How to Acquire and Register a Land in Ghana

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Acquiring lands in Ghana is something that involves a lot. Without experience, therefore, one is likely to get into several problems. Many people who have bought lands without any experience have either lost it or have had to fight for it in court.  Since we would always need lands for agricultural or building or leasing purposes, it is necessary to find out the right way of acquiring and registering lands in Ghana.

Before we delve into the process and procedures for purchasing land in Ghana, let us update ourselves with the various forms of interest that exist over land and persons they are vested in.

Land Ownership in Ghana

    1. STOOL/ SKIN LANDS: These are lands under the custodianship of various chiefs
    2. INDIVIDUAL/PRIVATE LANDS: These are lands owned by individuals and private entities.
    3. FAMILY LANDS: These are lands managed by Heads of families assisted by principal members of the families.
    4. STATE AND STOOL VESTED LANDS: These are lands managed by the Lands Commission

Types of Interest in Land

A Legal interest in a land refers to the legally enforceable right to possess or use property.  When acquiring a land, it is necessary to find out the period within which you can use it to avoid future problems. These are some types of land interests:

The Allodial Title

The allodial title is the highest title in land recognized by law. Only traditional leaders, families or the Ghanaian government can hold such a title. It has an absolute interest meaning it does not expire.

Freehold Title

There are two forms of freehold title interest:

  • Customary freehold: This is an interest that individuals or groups hold in a land, which is owned by a larger traditional community – the allodial owner –  of which the interest holders are members or subjects. It is an interest that is transferrable to successors of the individual or subgroups until there are no successors.
  • Common law freehold – Common law freehold is similar to the customary freehold. The difference, however, is that this interest can be acquired by both strangers and members of the community that owns the land. A stranger in this regard refers to a Ghanaian who is not a member of the land-owning community. It is important to note that the 1992 Constitution by article 267 (5) forbids the creation of freehold interests in stool land in Ghana.

Leasehold

A leasehold/lease is an interest in land that has a specified start and end for a period, subject to payment of annual ground rents and covenants. It usually expires from 50 to 99 years.

Tenancy

They are created under contractual, share-cropping or other customary tenancy arrangements. Two very common tenancies in the Akan areas are “Abunu” where the land is acquired from the owner and “Abusa” or “do ma yenkye”, where farm proceeds are divided into two- thirds between the farmer and the landowner. Other areas have different names for these arrangements in the local dialects.

Licensing

Someone may acquire a land but not acquire it absolutely. A licence to operate is usually given to him/her temporally. These include lands near highways etc. Since we know there would be future developments in such areas, those lands are not sold absolutely, a license is given out for temporal use. This means that one does not have to put up a well-structured building on it. They usually last for three or five years.

Acquisition of Land

To acquire the land, it would be necessary to determine what you are going to use the land for be it for residential or commercial properties or agricultural purposes or recreational purposes. This would help determine the kind of land to acquire. You can acquire land through the following:

CHIEFS: This is predominant in the Ashanti Region. You acquire the land from the chief and he gives you an acquisition note and the site plan (Plan of the land you are acquiring.)

INDIVIDUALS: Here, you acquire the land from a private individual who may have acquired the land from someone else or from a