Gender and Land Rights Database


Land Legislation

Organic Law No. 08/2005 of 14/07/2005 determining the use and management of land in Rwanda

  • Article 3: Land is part of the public domain of all Rwandans; ancestors, present and future generations.

With exceptions of the rights given to people, the state has supreme powers to manage all the national land, and this is done in public interest aimed at sustainable, economic development and social welfare, in accordance with procedures provided for by law.

In that regard, it is the state that guarantees the right to own and use the land. The state also has rights to expropriation due to public interest, settlement and general land management through procedures provided by law and prior to appropriate compensation.

  • Article 4: Any person or association with legal personality has the right over the land and to freely exploit it as provided by the organic law. Any discrimination either based on sex or origin in matters relating to ownership or possession of rights over the land is prohibited. The wife and the husband have equal rights over land.
  • Article 7: The organic law protects equally the rights over the land acquired from custom and the rights acquired from written law.

With regard to laws, owners of land acquired from custom are all persons who inherited the land from their parents, those who acquired it from competent authorities or those who acquired it through any other means recognized by national custom whether purchase, gift, exchange and sharing.

  • Article 11: Individual land is composed of the land acquired through custom, written law which excludes public land or district, town, municipality and the City of Kigali land, the one acquired from competent authorities, purchased land, gift, and exchange and sharing.
  • Article 20: […] it is prohibited to reduce the parcel of land reserved for agriculture of one or less than a hectare. Similarly, the land between one hectare and five hectares may be reduced if the land commission at the level of jurisdiction where the land is found authorizes the owner of the land
  • Article 30: Registration of land a person owns is obligatory. 
  • Article 31: establishes a land bureau at the level of every district, town or municipality responsible for registration of land. […]

The Land Officer shall keep land registers and issues certificates approving ownership of land.

  • Article 35: Final transfer of rights on land like sale, donation or exchange by a representative of the family requires the prior consent of all other members of the family who are joint owners of such rights.
  • Article 55: The landowner has no right over minerals and any other wealth underground; they belong to the State. However, he or she is allowed before others to enjoy rights of their exploitation upon his or her request and if he or she is capable.
  • Article 62: Obligation to use the land in a productive way

Any person who owns land must use it in a productive way and in accordance with its nature and intended purpose.

The use of land in a productive way is to protect it from erosion, safeguard its fertility and ensuring its production in a sustainable way.

Any person who uses another person’s land, either basing on the contract he or she entered into with the owner of the land or whether he or she acquired it through legal procedures is required to properly maintain it and use it in a productive manner.

  • Article 73: Monitoring

The district, municipality and town land commission shall always monitor that individual and leased district land in the district, municipality and town is well managed and productively exploited. Every year, the commission shall make a report on the monitoring and submits it to the mayor of the district and other officials with powers to donate or lease state private owned land.

Those officials may impose sanctions provided for in this chapter of this organic law against the landlord or any other person allowed to lease the land who fails to respect the obligation of efficiently conserve the land and productively exploit it

Ministerial Order No. 009/16.01 of 23/08/2011 determining the procedure to obtain a freehold land title

  • Article 5: Application for a Certificate of registration of a freehold land title shall be made to the Registrar or Deputy Registrar.
  • Article 9: The Registrar and the Deputy Registrars, according to their respective competences, are the only ones with power to issue freehold land title.

Law No. 18/2007 of 19/04/2007 relating to expropriation in the public interest

  • Article 2: defines expropriation as the taking of private property in the public interest aimed at development, social welfare, security and the territorial integrity and just compensation as an indemnity equivalent to the value of land and the activities performed thereon given to the expropriated person and calculated in consideration of market prices.
  • Article 5: Acts of public interest include (inter alia) valuable minerals and other natural resources in the public domain
  • Article 6: excludes expropriation for private purposes but introduces an exception “if it is clear that such individual activities are of public interest and the nation at large” in which case “they shall be considered as being in public interest, but the owners of the activities shall be liable for payment of charges for inventory of assets and of just compensation of the person to be expropriated”
  • Article 18: The person who owns land intended for public interest shall provide evidence to confirm that he or she possesses rights on that land and presents a certificate of acknowledgement of the members of his or her family.

Among the evidence to confirm ownership of the land, there shall be included:

  • written evidence indicating that he or she purchased the land, received it as a donation or as a legacy or a successor;
  • a document or a statement of local administrative entities, indicating rights of the expropriated person on the land;
  • a document or testimony of the neighbours confirming the ownership of the land;
  • a Court certificate.

The person who owns land intended for public interest shall also indicate a certificate of his or her spouse if legally married in accordance with community of property or limited community of acquests.

Law No. 43/2013 of 16/06/2013 governing land in Rwanda

  • Article 4: Equal right to land

All forms of discrimination, such as that based on sex or origin, in relation to access to land and the enjoyment of real rights shall be prohibited.

The right to land for a man and a woman lawfully married shall depend on the matrimonial regime they opted for.

  • Article 10: Individual land

Private individual land shall comprise land acquired through custom or written law.

That land has been granted definitely by competent authorities or acquired by purchase, donation, inheritance, succession, ascending sharing, and exchange or through sharing. […]

  • Article 20: Obligation to register land

Registration of land is obligatory for that land owner.

  • Article 21: Prior consent to transfer of land

Any transaction on land rights made by a family representative requires the consent of all the registered right holders on the land title. Persons not legally qualified to represent their own interests shall be represented by a person authorized to do so under the law. […]

  • Article 39: Obligation of exploiting a land in a productive way

Any person owning land shall exploit it in a productive way and in accordance with its nature and intended use.[…]

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography