A bonafide occupant does not have a title to land that he/she is occupying and no one has challenged his occupation. S/he must have occupied and utilized the land for twelve years or more before the coming into force of the 1995 Constitution. The registered owner of the land or his/her agent did not challenge or ask the landholder to leave the land during this period.
Rights of the Bonafide Occupant
A bonafide occupant …
- Enjoys security of occupancy;
- Has priority to buy the land if the registered owner wants to sell the land;
- May acquire a certificate of occupancy by applying to the registered owner;
- May assign, pledge and creates 3rd party rights in the land with the consent of the registered owner; and
- May change occupancy into freehold, mailo, lease or sublease upon purchase.
NOTE: The law only protects lawful and bonafide occupants on registered land. A squatter is not protected by the law. However a squatter may have exclusive ownership of the land he or she has settled on if the person remains on that land and exclusively uses it without any interruption form the owner of the land for a period of 12 years and more.
To qualify to be a bona fide occupant, one must have settled and utilized the land unchallenged by the registered owner for twelve years or more before the coming into force of the 1995 Constitution. Thus, he/she must have settled and used the land before 8th October 1983.