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LAA addresses ground rent concerns

By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – With the reigning widespread confusion regarding land dispensation in Lesotho, the Land administration Authority (LAA) recently hosted a two day seminar to educate and address Lesotho’s land issues on a wider scope.

With a panel comprising of various experts in relatable fields such as the legal sector, and town & country planning  among others present, also in the background of the implementation of the controversial ground rent designed to enforce land owners to pay “ a charge” for the usage of their privately owned land –  the land administration body took time to  clarify the land regulation system utilized in Lesotho and addressed other land related issues like land sales, land transfers, inheritance and land surveys.

The LAA clarified that ground rent was compulsory due to the type of land regulation system utilized  in Lesotho and applicable to all citizens, but the charge is however not applicable to one’s primary  residence, but to a secondary and other additional residences, in the case of someone owning multiple residences.

Speaking at the Seminar Mr L. Mosae, who spoke vehemently about the Security of tenure and the Land Tenure System, which is used in the regulation and distribution of land in Lesotho, explained that in light of citizens being distraught over introduction of certain charges related to the use of Land in Lesotho, it was important to know that globally exists two forms of Land ownerships which regulate the use of Land to citizens.

The two global land regulation systems namely – the free hold system and the leasehold system. The Freehold system which is mostly used by European countries gives and enables people ownership of private property which is permanent for them, and with the entitlement to dispose it as they wish.

In contrast the leasehold system is one which advocates the land belonging to the people of a specific country, and stipulates that no one is entitled to own private property. Anyone given permission to use the land in this system thus pays to use it. The kingdom of Lesotho uses the leasehold system, so in very simple terms Land in Lesotho belongs to no one but the Basotho nation. This articulates that anyone who has ever purchased land in Lesotho is in actual fact a tenant on their own land.

“The systems we use within the Land tenure system consists of the Chiefs, the councils, previously passed laws and so forth until they reach the LAA. To attain land in Lesotho one needs to obtain a lease form which in turn guarantees one security of tenure”, he said.

Furthermore it was stated that in order to register land under ones ownership, upon obtaining a lease form, a registered professional surveyor is needed to survey the piece of land in question and verify its coordinates.  After the surveyor doing their part the land should then be registered by the Land registrar then the owner will have what is known as a real right.

“The real right affirms that a particular individual has the right to enforce his or her rights on the said property, and by law ensures they have a right of ownership over the land. It is an uncontested right.”

At such a stage for an individual intending to use the land as a personal residence, would be given a 90 year lease, while one intending to use land for commercial purposes one would be afforded a 60 year lease and 30 years for petrol stations respectively.

In addition Mr Phello Ramotubehi, from the department of Land Survey and Physical Planning said in addressing the issue of land survey what they aimed to do was ensure that all the sites were measured accordingly in terms of their lengths and widths. He said it was important to note that only professional licensed surveyors were permitted to carry out the job.

“Not everybody is permitted to carryout land surveys, so to avoid the disappointment of using the wrong people and getting unfavourable outcomes, it is important to ensure your procured surveyor has a licence from the Ministers Licensing Board, in accordance with the Land Survey Amendment Act of 2019.

“With regards to people who possess Land Survey qualifications, it isn’t enough for them to just carry out the job because in order to carry out proper land surveys one needs extensive experience. In my knowledge to date in Lesotho there’s currently no Institution providing a qualification in Land Surveying,” he said.

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