Land in Ghana has seen increasingly high levels of demand due to the growing population. Locals and expatriates alike aspire to stake a share in Ghana’s lands in order to serve either as a foundation for a home or for other commercial purposes.
As the demand, so are the risks and challenges. We know that acquiring land can be a daunting, frustrating, and thankless task, but here are a few things you need to do in order to acquire land safely in Ghana.
- Do due diligence
Before buying a piece of land, you have to make inquiries and checks. According to the Lands Commission, there is no standard procedure in acquiring land in Ghana. This raises the risk of buying a disputed piece of land, and if this happens, the best-case scenario is to take the matter up in court, which could drag on for years. The onus is therefore on you to check for any fraudulent behaviour from the seller. A case in point is a seller who demands payment for a cadastral plan, which should not be the case.
- Search process
After doing background checks on the seller, you also need to check with the Lands Commission to verify whether the land actually belongs to that individual or group. This process usually takes a minimum of two weeks and, considering the length of time it can take for a court process; this one is worth the wait.
- Obtain a cadastral plan
You need to establish the area you want to acquire the land from, find a set location, and have the seller provide you with a cadastral or site plan prepared by a licensed surveyor which shows the precise location and coordinates of the land. This site plan helps prevent ownership disputes with land guards as the Lands Commission keeps copies in their office.
- Hire an independent surveyor
The cadastral plan is a strong indicator of land availability but not a guarantee. Hiring an independent surveyor to cross-check the land against the site plan is a move in the right direction as it reduces the risk of disputes.
- All lands are sold as leasehold
Prospective buyers need to note that buying land in Ghana can only be done as a lease-hold and not a freehold agreement. A freehold can be described as a life estate; meaning the land is the eternal property of the owner. A lease-hold, on the other hand, is a property that can be sold for a limited duration. In Ghana, the maximum ownership duration for expats is 50 years while for locals, it is 99 years.
- Draft and sign a purchase and transfer agreement
Before making payment, make sure to draft a purchase and transfer agreement endorsed by you and the seller. It would help to have a lawyer assist you in drafting such an agreement to protect your interest.
- Register with Lands Commission
Ensure that you inform the Lands Commission about the transaction and apply for a transfer and registration of the land. The Lands Commission will provide you with a title certificate and cadastral plan at a later date.
A cadastral plan
Credit: Fidel Amoah