By Mutakiwa Shayanowako
Residents of St Mary’s were today taught on property rights by the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF), Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) at local church.
They were taught that property rights are different from natural rights because of the come with some conditions depending on the circumstances of the property and individuals concerned such as in marriage, lease or other.
Residents were taught to ask for lease agreements when leasing properties for residential and commercial use so that they so that won’t be found wanting by unscrupulous property owners and the lease must have information such as duration, starting date, end date, amount of rentals and other incidental expenses paid the lease and such other conditions that might necessary in mitigating risks.
The were told to conduct due diligence when buying property by thaking their time in checking the background of the seller, history of land use in that area, identify the real owner(s) of the property involved.
“You must take your time even 3 months, physically inspect the property, determine land use area, visit the municipal and deed offices to verify ownership and title deeds of the property involved,” said Mr Zephania Chakawa, a legal officer with the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF).
Mr Chakawa advised the residents not to enter into a gentleman’s agreement even from their close relatives when buying a property and urged them to acquire ownership rights by transfering them from the seller to the buyer.
“Property ownership rights are acquired through agreement of sale and change of ownership”, said Chakawa.
He urged those in marriage who want to have dual ownership of the property to register it in both names so as to avoid backhand dealings by another partner in marriage.
“When a property is registered in both names, you have dual ownership of the house and one partner can not sell it alone”, said Chakawa.
Residents complained of the slow pace at which the municipality is issuing title deeds despite that some properties were bought cession 35 or more years ago.
“We came here in 1970 on a 25 year cession and its now 47 years after and we don’t have lease agreements and we approach council they are not cooperative,” asked another grandmother who refused to be identified.
Mr Chakawa advised the residents to approach civil society organizations like CHITREST if they are facing challenges in acquiring title deeds from the Municipality.
Mrs Loveness Deredza (68) of ward 4, St Mary’s constituency said that the meeting helped her understand how properties are acquired mostly under the inheritance laws.
“I came about the title deeds of parents house and the meeting helped open my eyes, brains and ears on property rights,” said Deredza.