Customary Tenure is where land is owned based on the norms and traditions of a given society or community. The systems vary from one place to another. Some communities allocate individual plots to their members, with known and defined boundaries marked by ridges, trenches, trees etc. whereas pastoralist communities tend to manage the land on a communal basis.
Individual customary land; is where an individual is said to ‘own’ land because the land was allocated to them, to use or own permanently, or they inherited the land, or purchased the customary land as an individual. This will include the right to allocate potions of the land to the next generation.
Under the Uganda Constitution and the Land Act, customary tenure is recognised on a par with freehold and Mailo. Under this type of tenure, people own or have the rights to use land, but they do not have land titles.
Access to customary land is generally administered by different types of customary land tenure institutions in which kinship is important. Land is often administered by extended family linkages. For this reason, land is often subject to restrictions on transfers outside the family and the clan. However, this practice is seemingly not enough to guarantee tenure security to Ugandans. The Land (Amendment) Act 2010 was passed as a way to address widespread evictions related to land grabbing of customary and mailo land and, thus, to enhance tenure security
Approximately 70% of the available land of Uganda is administered as customary land leaving only a smaller portion of Ugandan land owners possessing an actual land title. In 1995, Uganda created a legal framework for the registration of the prevailing customary land tenure. Legislation and policies have since been put in place promoting official land titles and modernizing land law for customary ownership and land governance.
Uganda’s land reform was introduced with the 1998 Land Act which aims at enhancing tenure security by recognising existing rights to land. It also aims at bringing land onto the market. However, the reform’s implementation has been slow and partial so far.
In 2015, the government of Uganda introduced Certificates of Customary Ownership (CCOs) for owners of customary land. A customary land owner can apply for a CCO as proof of ownership of the land to further protect his or her claim. As of 2020 this tenure it is still the most common form of land holding in the country.
Buying Customary Land in Uganda
If you are looking to buy land in Jinja, Busoga or anywhere in Uganda, and you have to purchase through customary tenure, this is done under the native law and custom of the people where the land is located basing on their customs. Customary land purchase is legally accepted.
The duties of the purchaser or seller are recognised in addition to levies of the villagers, tribe and ethnic group where the land is situated. The Transaction or Purchase is done in broad day light before selected and concerned persons.
The buyer is expected to invite his people likewise the seller to witness such transaction, and so the land transaction can be documented,
Documentation of the Land Transaction in Uganda
1. Have an agreement in writing for any transaction (buying, selling, donating or bequeathing) on Land.
2. Ensure that the right persons in law i.e an adult who hold interest in that land sign the agreement.
3. Ensure that you have copies of the original agreement, plus Copies of National Identifications of Sellers
4. All parties (buyers and sellers) must sign on all pages of the agreement.
5. Where either the buyer or seller of the land is an illiterate, the person writing the agreement for or on behalf of the illiterate must indicate his or her full name and address as the writer of that document otherwise he or she commits an offence. Courts have strictly observed the same.
Contents of a Good Land Agreement in Uganda.
1. Names and signature of parties to the land; the buyer and the seller has to append their signature and names to the agreement. All parties must sign on each page.
2. Names and signature of the witnesses; the persons who can witness and testify to sale has to be present when the sale is being concluded and append their signatures on the agreement. Witnesses must witness on each page.
3. Land location; where the land is located, the village, parish, division sub-county, county, and district where applicable.
4. Land size; state in both words and figures
5. Describe what is on the Land; this entails what is on the land, e.g. houses, trees, crops, etc. and state whether they form part of the land being sold.
6. Date of the sale.
7. Boundaries and neighbours to the land being sold.
8. State the nature or system under which the land is held whether customary, freehold, or mailo tenure.
9. State the amount of the sale in figures and words or any other means under which the land is being transacted (consideration)
10. Certificate of translation where either or both of the parties are illiterate.
11. Finally, if the land is a gift, indicate it