Is your Zambian property’s ground rent all paid up?

In Zambia, all land that is “on title vests in the President of the Republic on behalf of the people.

The state then ‘leases’ out the land to property owners for 99 years. Like any landlord, the state requires rent is paid in the form of ground rent. The amount of ground rent is determined by the size, zoning and location of the property and must be paid annually. Failure to pay ground rent can lead the state to repossess your property. This is very important for people in the diaspora that own property because they may not know or fail to pay their ground rent annually. The consequences can be dire. Although the state has to give you notice before they repossess your property, many people in the diaspora provide Zambian home addresses even though they live abroad. Therefore registered post may not reach you and you may not see notices that are published in the Zambian newspapers. So keep that annual payment in mind and make sure it’s done. If you get someone at home to make the payment for you, don’t forget to ask them to send you the official receipt! File it and keep it safe for your records.

The other important cost that you must pay is land rates to the local council. This is usually charged semi annually. In Lusaka, the council undertook a huge exercise a few years ago to re-evaluate the properties under its jurisdiction. The result is that land rates for increased significantly. Failure to pay the land rates won’t lead to repossession of your property but it can result in legal action against you and bailiffs being dispatched to grab assets on your property – a horrible embarrassment to your family or tenants occupying your property. Again, make sure you make this payment regularly and always ask for a receipt for your own records. All receipts form public institutions come with an official stamp. Remember there are costs to property ownership and while you live abroad these costs must always be fully paid!

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