When we get to the deeds and rights of occupancy topics of our women’s legal rights training we always ask our participants, "who has a title deed?" We commonly receive one of two responses.
Many participants say yes, they have a deed. However in most cases this is a contract and does not actually prove ownership of land. Other participants say no, but have been told verbally by their husbands, or others that they own land. Again, this is insufficient to prove ownership of land.
A deed is an official legal document that explicitly states who is the owner of a piece of land. Holding a deed gives you undeniable proof of ownership in a land dispute. This is of particular importance when women are widowed and risk losing their inheritance or ownership of property that might be in their husband’s name.
There are a number of steps women can take now to protect their property and right to inheritance.
To establish ownership of land one can obtain
Granted rights of occupancy: obtained by applying to the Commissioner of Lands
Customary rights of occupancy: obtained by applying to the Village Council
The Village Land Act states that both customary and granted rights shall be given equal status and weight in court, so neither type of right is more powerful than the other.
The Village Land Act also specifies that the Village Council must give equal consideration to the applications of men and women, and they cannot discriminate against women who apply for customary rights of occupancy.
Both granted and customary rights of occupancy require specific applications. If you need help lodging an application or want to find out more information about title deeds contact us today.