The Stabit Advocates/Lawyer Guides & Leads#
DO YOU WISH TO MAKE A LAWFUL AND DEPENDABLE PURCHASE OF LAND IN RWANDA, HERE IS THE PROCEDURE YOU SHOULD FOLLOW; TIPS FROM THE BEST LAW FIRM IN RWANDA FOR LAND TRANSACTIONS.
- Overview of the Land rights and ownership in Rwanda by Stabit Advocates;
The Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of 2003 revised in 2015 provides that private ownership of land and other rights related to land are granted by the State. The land law of 2013 also states that the State is the sole authority to accord rights of occupation and use of land. It also has the right to order expropriation in the Public Interest. In addition, all forms of discrimination, such as that based on sex or origin, in relation to access to land and the enjoyment of land is prohibited.
Nevertheless, the land law grants the land owner full rights to exploit his or her land in accordance with the provisions of the land law and other applicable laws. In addition, the State recognizes the right to freely own land and shall protect the land owner from being dispossessed of their land whether totally or partially, except in case of expropriation due to public interest.
Every person who is in possession of land acquired either in accordance with custom or granted by a competent authority or by purchase, is the recognized proprietor under an emphyteutic lease. An emphyteutic lease according to the land law is defined as a long term contract between the State and a person to exploit land in return for a periodic agreed payment.
Any Rwandan citizen is entitled to be granted freehold title to land reserved for residential, industrial, commercial, social, cultural or scientific services. Freehold rights apply only to developed land where infrastructure is erected and its extent shall be strictly limited to the area of land that is necessary to support the authorized developments on the land and their amenity. In addition, the size of land that can be granted freehold title cannot exceed five (5) hectares. According to the land law, freehold is the type of land tenure granting full and indefinite rights over the land.
Foreigners are entitled to an emphyteutic lease on land, whether acquired from private persons or the State of a period not exceeding forty nine (49) years as compared to the lease Nationals are entitled to which is valid for a period not exceeding ninety nine (99) years and both are renewable. However, a foreigner may be granted freehold title if provided for by an International convention that Rwanda is signatory to or under the condition of reciprocity deriving from bilateral agreements. In addition, a foreigner is treated as a national and may be granted free hold title when operating in Special Economic Zones. Special Economic Zones are geographically specified and physically secured areas administered by a single body, offering certain incentives including more liberal and simplified economic regulations for businesses to physically locate and operate within it.
A land owner with freehold title pays property tax as provided for by the taxation laws while a land owner with emphyteutic lease pays lease fees as provided for by a Presidential Order.
- Procedure for Purchase of Land
It is advisable for anybody who intends on purchasing land to first carry out a due diligence to know the status of the land he or she is about to purchase for example to find out if such land is free from any encumbrances, caveats or is free from any mortgages. This can be done by carrying out a Mortgage Search at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and also carrying out an Encumbrance Search at the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority.
Upon confirmation by RDB and Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority that such land yet to be purchased is free from any encumbrances, the parties agree and sign an Agreement for Sale and Purchase of land which is signed before a Private Notary to give it legal backing.
It is advisable for the purchaser to pay using bank transfer to the land seller’s Bank Account Number or issue a cheque to the Seller’s names. This can be used to prove transfer of payment in the event that disputes arise in the future.
The parties then proceed to the Sector Office (Umurenge) where they sign a Transfer Form before the Public Notary of the Sector and also provide other documents including but not limited to National IDs of both seller and buyer, Proof of payment of transfer fees, Land Title among other documents in their application for Transfer of Title. After this process, the parties are given a receipt form as evidence of receipt of their transfer application. The buyer will thereafter be called upon after a period of time, to go and pick the land Title in his or her names.
- At Stabit Advocates, we have a team of Land Transactions’ Experts that will assist you in any land matters you might have. Don’t hesitate to reach out using the contact details hereunder provided.
Drawn and Drafted by;
Stabit Advocates Rwanda
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