What are Disputed lands? Disputed Lands are lands that have been:
- The subject of litigation,
- Been sold to more than one person,
- The subject of inter-family or communal ownership tussle.
- The subject of government interference.
a. Lands that are subject of litigation: this kind of lands are classified as lands that are “Lis pendis” meaning there is a pending litigation on the land and the subject matter has not been determined. These types of lands are a no-go area because the ownership of the land is still being determined hence you may be purchasing the land from the eventual wrong owner.
Identifying a land under litigation might be easy as well as quite difficult. Easy in the sense that if the land is fenced you may find the suit number of the litigation boldly written on the fence, however, if a land is not fenced it becomes a daunting task to decipher if the land is under litigation or not.
b. Lands that are subject of inter-family or communal ownership tussle: issues like this are very common amongst the customary landowners. Oftentimes you have several families claiming ownership over an expanse of land especially when issues of land encroachment have been established. These types of land are quite dangerous to purchase as any issue on the land will be transferred to the innocent purchaser. Same can be said of lands with communal clashes, oftentimes you have one or two communities fighting over territorial boundaries, these kinds of lands should be avoided.
c. Lands that are subject of government interference: a land that falls within government acquisition will certainly bring trouble in the future if purchased. It is advisable to avoid this kind of lands to guarantee one's peace of mind.
d. Lands that have been sold to more than one person: customary landowners are fond of selling lands to two or more persons, this kind of land will certainly lead to disputes when it is time to start developing the land. We have an incidence of customary landowners trying to even sell a land that has been developed by its owner.
When trying to acquire a land from customary landowners, it is important to look out for signs of development on the land or signs that a third party has taken possession of the land. On discovery of this, I advise you stay clear of such land as it is evident that the sellers are trying to sell a land that has been previously sold to a third party. If you are told by the sellers that the development was done by them, please stay clear because it is very unusual for customary landowners to start constructing a fence or corner piece on their land.
In conclusion, acquisition of landed property is a very serious business and any wrong step can result in life-changing circumstances. I always recommend you engage the services of a land verification expert from the onset to guide you in your land investment plan.
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