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Housing in Uganda


Uganda is an African success story. After the Idi Amin and Milton Obote eras, in 1986 President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was elected and led the country to economic liberalisation and development, with almost two decades of unbroken growth.

Uganda is perhaps Africa's friendliest country, and the warmth and hospitality of the locals often amazes visitors. Kampala's expatriate areas remain peaceful, less crowded and pleasant despite the rapid expansion of the city.

The two decades of unbroken growth has led to an increase in the number of expatriates. The development of new residential areas within the outskirts of Kampala has increased the housing supply. The luxury housing sales market is dominated by investor-landlords intending to let to foreigners. The expatriate market can be broadly divided into two, according to Knight Frank, the old areas and the new.

The old areas have been established expatriate housing areas for more than a decade. These areas are within the city centre. They are generally more expensive. The new areas are on the outskirts of the city. They usually have better views, and are less expensive.

The 1996 Constitution grants land ownership rights solely to citizens of Uganda. Foreign nationals and corporations may, however, obtain leases for 49 or 99 years.

Buying a Property

The 1995 Constitution grants land ownership rights solely to citizens of Uganda. Foreigners cannot own land freehold. They may, however, obtain leases for 49 or 99 years. Foreign investors, individual or corporate, cannot acquire land for the purpose of crop or animal production. Foreigners can either rent/lease from citizens or from the Government.

A real estate lawyer is needed in real estate transactions in Uganda. When offer on the property is accepted by the seller, due diligence follows. The lawyer conducts a title search and obtains the transfer forms from the Land Office.

A licensed surveyor then visits the property to establish the boundaries. Depending on size and location, this can take up to three days. When this has been done, the transfer forms is submitted to the Land Office to receive consent to transfer. The property is inspected by a government valuer to ascertain proper taxation. An assessment form is given to the buyer, which is then presented to a commercial bank for payment of stamp duty.

When all has been cleared, the lawyer draws up the sale agreement. A deposit of 20% is paid upon signing, with the remaining balance to be settled within 30 to 60 days.

The transfer forms are then submitted, together with the signed sale agreement and stamp duty receipt, to the Registrar's Department of the Land Office, and registration fee is paid. This process, dealing with the Registrar's Department, takes about three weeks to accomplish.

Renting a Property

In Uganda, there are no tenant protection laws. Rent can be freely negotiated.

The security deposit is worth one month's rent. Advance payment from three months to a year's rent is typically paid and succeeding rent is paid quarterly in advance. As the rental market is becoming less of a landlord's market, a year's rent paid upfront is becoming less common.

Typical rental agreements last for one to two years. Normally, a three months notice period is included in the contract. In some cases, a break-off or diplomatic clause is included.





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