THE Land Administration Authority (LAA) says it will soon crack the whip on ground rent defaulters.
The authority says as much as 60 percent of the country’s leaseholders are failing to pay ground rent and it will soon move to revoke the defaulters’ leases.
Ground rent is a regular fee paid by the lease holder for the use and occupation of their land parcel as provided for by the Land Act of 2010. Each land parcel has its own individual ground rent written on the lease of the plot.
Ground rent is payable by all lease holders of commercial sites. It is also paid by landholders with more than one property.
In terms of the Lesotho laws, the leaseholder only owns the right to occupy land while the land itself is owned by the state. This is envisaged in Section 107 of the Constitution and Section 4 of the Land Act 2010.
LAA public outreach manager Refiloe Monyake told the Business Journal that the authority is losing patience with the land holders.
“Every leaseholder who has a lease and not exempted as per section 77 (5) of Land Act of 2010 is liable to pay ground rent annually,” Ms Monyake said.
“However, only 40 percent pay ground rent while 60 percent are defaulting.”
She said the authority is implementing corrective measures to compel lease holders to comply with the law.
“The authority sends ground rent payment reminders annually. If they fail to comply, the authority issues a letter of demand prior to issuance of summons, and these measures appear to be helpful to certain degree.”
She has also warned that failure to pay ground rent could result in the termination of the lease under section 37 of the Land Act.
“A lease may be terminated by the minister by giving at least one month notice to the lessee for breaching any conditions and failing to comply with the Commissioner’s directive to remedy the breach within a reasonable specific time.”
Meanwhile, Lenka Thamae from the Survivors of Lesotho Dams (SOLD) said his organisation does not support the idea of imposing ground rent on the land holders because it is a natural resource.
He said it was understandable why many land holders were not complying with the law on paying ground rent.
“People normally acquire land free of charge as inherited estate from their parents, so they do not get why they have to pay ground rent for such land.
“As SOLD, we advocate for all-natural resources such as land to be considered basic human rights and should therefore be freely available to the people to survive on. By introducing ground rent on the land, the government is commercialising life with no regard for basic human rights,” Mr Thamae said.