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Talking Property Law with Gerald Mukomondo; Property Ownership

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Talking Property Law with Gerald Mukomondo; Property Ownership


Gerald Mukomondo

Introduction; Property ownership is the ultimate title that gives exclusive rights over immovable property which are enforceable against the whole world. Whether you want to hold a property for self-use, income generation or just storing wealth it is most secure when that property belongs to you. Title deeds are the only symbol of exclusive ownership of a property. As I mentioned in the previous articles, property held under tittle deeds is more secure, economically valuable and investor friendly. In this article we will outline how one gets private ownership of a property.

Deed of grant
Before we can talk of freehold title it is important to understand the origins of such tittle. Earlier in this series of articles I reiterated that all land that is not held under freehold title belongs to the state either by vesting or by being outright state land. When such land is now bequeathed to private ownership by the government, the government then issues what is known as a deed of grant. A deed of grant can be for grant of land to a local authority, a land developing corporation, cooperative or an individual.
Even though it is not exclusively meant for subdivision into residential stands the majority of land issued out by government in urban areas is eventually subdivided into residential stands. When a local authority or a land developing entity receives land from government such land is subdivided into stands and then sold to individuals through cession or other purchase agreements. The deed of grant is often referred to as the parent deed, holding deed or mother deed. It is simply the first registered tittle over a piece of land. When the purchaser or beneficiary fulfils the requirements of the sale contract, they can now apply for title deeds from the Deeds Registries Office.
Deed of transfer
This form of deed also commonly known as a Tittle Deed is used by a Conveyancing Lawyer to transfer a property from one person to another. A conveyancer can transfer property from a selling entity like the Local Authority, Land Developer or any individual to a purchasing or benefiting individual, corporate, partnership or trust to mention just but a few. The circumstances leading to the transfer are normally noted on the deed to show the origin and track of the property, for example properties transferred as inheritance, donations or cessions are noted as such.
Whether its property transferred at the conclusion of a sale agreement, a cession, an inheritance, distribution of deceased estate, a donation, a court order or any other cause it is done through a deed of transfer as long as it is between private parties. The long and short of it is that any form of transfer of real rights or private ownership of a property between private legal personas is done through a deed of transfer. A deed of transfer is proof of immovable property ownership. I will deal with the requirements and contents of a title deed/deed of transfer in the near future.
Sectional titles
While a tittle deed/deed of transfer is usually used to hold land and stand alone structures a sectional title is a special form of ownership held through a notarial deed that confers to the holder an exclusive ownership of a portion of the bigger property. This is common with urban multi-level buildings, flats and industrial workshop areas. A sectional title is registered as a condition against the parent deed of the bigger property. It is usually accompanied by an undivided share.
There are other ways of owning immovable property such as by owning shares in a company that owns such immovable property. This is common with corporates involved in real estate as a business or simply shelf companies used to hold immovable property. However it remains a fact that such property is owned through a title deed since the holding company is a private party. I will elaborate further on this when I will discuss on ways of holding property.
I have also left out offer letters, 99 year leases, local authority leases and permits because they are not used as proof of ownership of property but as proof of possession and occupation of immovable property.

As we have noted, the majority of immovable property belongs to the state either by vesting or by being outright state land. In order for that land to be passed to private ownership it is done through a deed of grant. A deed of grant signifies initial private title over immovable property. After a deed of grant then comes a deed of transfer which is used to exchange property ownership between private parties. There are several circumstances which can require transfer of title between private parties. Apart from tittle deeds/deed of transfer property ownership can also be by way of sectional title. A sectional title is a condition registered against a tittle deed hence it still remains as exclusive as a title deed.
This article is a successive part of a simplified series of an outline and discussion of property law. Join me in the next column when I will be talking about the deed of transfer/tittle deed in detail.

Mr. Gerald Mukomondo is a registered Legal Practitioner and a judicious researcher with interests in commercial law. He writes in his personal capacity. The content of his articles should not be taken as legal advice.
He is contactable via 0717 320 985 / @ [email protected]

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