. other people who may have paid for the same land). Some of these measures include an official search at the Lands Commission to ensure that no one else has registered or owns the same parcel of land. Official searches may not be enough, to ensure that there are no encumbrances on the parcel of land. It would also be prudent on the part of the buyer to make few enquiries within the neighbourhood where land is situated.
In Kuuku’s scenario, Yaa would not have been purchased if the necessary steps were taken to ensure that Yaa was free from encumbrances. He would have known that it is almost impossible to own Yaa forever.
This is among the few mistakes we make when it comes to Real Estate decision-making.
It is always important to stay informed.
Stay Informed…. Stay Saasewise
Read the Saasepedia!