Rwanda: How Private Notaries Have Eased Land Ownership Transfer Services

It’s coming to a month since private notaries were authorised to oversee land transfer transactions in the country, a move that aimed to solve difficulties associated with the process, which had dragged on for long.

Prior to this, public notaries – mainly at sector offices – were the only ones rendering the services, and this led to delays in the process, since they were few, in addition to the fact that they had other assignments at the sectors.

Since starting their work last month, private notaries have so far handled 772 land transactions, 339 of which are in Kigali, 133 in the Eastern Province, 109 in the Southern Province, 61 in the Western Province, and 130 in the North Province.

Speaking to The New Times, Marie Grace Nishimwe, the Head of Land Administration Department at the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA), noted that basing on what has been done so far, the initiative promises to be one that will bring great results in easing land transfers.

“We are still training the private notaries in a couple of things, and trying to deepen the services. It (the inclusion of the private notaries in land transfer process) makes the service delivery faster for clients, and soon, they will start to operate via the Irembo portal, and this will make it even faster,” she said.

Damien Kayisire, who was recently attended to by a private notary, said the services are good and fast.

“Any time you need a private notary, you can get them – even during weekends, unlike public ones who were only available for land transfer services on Thursday at the sector offices. Getting a public notary was difficult for us because you would go to the sector offices and find a long queue of people waiting for the services, something that was very tiresome and made the process difficult,” he noted.

Emmanuel Rugambage, one of the private notaries that were authorised to carry out land transfers, told The New Times that the process is smooth, except for a challenge related to delivering the land titles.

“The citizens are required to pick the titles from the place where the land is located. This leads to challenges of having to travel to far places to pick the titles,” he noted.

“If a citizen does not get a land title in time, it may affect other activities they envisaged to carry out. For example, acquiring loans from banks using the title as collateral,” he added.

Nishimwe told The New Times that RLMUA is working on such challenges, and they expect that in six months’ time, the issuance of e-land titles will begin in the country so that people can always get them without having to travel.

Meanwhile, private notaries also told The New Times that they are having good clientele for land services.

For instance, Rugambage has served about 18 clients in the past three weeks, while his counterpart Sixbert Rutikanga has served up to 35.

So far, RLMUA has licensed only 86 private notaries for the work, saying they are the ones that have met the requirements currently.

These have been given training in various things, including the law governing land in Rwanda and technical aspects for handling land transactions, before they were commissioned to start the work.

The services they are competent to render include certification of wills involving movable property or documents that nullify them, carrying out the certification and authentication of agreements relating to transfer of land and other immovable property fixed on land through succession, donation, bequest, inheritance, leasing, sale, land leasing, compensation, right of way, provision of a guarantee for the benefit of a third party.

They are also authorised to certify the authentication of contracts relating to condominium agreements, among other documents related to property transactions as stipulated by the law.

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