AN OVERVIEW OF THE TITLES REGISTRATION AND DERELICT LANDS ACT OF ZIMBABWE.

The Titles Registration and Derelict Lands Act [Chapter 20:20] hereinafter referred to as “the Act” is the legislation that deals with the registration of titles in certain cases, and the disposal of certain derelict lands in Zimbabwe.

Section 3 of the Act deals with persons or entities who purchased land or that acquired the just and lawful right to the ownership of any immovable property in Zimbabwe by prescription or by virtue of any contract or transaction or in any other manner, and or certain property but failed to register such title in their names by reason of death, insanity or insolvency of the person in whose name the property is registered. It states that such people may apply to the High Court to order registration of title into their own names.

The process for applying to the High Court for such declaration is laid out within the Act. Also See the case of Masenda v Masawi HH 124-203.

Section 4 of the Act provides for persons entitled to expropriate land and are unable to obtain title in an ordinary way. The Act states as follows;

“any person that has acquired the right to any immovable property by expropriation and is entitled to obtain registration of title to such property, but cannot from any cause obtain such registration in the manner and according to the forms by law provided, may apply to the High Court to order registration of title.”

Section 5 of the Act then deals with persons for example municipalities, other statutory bodies, or public bodies, in general, having claims on derelict land. It states that;

Whenever there remains due and unpaid for the space of five years any rate or assessment payable to any municipality or other public body upon any immovable property in Zimbabwe, and such property is  abandoned, deserted and left derelict, and the owner thereof cannot be found, it shall  be lawful for the person or body claiming such rate or assessment to apply to the  High Court, stating the amount claimed to be due and the grounds for applying for relief under this Act.” This implies that the land is automatically considered derelict after it has been abandoned or neglected by the owner for a period of at least 5 years.

In terms of section 11 of the Act, a Judge or High Court may order that the property in respect of which an application has been brought to the court in terms of section 5 be attached and sold to satisfy such claims as stated by the public body or municipality claiming such rates or assessment.

What is the effect of Registration?

As per section 13 of the Act, Registration of title under the Act shall have the effect of vesting such person with a title and right to such property.

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