Buganda Land Board explains adverse land possession

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Buganda Land Board explains adverse land possession
Deputy Buganda Land Board CEO, Juma Bashir Kizito

The Buganda Land Board has explained the recent statement made by the Attorney General in which he said that a person who has legally stayed on a piece of land for 12 years uncontested can apply to get a land title for it.

The statement misinterpreted by many saw the Attorney General direct under the Uganda land tenure system, that occupants who have stayed on Kibanja land without dispute for 12 years or more can obtain land titles through the land registrar should there be no one to come out as a real owner.

Commenting about the directive, Buganda Land Board Deputy CEO, Bashir Juma Kizito  explained that the Attorney General’s statement was in line with the law which states the 12-year stay as a basis for one to acquire the land title, provided no one comes out to claim its ownership.

“What people did not understand is that Mr Kiwanuka(Attorney Generai)’s statement is in line with the law under the Registration of Title Act, under Article 78 which stipulates that a person can claim title by adverse possession,” Kizito said.

Adverse possession is the legal process whereby a non-owner occupant piece of land gains title and ownership of that land after a certain period of time.

 Article 78 of the Registration of Title Act stipulates that a person who claims that he or she has acquired a title by possession to land registered under this Act may apply to the registrar for an order vesting the land in him or her for an estate in fee simple or the other estate claimed.

The Buganda Land Board deputy CEO explained that  anyone who has legally stayed on the land for 12 years uncontested with clear intentions of acquiring it is able to apply to the Registrar of Titles in the Lands Ministry for the title.

He added that applicants get titles upon clearance.

Kizito said  the above doctrine is also linked to the  Limitation Act which prohibits one from appealing to the land registry should they  obtain the title on his/her land after 12 years of stay.

“For example, if ‘person A’ squats on my land and I discover that he has done so illegally, I have the right to drag him to court, but that right is only valid for 12 years,” Kizito explained, adding that the 12-year-stay inscribed by this law should be one occupying the land consistently, and not in bits.

He further clarified that the law is thought against the true owner but it is so to avoid laziness on their part not to just stay back when squatters occupy their land without their knowledge.

“Therefore, people should be cautious. If ayone comes to occupy your land, there should be an agreement for their settlement, either by sale, lease or hire and in the presence of local council authorities, for which if these are in place, the adverse possession doctrine becomes null and void,” Kizito stated.

When contacted for further clarification on the Attorney General’s statement, Dennis Obbo, the Lands Ministry spokesperson confirmed knowledge and receipt of the guidance but said bureaucrats are scrutinizing  to get the implementation.

“The guidance came to our political leadership and was passed to the technical officials where a team of technocrats, led by the Registrar of Titles, have been constituted,” Obbo said.

“The  team will come up with the roadmap of implementation and upon completion, we shall inform the country how it will be handled.”


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