Thursday, December 29, 2016

Leasehold vs. Freehold Lands in Ghana

As a homeowner or landowner, has it ever crossed your mind that your property may one day be taken away from you because your contract has expired? A lot of land or home owners are unaware of the various forms of ownership that exist in Ghana. They did not know (and still, may not know) that buying a property could make them outright owners or tenants whether it is purchased from an estate company or an individual.

 Lands in Ghana are usually owned by the government, stool, or families or clans. Lands belonging to the government are either vested or state lands. The government controls these properties and managed by the Lands Commission. Stool lands are under the custodian of chiefs or traditional rulers while a family owns family lands and administered by the family head. Thus, these represent the types of land that exist in Ghana.

 In Ghana, you can own a land either through buying or inheritance. The most popular approach to owning a land in Ghana especially in the urban areas is through buying. With the expansion of the real estate industry and high demand for accommodation, many people are rushing to invest in lands and houses. However, what some prospective property owners and even individual landowners are not aware of is the fact that, in Ghana, purchasing a land does not make you the outright owner of that property.

Lands in Ghana are sold as leaseholds as opposed to freeholds. Leasehold interest is a temporary right to occupy a land or property, while freehold interest is the outright ownership of a land or property for an unlimited period. The lease is for a fixed term, but with freehold, the landowner is the custodian of the land till eternity. A lease is a legal document based on property and contractual law which spells out the rights and obligations of both the Landlord (Lessor) and Tenant (Lessee).

 The period for most leases in Ghana is 99 years or more for locals and 50 years for foreigners. After the 99 years has expired, the land must be returned to the lessor unless the contract is renewed. People who are aware of this practice usually think that 99 years is too long a time for anybody to worry about returning a property or renewing a contract. Others too have not thought about what will happen after the 99years contract is over.
  colour styles for Houses

Thus, as a potential property owner, you need to know that it is almost impossible to buy a land or a house as a freehold in Ghana. Therefore, you need to find out about the number of years left on a lease before you commit to buying a property. This is important because it can affect getting a mortgage or the resale value of the property. On the other hand, if you are a house owner already who purchased a leasehold property, you need to prepare for the future just to prevent any long legal battle between your successor(s) and that of the person who sold the land to you.

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