Homes and Property
Is your home on the Kabaka’s land? Then, you must know the following
Posted Wednesday, January 30 2013 at 02:00
Acquiring land on the Kabaka’s land is way cheaper than free hold land. But its not without its downsides. Before one considers buying land and constructing a house on this land or if someone has been the Kabaka’s tenant for a while, it is important for one to be acquainted with what it means to be on this lease.
The family of the late John Kirigwajjo has been living on Kabaka’s land in Kasubi since the mid 1970’s. “Our father bought this land from someone whom we do not know because we were very young then. But we are well-known to the neighbours as the owners of this land although we do not have a land title to show ownership,” Phillip Kirigwajjo, the 30-year-old son of the deceased explains.
As to why the Kirigwajjo family has not heeded the call to get a proper land title from Buganda Land Board, the entity that is in charge of managing Kabaka’s land, they explain that their fear stems from the likelihood of being made to pay through the nose for their one-acre piece of prime land, money which they do not have right now.
The money needed for registering the land
The fear of the Kirigwajjo’s is not isolated but widespread amongst many of the people staying on Kabaka’s land; the fear that a lot of money will be demanded when they wake up to go and register their land. So, they simply sit put and avoid going anywhere near Buganda Land Board offices.
However, Abbey Ntambi, the communications manager of Buganda Land Board notes that most squatters on Kabaka’s land reason that “their” Kabaka would never evict them from his land, something which is true in a sense.
But again, even without the Kabaka raising a finger, “they need to secure their tenancy from land grabbers who might be interested in their land,” Ntambi says. “They stand to lose more money hiring lawyers and battling it out in court. But if their land is registered and plotted under their names in the Department of Lands and Survey, if they get a land title, then no one can evict them just like that.”
This is different from someone going behind your back to register and secure a title for your land behind your back, which usually happens for prime land.
Requirements for a title
To Ntambi, it is important that squatters understand that this land belongs to someone, to a landlord, the Kabaka, who is simply using Buganda Land Board to help him adequately manage it.
“It is not their land and the law says a landlord must know you which we are trying to do, to know our tenants, to require that they come and introduce themselves.”
He explains the process of freeing your land from possible land wrangles; first, we survey and value the land according to the market price. If the land costs Shs10m, a squatter is required to pay 10 per cent of this amount, called the premium. In this case it is Shs1m. Payment of this money means a person has entered into a leasehold agreement spanning 49 years.
Squatters on Kabaka’s land are also to pay an annual ground rent equivalent to 10 per cent of the premium amount. In this case, if someone paid a premium of Shs1m, then ground rent would in this case be Shs100,000.
This annual ground rent charge seems to be the biggest challenge most people have with Kabaka’s land but Ntambi says BLB is simply following the rules and regulations governing any leased land.
On the other hand, he also thinks that getting a proper leasehold means you can easily get a loan from the bank to help you develop since these titles can be used as security in money lending institutions.
The other worry for people living on Kabaka’s land is for the Kabaka or any of his subjects, or even BLB waking up one day and deciding that they favour the piece of land where you are staying.
“Take the location of Muganzirwazza,” Joseph Mukasa, a data entry clerk in an NGO, gives an example, “that place had people, owners, who were sent off to pave way for the building.”
Ntambi however argues that even if the Kabaka should be interested in your land, “just the same way government does it if say, they wanted to implement a project or build a road going through your plot of land, you will be adequately compensated, a process that is made easier if you have a land title.”
What punitive measures have been taken against those who do not comply?
Like the Kirigwajjos, many people have simply refused to introduce themselves to Mengo. So what does BLB do about such cases?
“It is a big challenge but we try to strike a balance between looking for money to run our institution and our public image, which is equally important to us. We have engaged them on many occasions and found that actually, some of them do not have the money to get leasehold,” Ntambi explains. “But even then, we require that they at least introduce themselves to us and we know them as bibanja owners. They open up a file and they can even sell this land to someone else.”
Persuasion also seems to work wonders for Mengo according to Ntambi.
“We try to persuade them and we even show them the legal options open to us if they do not register. They do accept to pay up on many occasions but we never prosecute those who do not because we do not want to go on record for doing it. We appreciate that we are dealing with people who love their Kabaka and believe that he would never do such a thing.”
The biggest advantage of staying on Kabaka’s land however is that it is far much cheaper, in some places, a third of the price of neighbouring mailo land.
In Mutundwe for example, Grace Asiimwe, whose land borders that of the Kabaka says that a 50X100ft plot goes for Shs30m while the same size of plot goes for Shs9m on the adjacent plots that fall on Kabaka’s territory.
But with the noose of annual ground rent fees and the premium payable every after 49 years, it means that a 30-year-old who buys Kabaka’s land today may still be alive by the time the years of paying premium roll by again. Even then, trying to sell, when the number of years left on a leasehold are fewer, say 10, can mean that you do not recoup that much from your investment. By and large, going for the mailo land option, land that you can comfortably leave with your descendants without worrying about the possibility of failure to pay the premium that may lead to eviction, is more advantageous.