ACQUIRING A PROPERTY 1
Land can be defined as the portions of the earth that is occupied by ground. It is solid which therefore differentiates it from water masses. Land is divided into four main types namely Desert, forest, grassland and tundra.
Cameroon Laws on properties classifies land as Private, public or National.
· Private land can be owned by individuals and corporate entities, groups or the state. In order to be deemed private, the land must be titled and registered.
· Public land (e.g., highways, parks, waterways) is land held by the state for the benefit of the people of Cameroon.
· National land includes most unoccupied land, land held by communities under customary law, informal settlements and grazing land. The state can allocate use rights to national land to individuals or groups or convert such land into the state’s private or public property.
The law recognizes the following tenure types: ownership, usufruct rights and leaseholds:
Ownership: Landowners have rights to exclusive possession and use of their land, the right to mortgage the land, and the right to transfer the land. All ownership rights in land must be registered. Most land privately-owned, registered land is in urban areas. Large commercial farms are also usually registered.
Usufruct: The state can grant usufruct rights to occupants of national land. Communities that have not registered their land are generally considered to have usufruct rights.
Leaseholds: Leaseholds can be granted by private parties or the state under terms agreed to by the parties. In urban and semi-urban areas, leasing is common. In some agricultural areas with limited land, rental arrangements are common. Sharecropping, an arrangement in which the tenant pays the landowner a percentage of the production, this is a common form of tenancy, particularly in the south. In the Southwest region, a decent number of cocoa farmers engaged sharecroppers.
Profit or license (i.e., the right to take products from the land): The law provides that customary communities have the right to hunt on and take products from unoccupied national land until such time as the state assigns the land to a particular use.
Most lands in Cameroon have been obtained through purchase, leasing, borrowing, inheritance, or allocation by traditional leaders. Farmers, and particularly migrants, cultivate forest areas in order to gain rights to land under customary law.
To conclude, the only form of legal ownership of land recognised by law is by application and ownership of a land certificate (Titre Foncier).
It should be noted that of the 465,400km2 of land available in Cameroon, by 2008, only about 125 000 land titles had been established of which were mostly in urban areas (97%) and the rest in rural a
reas(3%). As of today, Over 50% of lands in Cameroon are untitled.