Get Her the Right Way and You’ll Cherish Her Forever (Steps to Land Acquisition in Ghana)
Someone once said that the University is like a market. It has good stuff and bad stuff. Pick the good stuff! But most importantly, get them the right way and you’d be glad you did! In today’s post, we’re delving into a topic that has been a bother to most people who have always had the desire to be land owners.
Today’s Blog Post is Dedicated to All Our Cherished Saasewise Readers Who Have Always Wondered What the right Steps to Land Acquisition in Ghana are. This is specially dedicated to Mr. Edward Otoo, Miss. Gifty Mintah and Mr. Gabriel Kobina Baidoo.
GET HER THE RIGHT WAY!
Land is a very important asset. It requires colossal sums of money and also possesses a unique attribute of appreciating in value with time. It is also a very good investment. In view of all these characteristics, individuals must take prudent steps in acquiring land to avoid litigation. Below are certain parameters that need to be verified regarding the acquisition of land.
1. Obtain a site plan
To begin with, the buyer must request for the site plan of the land from the land owner. A site plan is a readable map or a residential diagram depicting the plot of land on which the house sits, along with landscape topography and any exterior features. A site plan is described as a unique fingerprint of the land. This site plan must conform to the location on the ground and this can be validated by a licensed surveyor. The Survey and Mapping Division of the Lands Commission provides the services of licensed surveyors.
2. Conduct a Preliminary Search
The investigation of title is done by conducting a preliminary search from the relevant institutions. It is advisable to conduct preliminary searches before making any financial commitment. Below are the things to look out for when conducting a preliminary search:
• Existing tenancies and how far they are protected under the Rent Act
• the Land Use and Spatial Planning matters affecting the property – Whether the area is zoned for the use envisaged, whether there are any notices of compulsory acquisition, etc.
• Easement eg. Right of way, right to light being enjoyed as of right or by permission; if use is by permission, whether there is the likelihood of the permission being withdrawn
• Exclusive services being enjoyed by the property
• Shared services enjoyed by the property and the proportion of such services payable by the vendor
• Responsibility for roads and sewers in the area and whether there is an access road to the nearest highway
• Local searches at the Lands Commission, the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (Previously known as the Town and Country Planning Department) and the Local Authority offices
• Local property rates, utility services charged and taxes outstanding against the vendor and whether there or not he intends to pay them off before completion of the sale
The Lands Commission is designed to be the largest repository of land information in Ghana so it is highly advised that the buyer does his or her search there. With regards to the search, the buyer should provide two copies of the site plan to the Lands Commission. However, the search process could take a long period of time but in order to expedite the process, it is advisable that the buyer consistently follows up on the documents. This will help one to obtain the results in time in order to take a decision on the intended purchase.
The search doesn’t end here, one must also do his background checks by visiting neighbours around the property and even the chief of the vicinity to make enquiries on the ownership of the land. The people mentioned above may have some knowledge about any pending court litigations which the Lands Commission search had not revealed.
3. Draft a contract or agreement with the seller
Prospective buyers need to take note of the fact that lands are currently given out as leaseholds and not freeholds. The contract agreement should therefore include payment arrangements, the number of years the purchase lasts, renewal options and general agreement terms. You need to be very circumspect about the unexpired term of the lease otherwise you may end up buying something that is non-existent. Prior to payment, draft a contract of purchase and transfer of the said property endorsed by the buyer and seller. This should be done with the help of a lawyer.
4. Further Searches
After the execution and exchange of contract for the sale of land, further inquiries and searches may have to be carried out by the purchaser. Further searches are necessary because a vendor is only obliged to disclose latent defects (i.e. defects which cannot be discovered by reasonable careful inspection) of which he is aware in the contract. The purchaser must either personally or through his lawyer, first of all find out whether the property falls within an area which has been declared a compulsory registration district under PNDCL 152. In this case, the purchaser must find out if the seller has done his first registration. If not, find out if he has at least submitted an application at the Land Registry Division of the Lands Commission, whether or not a caveat has been at the Registry against the first registration and whether or not the interest has not been registered in the names of other people.
Where the land is not in an area declared as a compulsory registration district, search should be done in the Deeds Registry.
As at now, the Greater Accra Region and some parts of the Ashanti region are the only compulsory registration districts.
In conclusion, we advise all prospective buyers to register their lands because it authenticates the purchase and secures them from any form of disputes in the near future.
Land is a valuable asset. Get her the right way, and you will smile in years to come!