Family Land

The Constitution provides that a man and a woman have a right to marry and shall have equal rights at and in marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.  This is the basis for the rights of parties in a marriage which include rights on land. The law therefore makes provision for the protection of such rights through various laws relating to land rights.

In Uganda there are five forms of marriages that are recognized and these are Church, Muslim, civil, Hindu and customary marriages.  All these forms of marriage give equal rights to the parties in the marriage which include access to, ownership, acquisition and inheritance of land.  

Family Land refers to land where the family normally resides and derives sustenance and is treated as family land according to the norms, culture, customs, traditions or religion of the family. (Land Amendment Act 2004).

The Constitution guarantees equal treatment of women with men before the law and prohibits customs, laws, cultures and traditions that undermine the dignity, welfare and interest of women. This applies to customs that prevent women from having access, owning, acquiring, and inheriting land especially under customary tenure system, which is governed by customary laws and practices of a community.

Both spouses have the right to use and live on family land as long as the parties are both still married to each other.

The law further restricts any dealings in land (selling, mortgaging, leasing, and donating) by providing for the requirement of written spousal consent for any transaction on family land and this applies to all the tenure systems in land administration.  (Section 39 of the Land Act (Cap 227) and Section 20 of the Land Act 2004 as amended).  Transactions undertaken on family land without written consent of a spouse are deemed null and void. 

Protection of family land can be done through lodging a caveat. A caveat is an instrument that operates as security to protect the unregistered interests/claims of the caveator to land.  Section 39(7) of the Land Act provides that a spouse, not being the owner of the land (family land), may lodge a caveat on the Certificate of Title, Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Customary Ownership of the person who is the owner of the land to indicate that the property is subject to the requirement of spousal consent.