1. Property Rights – Very Weak
1.1 Legal Protection
1.2 Registries
1.3 Formal Ownership
In-Country Assessment Information


1. Property Rights – Very Weak

Goal – Property rights that are legally protected, secure, recorded in a single, accurate, widely accessible electronic registry and that lead to high levels of formal ownership for all citizens

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1.1 Legal Protection


Core Question:  Does an effective and sufficient legal framework exist to protect property rights for all citizens? No – Weak, . Final Draft of the National Land Use Policy issued in March 2011.


Legal Framework

1.1.1   Are property rights clearly defined and protected by law? No –  Weak – Ranking  80th out of  144; Score  4.1 out of 7


Security of Tenure

1.1.2   Can citizens challenge the legality of government takings? No – Weak –  59th out of  144; Score  3.9 out of 7

Source: Global Competitiveness Report  2012-2013– World Economic Forum


Bundle of Rights

Survey Question

SQ1    What is the bundle of rights (group of rights such as occupancy, use and the right to sell or lease) associated with both residential and commercial property ownership? Weak –freehold, leasehold, customary and mailo (old British feudal system never fully abolished); multiple land tenure systems lead to inconsistency and confusion.


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1.2 Registries

Core Question: Does a reliable property registry exist including cadastral, title and mortgage lien information? No – Very Weak, most land in Uganda has never been demarcated or surveyed and has no documentary evidence to support ownership claims.

1.2.1  Cadastral Information

Status – Weak – Land Information System is currently being converted from manual operations.


Survey Questions

SQ 2   Is cadastral information (information about the dimensions and location of land parcels) accessible to the public? No

SQ 3   Is zoning/permitted use information included are use regulations respected and enforced? No

SQ 4   Are Geographic Information Systems (GIS) including Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) information used to create and update the registry? Yes, new GIS system launched in May 2006.

Source: Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development –  

Civil Society Resource: Institution of Surveyors of Uganda


1.2.2  Title Registry

 Weak – Ranking –  124th out of  185 Trend  What is the number of procedures required to register the transfer of a property from one owner to another?  12   What is the duration of time in calendar days that it would take to complete the transfer?  52   What is the total cost of the transfer including all fees, taxes, etc. expressed as a percentage of the value of the property?  1.9%

Source – Doing Business 2013– Registering Property, World Bank

1.2.3  Mortgage Registry

Status –Very Weak

Survey Questions

SQ 5   The mandatory use of notaries or similar officials slows down and adds cost to the process. Does a notary need to be involved in the registration process? Yes

SQ 6   Is information in the registry available electronically? No

SQ 7   Title insurance is indemnity insurance against financial loss from defects in title and from the invalidity or unenforceability of mortgage liens. Is title insurance available to lenders? No

Source – Financing Homes 2008, World Bank and International Housing Finance Corporation



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1.3 Formal Ownership

Core Question:  Do citizens understand and trust property rights institutions and avoid the informal sector? No – Very Weak – Only 18% of land owners have registered titles or certificates of ownership.

Survey Questions

1.3.1 Land

SQ 8   What is the status of land ownership?  Very Weak – poor land use planning practices have led to inappropriate decisions in the allocation of land use resulting in land degradation, pollution, uncontrolled urban development, conflicts over land use and reduced land productivity.


Source: Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development – 

Civil Society Resource: Institution of Surveyors of Uganda


1.3.2 Home Ownership

SQ 9   What is the percentage of formal home ownership? 28% – Very Weak, 70% of the population does not have access to housing finance; over 60% of Kamala’s residents live in slums.

Source: Access to Housing Finance in Africa: Uganda, FinMark Trust


1.3.3 Informal Sector

SQ 10  What is the percentage of service firms that report competition with unregistered or informal firms  73.1% – Very Weak Formal Sector ( 2006)

Source:  Enterprise Surveys



In-Country Assessment Information

Field Question (FQ) 1. What is the actual status of property rights and ownership for citizens?

Laws relating to land management and administration are weak and outdated. In addition, land is subject to different uses and thus its management falls under different sector institutions that have limited human and financial resources. Furthermore, decentralization has introduced new institutions aimed at improving service delivery at grassroots level, but these are beset with weak implementation due to lack of adequate professional expertise, as well as poor coordination between central and local Governments. Inadequate sector coordination has also had negative impact on land use, just as weak inter-sector and district coordination has resulted in contradictory land use patterns.


FQ 2.  What is the actual experience of transferring a property?


There is lack of awareness by the majority of people both in urban and rural areas of the laws governing land use and management. In addition, there is resistance and non-adherence to existing control laws and regulations. The principal laws currently in force are the Land Act 1998 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1964, the Survey Act 1964, and the Registration of Titles Act 1964. The principle enshrined in the Act enables bona fide and lawful occupants to obtain legal interests in the registered land they occupy. However, this has not been implemented due to:

Resistance of the registered owners against what they consider to be expropriation of their property rights and interests

Lack of understanding by both the bona fide and lawful occupants who are not aware of the present provisions and still think they are at the mercy of the registered owners

Inadequate capacity in the relevant institutions such as the Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment, District Land Boards, District Land Offices, District land tribunals and land committees

Lack of sufficient funds under the Land Fund to enable bona fide and lawful occupants purchase reversionary interests from the registered owners

Certain aspects of the Land Act have not been implemented due to large resource implications.



FQ 3. What are the actual housing conditions for all groups including the poor, minorities and other marginalized groups?

Government will ensure that women, youth, the poor, the disabled and other disadvantaged groups will receive equal treatment as the rest of the citizens of this country. In particular, Government will ensure adequate and effective integration of gender concerns in all programs geared towards the implementation of this policy. The issues to consider will include the following:

Security of tenure especially for women, the poor and the disabled

Encourage participation of women and youth in land use decision-making, especially where they are directly or indirectly affected.

Promote positive changes in cultures and attitudes to support sustainable land use, equitable distribution and sharing of benefits.

Develop programs to improve skills of the poor so that they can make a gainful living from their land.

Marginalized groups of people are more likely to use land unsustainably and should therefore be given special attention.  There will be no discrimination against people living with debilitating illnesses.

Source: National Land Use Policy, Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development – 



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