In Uganda land ownership is organized in a system with different categories. Each category has it’s own features that influences how you can use the land and what you need to do in order to play by the rules. This system is termed as Land Tenure System in Uganda.

Land tenure system simply looks at how land ownership is categorized. For you to have ownership of land, there must be a category you fall in. This is historical from the times of colonialism, depending on how land was divided.

Types of Land Tenure System in Uganda

There are 5 types of land in the Land Tenure System, below we’ll look at the main differences between them.

  1. Mailo Land:

This is a land that is owned in the interests of the institutional levels like Kingdoms, Churches. For example, if you are a sitting tenant of a Church or Kingdom land, and you own the interest to develop a big land from Buganda Kingdom, then you own a Private mailo Land. A Private mailo is almost equivalent to a Freehold. A private mailo land belongs to an individual(landowner) and it can be sold, subdivided or transmitted

2. Freehold

Freehold is what you own in perpetuity. It is not owned by the state neither by any institution instead it is there that you own a title indicating that the land belongs to you. However, when you buy land from a Kingdom or a Church, and you pay them for you to have land without paying ground rent over a period of time, then you have a Private mailo title.

3. Leasehold

This is where you own land but you still have to pay interests also known as ground rent to the KCCA(State), or the Kingdom. In this case the Kingdom will hold a mailo title but lease some of its land to subjects. Those subjects who have money and they buy the interests own of the Kingdom, they go to Private mailo Land. Understand, it is a bit complex but it has a historical attachment on how our country was formed and how all these interests of kingdoms, churches, government were interacting at that time.
4. Customary

This is land that in the beginning has not been inherited generations in the family. For example, you are born, having parents on a land that is generally untitled. And that is how it is for the whole community. Land is owned by families. When their children could grow up, the parents could assign them where to build or cultivate. They do not have land titles nor the agreements. Customary land is that land owned by default, when you are born in that family owning land.

However, nowadays it was formalized and you can have a customary title.

5. Communal Land System

Communal Land is more common in rural areas like Northern Uganda where agriculture is a larger part of the economy. In the Communal Land System a village or tribe owns the land and it’s not owned by an individual. In this system there are chiefs with a chiefdom that decide who can use a particular piece of land and how.

Recommendation in Choosing the best Land Tenure System

Private mailo and Freehold.

Because there, a developer will own the land and transact on it freely without any other interests that you have to compensate with on a monthly or yearly basis. The other land systems have many other interests attached to them. For example, if it is mailo land, you are obliged to pay ground rent to the title owner, same thing with lease. If it is customary, you are dealing with your family or the whole clan. Even if your father has given you land, you may not have to sell it easily because it is a family property.

Impact of Land Tenure System on the State and the Public.

The whole idea is that the custodian of all this Land Tenure System is the Ministry of Lands and Urban development entrusted by the Government of Uganda. So, the interaction between the public and the ministry of Lands must be very cordial in a way that;

 the Ministry of Lands must be able to disseminate information for the public to understand these systems

The public must come to the ministry of Lands to ensure that when they want to formalize these Land Tenure Systems they are helped but also, they underlying factor is the government generates revenues through all these transfers of titles and ownership by paying some duty of which government uses that money to run government programs.

Also to note, the biggest responsibility is that the government holds trust on behalf of the public in ownership of all land that belongs to Uganda because it has the oversight roles. However, the government also has the overall powers in case they want to do any public infrastructure to relocate and allocate the public in order to free way for any developments that are beneficial to Ugandans.

Impact of Land Tenure System on Real Estate Sector.

In this case, the challenge would be; understanding the Land Tenure System, being able to differentiate it. There is a need of transparency in this whole thing as it is very crucial. For the real estate developer or any investor must be sure that the issue of Land Tenure System is secure. That if you hold any land title whether private or mailo or any other, it should be protected.
Investors and/or owners need to be sure that a ownership title is genuine and that they understand what they can and can’t do with that piece of land

It should not be found that two or more people own the same title. It should not be found somewhere that there are duplicate or forged titles. A property is built on land, and the property can not be carried away in case contradictions on the land title. The security of tenure is very crucial for investor confidence.

That means that if there are any issues in Land Tenure System it affects the real estate sector directly because now people will choose to rent than to build or invest. But if you have a very strong and streamlined system, then you will have investors who are willing to borrow money from the bank using the land titles as collateral because they are guaranteed that the title shall not be challenged.

When you are going to buy/invest in land, you need to understand these systems how the land Tenure System works so that you are aware with the due diligence and also when you are opening the boundaries, bringing surveyors on site or anyone else, we know what we are dealing with. For any one who wants to be the landlord, should do thorough research. Secondly, before doing any transactions you always contact the law authorities, the neighbors that are within that area so that you know the right ownership for that particular land before any purchases.

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