Fraud in Land Transactions: What to look out for before buying that land


There is a lot of fraud in land transactions as people buy “air” ( nonexistent land). Some sellers do not get paid, some buyers are given false land titles, some buy land from people who are not owners. Some buy land with a lot of conflicts and ownership issues.

“Land are not vegetable that are bought from unknown sellers. Land are valuable properties and buyers are expected to make thorough investigations; not only on the land but of the sellers before purchase.” Justice Okello (as he then was) stated in the case of Sir John Bageire Vs Ausi Matovu CACA No 07 of 1996.

Today we shall give you a detailed guide on how to buy land in a legit clean way. You have to follow the following steps in purchasing land.

  1. Conducting a search at the land Registry:

One has to write a written formal letter to the Commissioner of Land Registration requesting for a search on the land they intend to buy. This is to ensure that the land has no encumbrances or disputes.

One will be provided with a search report showing the details of the land. When writing the letter, one has to specify the details of the land, location, as specified in the land title.

It is only registered land with a certificate of title (land title) that can be searched at the registry. The search report will specify and state the previous owners, current owners and whether the land has been mortgaged or leased, or has any disputes.

It is through a search report that you get to know the true owners of the land. A search is done at a small prescribed fee.

2. Physical Visit of the Land:

The purpose of the visit is to make inquiries regarding the land and warrants your inquiry prior to the transaction. You get to ask owners of the adjacent land, neighbors to the land and from the LC1 chairperson as to whether the land has any conflicts.

Also boundary openings have to be done by measuring and establishing the physical boundaries and ascertaining if they are the same and exact ones as stated in the search report. Also one has to find out if there are any developments on the land.

3. Conducting a survey:

This is done at the request of the Commissioner for lands or the Registrar at the cost of the applicant, this is to ascertain the boundaries and measurements of the size of the land. This may be optional.

4. Ascertain the vendors:

One has to request for the National Identity Card, Passport size photos, valid driver’s license and then compare the names on the identity cards to the names found during the search if indeed they are the actual owners of the land.


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5. NEMA  Approval.

Write a letter to NEMA requesting for their approval of use of the land. This may apply to lands in wetlands, and near forests or National parks.

6. Spousal Consent.

If the vendor of the land is married, there is a high possibility of the land being marital property; then there will be need for written and signed consent from the spouse.

7. After ascertaining all the above, one can go ahead, buy the land but make sure the vendor signs a detailed land sale agreement specifying the terms of payment, the currency to be used, whether it will be paid in lump sum or in installments.

8. Use the sale agreement, vendor`s national ID, let him sign. Go ahead and process your land title. (certificate of title)


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