…A menace that needs to be cured immediately
Ghana’s land market is increasingly becoming characterised by a lot of indiscipline activities such as multiple sales, fraud, insecurity of title, encroachments, and many others. These issues are widespread in both urban and rural communities but highly prevalent in urban areas.
With rapid urbanization, there is an invoice increase in demand for land for residential, commercial, industrial, and social uses. The created need has therefore provided viable breeding grounds for several malpractices in the market. Land disputes are therefore so common in the urban areas in Ghana, especially, Accra and its immediate environs.
The prominent issues in the land market include the following:
- Multiple Sales: This situation arises where two or more people are sold the same parcel of land by the same person(s) or by different person(s). This may result from deliberate actions of unscrupulous landowners or by mistake. A mistake may usually occur where the landowners do not have proper records of land transactions or do not use professionals in the allocation of lands sold. Where it is a mistake, it may be resolved by the involvement of the landowner who would usually allot another place to one of the parties if agreed. The deliberate ones are obviously very difficult to result because amicably and usually end up in court litigations, physical clashes, or destruction of improvements on the land.
- Insecurity of title: Title, as explained in my previous series, is the bundle of rights a party may own in a real property (land). In Ghana, the Lands Commission certifies the ones title when the said person has satisfactory proven his or her claimed interest in the property. It must be noted that Title is not gained by registering at the Lands Commission but through legitimate means of acquisition.
Title insecurity occurs where a person’s claim of interest is easily loss to another legally or illegally. Such has been the case in some urban areas in Ghana where people who have been in interrupted possession of their properties for several years wake up one day to see that someone is claiming ownership of the same land. Some have had to pay for their lands several times to different people, families or stools who claim ownership of the same land. Often, the adverse claimants obtain judgements or renders the place unhabitable until the person who may be in possession or receive payments from them. The resulting effect is people loss their lifetime investments, become homeless and become, lock the capital in projects and become indebted because they may have to borrow to pay to secure their title to the land.
- Fraud: It is a know fact that most people do not know the technicalities involved in acquiring lands and real property. This has made it easy for criminals to use it as a means of defrauding their unsuspecting buyers. It may be in the form selling or letting land/ properties they do not own, selling way above the required amount, misrepresenting the facts and ownerships information on the property, fraudulent documentation, and many others. Fraud in real estate transactions are so common these days that you need to be very careful when dealing with supposed sellers of lands. You always need to properly identify the seller, his or claim of the interest being sold and have a means to trace him or her when you need to. Never allow yourself to be rushed when you are doing a real estate transaction and be sure to have satisfied yourself without any iota of doubt. When you are being rushed, be careful. You can employ the checklist as was discussed in my previous series to be sure that you have eliminated any possibility of fraud before you part with money.
- Encroachments: Where people intrude in one’s ownership of property illegitimately, it is deemed to be encroachment. It usually occurs when the intruder occupies part or all portions of another person’s land without the owner’s consent. Some may build walls or make improvements that extend beyond their boundaries. Once encroachment is noticed, you are advised to immediately put the encroacher on notice, take possession of the affected to avoid further encroachments. When looked over, the intruder may become an adverse claimant of the affected portion which may result in unending litigation.
These, among others are some of the general indiscipline activities that have characterised our land market which proves how weak land administration has been over the years. In fact, this has contributed tremendously to poverty, under-development, and threat to national security in the country. The issue of Land guards still persist even after the passing of the law against vigilantism and land guards.
In our next episode, we will discuss the negative effects of these acts on our socio-economic development and how we need to collectively find solutions to this problem.