UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Many people buy property far away from where they reside, through a mediator or trustworthy friend, while in physical absence. In absentia, property owners may find their property invaded or taken.
How can absentee real property owners protect their property rights? The Head Legal Counsel and Company Secretary of Knight Frank Uganda, Nancy Birungi, shares the following useful advice for property owners;
Know the Law
The 1995 Constitution and the Land Act, Cap 227 (passed in 1998), defines a landowner as any Ugandan citizen who owns or holds land under any of the four (4) recognized systems of landholding. i.e. mailo, freehold, leasehold, and customary tenure.
Foreigners are also entitled to own lease land in Uganda that does not exceed 99 years.
Owners should familiarize themselves with procedures and documentation. Real property owners should ensure that all legal paperwork is in order.
Names in the owner’s title certificate must be the same as those on the registry copy at the land office and any other formal requests made regarding the land.
A caveat is another such document sometimes defined as a formal notice or warning given by a party interested in land to court. It allows a person interested in land to register at the Registry of Land to stop any transactions from being held on the land.
There are several situations in which a registered property owner might submit a caveat against land registered in their name. They range from lost possession to suspicious activity on land to absentee landowners who cannot conduct checks themselves.
A lawful occupant can also lodge a caveat to protect his interest. The applicant must draft the caveat with particulars like names, the forbidding clause and witnesses.
The document is usually signed by the caveator, with an advocate as a witness. It is also dated and signed by the deponent and a commissioner for oaths or a notary. It is essential to know the procedure and criteria to make better-informed choices as property owners.
Know the Language
To be a responsible property owner, you must understand the different terminologies used in the real estate world.
As some words have a similar meaning, differentiating between the various terms is essential; e.g., the land is an area of ground with boundaries, consisting of resources under the surface and everything growing on or attached to the surface. On the other hand, the property may not only be used to refer to actual space but also anything that can be owned.
Similarly, one must differentiate the terms real property from real estate. Real estate defines actual physical land and resources attached to the land. In contrast, real property includes legal rights along with real estate.
When collecting documentation or submitting claims, using the correct terminology assists property owners to protect their lands and interests most efficiently.
Know Your People
Setting boundaries and getting to know your neighbours is another way in which landowners can protect their property.
It is also advisable for absentee property owners to connect with their local council chairpersons. Staying associated with locals may reduce the incidence of trespassers and squatters acquiring your property. Hiring caretakers and erecting fences are other ways to protect property as well.
Pay Your Taxes
Paying property rates, ground rent, and rental income tax provides security for your property against land-grabbing; your tax returns can stand as further proof you are the legitimate owner of the property.
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