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Tanzania: Bill tabled to prohibit non-citizens from owning land through inheritance

On 14 November 2019, the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2019, Act No 8 of 2019 which proposed to amend several laws including the Probate and Administration of Estates Act, Cap. 352 was tabled in Parliament for first reading.

The amendment to the Probate and Administration of Estates Act now proposes to impose a restriction on Administrators and Executors in distributing the estate of the deceased which is in the form of landed property to heirs who are non-citizen. If the Bill goes through, the non-citizen heirs will be allowed to benefit from the proceeds realised from the disposition of the said landed property after the Administrator or Executor disposes off the property.

The laws of Tanzania through the provisions of section 20 of the Land Act prohibit foreigners to acquire land unless it is for investment purposes under the Tanzania Investment Act. The said Act makes it clear that a non-citizen can only acquire land if it is for investment purposes and that investment must be under the Tanzania Investment Centre. Otherwise non-citizens are not allowed to hold land in Tanzania.

However, through jurisprudential developments by way of case law, the High Court (Dr Fauz Twaib, J.), in the case of Emmanuel Marangakis as Attorney of Anastasios Anagnostou vs The Administrator General, Civil Case No. 1 of 2011 (Marangakis case), in a welcome decision, ruled that non-citizen heirs could own land by way of inheritance. The Court in this case interpreted that what was prohibited by the Land Act was direct grant or allocation of land to non-citizens and not ownership by way of inheritance.

The Bill is expected to be tabled for second reading in the first quarter of 2020 and if passed and assented to, non-citizens will expressly be prohibited from owning land by way of inheritance in Tanzania. The Administrator and Executor will only have to realize the landed property and distribute the proceeds thereto to the non-citizen heirs. Individuals who have devised property to heirs who are non-citizens may need to revisit their Wills.

Furthermore, the Bill proposes to amend other thirteen laws, namely the Civil Procedure Code, Cap 33, the Criminal Procedure Act, Cap 20, the Dairy Industry Act, Cap 262, the Executive Agencies Act, Cap 245, the Fisheries Act, Cap 279, the Government Proceedings Act, Cap 5, the Law of the Child Act, Cap 13, the Local Government (Urban Authorities) Authorities Act, Cap 288, Local Government (District Authorities) Authorities Act, Cap 287, the Meat Industry Act, Cap 421, the Penal Code, Cap 16,  the Tanganyika Law Society Act, Cap 307 and the Trustees’ Incorporation Act, Cap 318.

The proposed amendments intend to keep updated the respective laws with changes so far observed in their implementation.

To read the Bill click here.
To read the Marangakis case click here.

Article compiled by LEX Africa’s Tanzanian member firm FB Attorneys


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