A Senior Lands Administration Officer at the Lands Commission, Pearl Rockson, has revealed that land owners automatically lose ownership of their lands after 12-years of abandonment.
The Lands Administrator stressed that by law, a squatter can claim ownership of one’s land after staying on it for 12-years; a situation she described as ‘adverse possession’.
She, therefore, cautioned land owners to be weary of abandoning their lands or risk losing it.
Madam Pearl Rockson made the disclosure in an interview on Angel FM’s Anopa Bofo Morning Show on Thursday, October 28, 2021, while discussing Land Registration and Acquisition in Ghana.
Speaking in the Twi parlance, she said that if you have a land and you allow a squatter to continuously live on it for 12-years without any protest from the owner, the laws of Ghana give the squatter the option to adversely possess the land and claim ownership.
She equally added that per the Limitations Act, any land owner who doesn’t exercise acts of possession – visiting the land frequently, or productively using the land – for a period of seven years can be deemed to have abandoned the land.
Abandoned property refers to any personal property left by an owner who has intentionally relinquished all rights to its control. When property is intentionally abandoned, it belongs to no one until it is found.
She noted that people usually ‘abandon’ their lands because they intend to build a dream home or make a massive investment on their newly acquired lands which they don’t have funds for immediately.
She explained that in order to avoid the potential ‘injustice’ of squatters obtaining ownership via adverse possession, land owners must exercise their right of ownership by practicing acts of possession.
You can do anything to show that you have not abandoned your property such as renting the land, cultivating crops or building a small structure on it until one is ready to fully invest, she counselled.
Speaking further, Madam Rockson told host Kofi Adoma Nwanwani that the key challenges confronting the Lands Commission has to do with land registration.
People don’t do due diligence when acquiring or buying a land and this leads to multiple sale amidst other problems, she complained.
In her view, people should consult the commission’s Client Service Access Unit and speak to people on the ground before initiating the process to purchase a land.
Meanwhile, some audiences of the Anopa Bofo show expressed shock about losing their lands to squatters and called for a review of the Lands Act in that regard.
“This Law is not good koraa, they must do something about it”, a listener exclaimed.