Land Registration in Ghana: 7 Steps To Take
Land is a valuable asset to own as its value increases over time. It is then important to make sure that…
In lieu of the increasing rate of land development in Accra, Jumia House Ghana sat down with Anthony Opoku Boateng, Head of Clients’ Service, Lands Commission and talked about issues concerning land acquisition and the legal process it involved and as always some tips and advice for our readers.
Jumia House Ghana: What is the main Role of the Lands Commission?
Anthony Opoku Boateng: The Lands Commission manages state lands, vested lands – lands the government holds in trust of a family or stool, for various uses, residential, health, education, government agencies, i.e. MDAs, district assemblies, etc.
The Lands commission also grants concurrent to stool land transactions, to make sure stated rents and compensations are reasonable. We also provide consultation services to the state town planning and the district assemblies. We also act as a secretariat for the government in negotiations to acquire lands and ensure that required compensations are paid on time.
Even though the government manages stool or family lands the benefits go to the parties concerned, i.e. the family or stool.
L.G: Are there any particular owners or custodians of lands in Ghana?
A.O.B: There are lands that are owned by the stools or traditional authorities and also lands owned by the government. Some are also passed down as inheritance passed down in families and individuals. Hence it depends on the land and the location.
L.G: What about pricing of lands?
A.O.B: That is outside our control as those are usually private transactions among interested parties. Developed lands usually go for higher prices with owners than undeveloped or raw lands.
L.G: What is the process of acquiring land in Ghana?
A.O.B: This may seem quite challenging because there is actually no standard procedure in acquiring land in Ghana. The land commission in this regard mainly just registers lands and process land documents. These land documents are documents obtained privately by individuals from the said landowners. Other relations in regards to the transactions between the landowner and the prospective buyer have no role with the lands commission.
Basically you first need to establish the area you want to acquire land from, finding a set location, once you find a seller you need the landowner to provide you with a site or cadastral plan prepared by a licensed and professional surveyor which shows the precise location and coordinates of the land. This site plan helps prevent ownership disputes with land guards.
L.G: Does the Lands Commission then have copies of all land surveys and plans?
A.O.B: If the land is documented, then the land commission is most likely to have copies. For other parts of Ghana, there are regional lands commissions to help with this process.
It is however a common mistake among most prospective land buyers to make payments before they come to the Lands Commission to do a search and confirm the lands and ownership, bringing about more disputes. The Land Commission is not responsible for handling land disputes; the appropriate courts handle some civil disputes.
It also advisable to get a form of identification from the said owner and make sure all supporting documents tally with the identified owner.
L.G: How long does it take to conduct a search with the Lands Commission?
A.O.B.: It takes a minimum of two weeks to complete a search though this is relative, as some lands may take longer.
L.G: What are some challenges experienced by the Lands Commission?
A.O.B: A main challenge is our manual record system used to conduct searches, this makes the process tedious and time-consuming, however we are in the process of trying to upgrade to an advanced technological database.
L.G: Any advice for prospective land buyers?
A.O.B: Prospective buyers must do their due diligence and not rush in acquiring lands and also look out for signs of possible fraud some of which include, the said owner being fishy or asking the buyer to pay for the site plan. A genuine landowner offers the site plan at no cost and openly allows for confirmation and search by the lands commission. It is also helpful to hire an independent surveyor to crosscheck the land against the said site plan.
The public also needs to note that lands are no more an outright-sale unlike in the past. All lands in Ghana are now leased for a period; this could be 99 years, 50 years, and 20 years so the payment made for the ‘purchase’ of the land is a premium paid for any of the appropriate lease periods. The buyer or owner is still required to pay an annual rent fee till the premium or lease period expires. This is listed in the supporting documents, which is usually overlooked by most owners/buyers.