Did you know that the government can take your legal land even if you have a legal title deed? Yes, through a process known as compulsory land acquisition. This is where the government obtains private property from an individual or a business entity for use in activities of public interest. There are several reasons and circumstances when your property can go through this. Some of the reasons include:
- The need to construct a new road or expand an existing one. Others are a railway line, a dam, sewer system, or installation of a power line, etc.
- Excavating activities underneath the property.
- For purposes of protection against flooding.
- To protect streams of water.
- To protect forest areas.
There are two main types of compulsory acquisition of property.
- The first one is a permanent or complete acquisition. This is where the property owners give up all rights and interests of the entire property. For example, the owner gives up the entire land and all the developments in it.
- The other type is a sectional acquisition where the owner gives up only a section of the land. This mostly happens in case only a small area of the land. Some activities include the expansion of a road, drainage system, power line, or access road.
Effects of compulsory land acquisition
There are several problems associated with these activities. They include and are not limited to:
1. Instances of corruption and the abuse of power
At times the process may not be transparent and this leads to injustices during compensation. This is a result of political interests and the landowners end up suffering.
2. Delay in implementation of projects
In some cases, landowners appeal during the process of acquisition. This leads to delay in projects and also increased costs due to court cases.
3. Insufficient compensation paid to owners
When land is acquired sometimes the owners are not compensated fully in terms of emotional attachments and comfort they had with the property. Also, the social and cultural relationships created while residing in the property are not fully compensated.
4. Skyrocketing land prices
This happens as investors rush to buy land in prime areas. This is done with the thought that they can make a kill by selling the land back to the government at exaggerated land prices.
Factors to consider during compulsory land acquisition
Several factors are taken into consideration during compensation. Every aspect of the property is put into consideration.
1. Land itself
This is basically the current value of the land in exact size and location. The government valuer together with the landowner appointed valuer usually appraises the land. This helps determine the exact value to be paid.
2. Improvements to the land
This is anything done on the land such as developed structures, crops, trees, fences, drilled well, or boreholes. The value is calculated and compensated accordingly.
3. The value of any financial advantage other than market value
This is what the person may have enjoyed by owning or occupying the land in question.
4. Expenses during the whole process
They include legal or professional costs that the property owner incurs. Also, the cost of moving and costs of acquiring alternative accommodation. In some cases, the owner is required to reorganize his activities that were previously done on the land such as farming, etc.
5. Compensation for the loss in value of their property and other items
This is as a result of this acquisition. This includes loss of earnings if it was a business and any damages that may be incurred. Interest on unpaid compensation from the date of possession is usually paid in case there was a delay in the disbursement of funds.
Circumstances when your land will not receive compensation
There are many circumstances when a landowner may not be compensated for compulsory acquisition of their land. The two main reasons are:
- Cases of land grabbing.
- Encroaching land which belongs to the government.
In these two cases, the government repossesses the land without compensating owners.
Procedure for compulsory land acquisition
Here is the process of compulsory land acquisition.
1. Planning and identification of land
Anytime during the implementation of a government project, officials in charge identify the ideal land. They analyze a site that has the fewest obstacles and achieves the best outcomes. If they choose to acquire a specific property, factors such as social, economic, and environmental impacts are put into consideration.
They go ahead and engage the residents through their community leaders. The community leaders are brought on board to participate effectively. This helps to know the land rights they enjoy, the natural resources, and other assets they depend on for their livelihood before they agree on the next step.
2. Submission of request
Once planning and identification of land are done, the cabinet secretary or a county executive committee member in charge of the project submits an official request for compulsory acquisition of land to the Land Commission. He/she lists down all the reasons justifying the specific acquisition of the land.
This helps identify the specific purpose that suits the public interest of the project. The Lands Commission has the power to reject or approve an application for compulsory acquisition. If permission is granted, the lands commission comes up with the criteria and the guideline to follow to acquire the land.
3. Publicity and notice of the project
The motive to acquire the land is made public. This is done using various media platforms such as newspapers, letters to the landowners, radio announcements, and one on one meetings. This is to ensure that each person is aware through formal communication. Also, any objections towards the acquisition are invited from the stakeholders.
4. Physical meetings
At this point, the personnel in charge of the acquisition holds physical meetings to answer questions and special issues and concerns from the public. The meetings are highly publicized to ensure that everyone attends.
5. Valuation and compensation
This is the step where the valuation of the whole property is done. The owners fill in the compensation forms from the Lands Commission. Submission is later done for payments. This step may take time due to verification and approvals by government agencies. However, when due process is followed payments are done with ease to the owners.
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