Land dealings – What you need to know
August 6, 2020
Owning or leasing land and building your home is always a dream come true for many consumers. The process of finding suitable land can also be an arduous task for many. For those that intend to lease land, there can be a long wait for the availability of plots. Case Study.
A consumer saw a piece of land being advertised on Facebook and engaged and paid the seller the sum of $10,000. The consumer engaged a lawyer to prepare the Sale and Purchase agreement.
He later noted that the lease was not transferred to him and that the plot that he was promised had been already allocated to someone else. He then engaged the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) and found that he was required to pay an application fee before he could be allocated a piece land which would also require further payment.
The consumer assumed that he would be able to select the plot that he wanted after making the payment. He later found out that all land leases of iTaukei land is administered by TLTB and that he would still be required to go through the necessary process as well as pay the required fees. The consumer had failed to conduct the necessary research pertaining to the processes he must follow to obtain land and ended up paying more.
Luckily, TLTB still offered a piece of land for the consumer to lease. Types of Land in Fiji It is always important to learn as much as you can about the land that you intend to purchase. This helps consumers understand which agency they need to deal with, and whether the land they intending to lease is money’s worth. Freehold Land Close to 6 per cent of land in Fiji is Freehold land registered under the Torrens System of land registration, by which titles to land are guaranteed.
Freehold land can be purchased, transferred, or leased, subject to the conditions of the Land Sales Act, which among other things restrict the quantity of land which can be purchased by individuals who are not residents in Fiji, and by companies not wholly owned by Fiji citizens. State or Crown Land Crown land or State Land makes up 4 per cent of Fiji’s Land.
This is administered by the Department of Lands. In addition, all foreshore lands below mean high water mark, the soil under Fiji waters and the beds of navigable rivers and streams are considered State Land.
State Land is not sold outright but some are available for leasing. State leases are granted and managed by the Director of Lands.
The types of State Land include:
- State Freehold lands – state lands with current freehold titles;
- State land without title – state lands where freehold titles have been cancelled
- Schedule A and Schedule B land – these have been transferred to TLTB
- State Foreshore – all land below high-water mark. Schedule A and B lands were transferred to TLTB by legislation in 2002 and are now iTaukei land.
The State lands without title is administered by the Director of Lands. iTaukei Land Close to 89.75 per cent of land in Fiji is iTaukei land. It belongs to iTaukei communal groups or landowning unit. Usually, a portion of each land area is set aside for the site of the village and the rest is iTaukei reserve. It is the land within the iTaukei reserve that may be made available for use and developments by others through short-term or long-term lease. In order for development to take place on iTaukei land, the developer must obtain a lease. Leases on iTaukei land are offered through the TLTB, a statutory authority which administers all such lands on behalf of iTaukei owners. Consumer Tips
For Freehold land
- A title search at the Registrar of Titles Office can assist consumers in determining whether the land is a freehold property or not.
- Consumers can engage a lawyer to draft a sale and purchase agreement between the buyer and the seller. The lawyer will determine whether there are rates or utility bills in arrears or any encumbrance on the land that needs to be cleared by the seller.
- Once the Sale and Purchase is agreed upon and the payments are made, there will be a transfer process to signify the consumer as the title holder.
- The seller will have to pay Capital Gains Tax while the consumer will pay Stamp Duty.on the transfer document with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS). For Crown Land
- For State land, it is imperative for consumers to engage the Lands Department to determine the plots available.
- The lands department will have application processes and fee requirements that need to be followed before a consumer is notified of the status of their application. For iTaukei land
- There two major types of leases – agricultural and non – agricultural leases and these are administered by the TLTB.
- Depending on the type of lease a consumer wants, it is important to know and understand the necessary fees required by engaging the proper agency which is TLTB.
- Any dealings outside TLTB can be considered void. Once TLTB have undertaken the process of Dereservation for a particular iTaukei land reserve, they have the authority to allot the lands as they see fit.
For any concerns, consumers are urged to contact the Council on toll free number 155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org