The short answer is YES - You can buy Zanzibar land for sale even if the owner does not have all the official documentation.
Generational Land Ownership - Zanzibar is still considered a developing country, with a large part of the population still living in rural styled communities. Land ownership, transfer, gifting, inheritance, sale and purchase in Zanzibar has historically been done through unofficial channels between locals / citizens for hundreds of years. Due to this vast areas of land are still 'locally owned", whereby, the owner does not have all or any official documentation for their property, even though there are no other claims to the property and their ownership/right of occupancy is recognized by the local community and regional municipal authorities.
Sheha / Village Leader - A "Sheha" is a civic leader, according to the law, who is appointed by the Regional Commissioner, appointed by the the District Commissioner, and is the main representative of the Zanzibar government at a community level. The majority of local land owners who do not have official, government issued ownership documents, do have Confirmation Letters of Ownership issued by the regional Sheha, which is used to initiate and facilitate the sale of their property, in the absence of said official government ownership documentation, such as
✔ Sales Deed
✔ Land Transfer Certificate
✔ Land Lease Certificate
How To Buy Undocumented Zanzibar Land For Sale
Understanding the intricacies of undocumented Zanzibar real estate is extremely important to ensure that the individual claiming ownership of the property has legal right to dispose of the property and the buyer would be able to secure the necessary ownership documentation after the sale transaction is complete, here’s how it works:
Due Diligence Investigation – Check out our blog, "Due Diligence When Buying Zanzibar Real Estate" - Conducting extensive due diligence checks for any property that does not have official government documentation is critical, prior to land purchase to ensure that you are conducting business with the genuine and rightful owner of the property.
Contract Creation – Check out our blog, "Do You Need A Lawyer To Buy Zanzibar Real Estate" - Enlisting the services of a lawyer is crucial for the due diligence investigation, contract creation and the processing of the necessary documentation regarding the sale of the property. After the ownership of the property and the terms/conditions of the transaction have been confirmed the next step is creating the sales agreement/contract. The Sales agreement between the seller and buyer must be drafted by a recognised Zanzibar advocate/agency, signed by both parties and registered with the Zanzibar High Court. * Contracts not registered with the Zanzibar High Court, with unpaid stamp duties are not recognized by the Zanzibar government as an enforceable agreement*
✔ Stamp Duties / Contract Registration Fees - 1% of Contract Value
✔ Legal Cost - Typically - 5% - 15% of Contract Value
Zanzibar Land Transfer Board - After the contract has been registered with the Zanzibar High Court, it is submitted to the Land Transfer Board to process the title transfer from the seller to the buyer. This task is usually done by the buyer's lawyer who fills out the necessary forms and submits the relevant supporting documentation. The process can take anywhere from 1 - 3 months and after the transaction has been approved, the buyer will be issued a new "Land Transfer Certificate", which is the first official document, confirming their title rights of the property.
Zanzibar Ministry Of Land - After the Land Transfer Certificate is issued to the buyer, the next step is securing the land lease certificate from the Ministry of Land. The Land Transfer Certificate, registered sales contract and other supporting documentation is submitted to the Ministry of Land and a land lease certificate requested for the newly purchased property. This process can take anywhere from 1-4 months and after the transaction is approved, the buyer will be issued a new "Land Lease Certificate" and "Official Site Plan" for their property. This is the last and final official documentation, confirming their unequivocal land rights and right of occupancy for the property. * Land leases are normally given for 33 - 99 years, which is renewed prior to expiry for further extension*
The most important thing to consider when purchasing Zanzibar land for sale is conducting extensive due diligence checks. Anyone can claim ownership of a plot and it is the duty of the buyer or their advocates to ensure that they are conducting business with the rightful land owner. The best way to avoid fraudulent claims and mitigate due diligence expenses is to enlist the services of a well established, professional real estate agency that knows how to navigate the complex world of undocumented Zanzibar real estate for sale. The current, dominating Zanzibar real estate agency is Africa Luxury Properties. Africa Luxury Properties dedicates large amounts of resources toward conducting extensive due diligence checks for all their listings and connecting investors with genuine land owners. Contact them if you are interested in purchasing Zanzibar real estate.