Can foreigners own land in Lesotho?

 

Ownership of land in Lesotho is governed by the Land Act, 2010.  The land as envisaged in the Act is held in trust by the King of Lesotho however, it vests in the nationals of Lesotho.

Land in Lesotho can be owned by a citizen of Lesotho who is of the age 18 and above unless where the person obtains the land by virtue of being married, or of it being a gift or through inheritance.

The types of land allocation are the following:

  1. Exclusive possession;
  2. Right to mortgage;
  3. Right to dispose of;
  4. Right to sublet; A
  5. Right to servitudes; and
  6. Right to bequeath.

 

Land can also be owned by a company which is duly incorporated or registered under the laws of Lesotho and of which the shareholders are Basotho and carrying on business in Lesotho. Furthermore, a partnership carrying on business in Lesotho and its shareholders are Basotho, can also own land in Lesotho. Also, a cooperative society, friendly society and a society or body of persons registered under the laws of Lesotho can own land.

An association established under the laws of Lesotho and Commonwealth or foreign governments or public international organizations for which Lesotho enjoys similar reciprocity for purposes relevant to their activities, can also own property in Lesotho.

It must be noted that a foreign enterprise operating in Lesotho can obtain land provided that the shareholding of Basotho in the enterprise form at least 20 % of the shareholding of the enterprise.

The duration of the title depends on the type of allocated land. Residential and agricultural land are given a 90-year duration of title. Commercial property is given a 60 year duration of title and petrol leases are given a 30 duration of title.

Several rights can be registered on the ownership of land, these rights override on the ownership of the land. Rights such as water rights; any rights to mines, minerals, coal, mineral oil, or gas;  any flora or fauna naturally occurring or present on the land; any paleontological or archaeological remains;  rights of compulsory acquisition, sale, resumption, entry, search and user conferred by any other written law; subleases or rental agreements; the rights of a person in actual occupation of land or in receipt of the rents and profits thereof where enquiry is made of such person and the rights are not disclosed; any unpaid rates and other moneys which, without reference to registration under this Act, are expressly declared by any written law to be a charge upon land;  rights acquired or in process of being acquired by virtue of any written law relating to the limitation of actions; and electricity supply lines, telephone and telegraph lines, poles, pipelines, aqueducts, canals, weirs and dams erected, constructed or laid in pursuance or by virtue of any power conferred by any written law override the ownership to land and the owner of the land is to use the land in view of these rights.

Further to the above rights, land owners can register sectional titles on their land. Sectional titles are rights that people have in regard to a certain unit within a complex without necessarily holding exclusive rights to the land in which the complex is affixed to. The owner of the land also has to observe sectional tittle rights of the holders of these rights and not to infringe on these rights to use as purported in the sectional tittle.

The office of the Commissioner of Land has been given the task to administer land in Lesotho. Any dispute arising in regard to land ownership or any other rights attached to land, are to be heard by either the District Land Court as a court of first instance or the Land Court as a higher court to the District Land Court.

We assist our clients with the drafting of commercial agreements relating to the ownership of property in Lesotho. We also advise on the various structures and commercial agreements available to foreigners should they wish to own properties in Lesotho. Contact our commercial team for all your property enquiries in Lesotho.