Tanzania acts on land rent defaulters

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development has filed over 120 cases in a bid to recover pending land rent from title deed owners.

The cases before Ilala District (Dar es Salaam) Land and Housing Tribunal, came as the land rent compliance is merely about 20 per cent countrywide thus denying the government billion shillings annually.

The Tribunal Chairman, Mr Yose Mlyambina, said at the weekend they planned to hear all matters before him in two days, ending today, while arrears for the first ten cases were over 100m/-.

“I can’t recall the total amount but the first ten cases rent arrears range between 2m/- and 58m/-, and I still have more files before me,” Mr Mlyambina told journalists at his chamber while perusing some files.

The Chairman added: “This is the first time the tribunal is handling such big volume of land rent disputesÉ but it is necessary as taxes should be paid by all for the development of the nation.” Most of the cases involved private companies and institutions, and individuals with accumulated rent arrears from as low as two years and above.

The defaulters were served with summary procedure which its important feature state that the defendant is not allowed to defend the suit, unless he takes the permission from court.

Most of the cases were ruled on the same day after hearing from both sides and defendants were given two weeks to settle the arrears or risking his/her property to be auctioned to recover the monies.

The Ministry of Lands Chief Accountant, Mr Walter Lungu, said the land rent compliance remains a big challenge for the ministry whereas currently the level is merely 20 per cent.

“The way forward is to open charges for any land rent defaulter thus way might increase the compliance,” Mr Lungu, told ‘Daily News’ without giving details of total amount of unpaid rent.

“The only option is to enforce the law to recover the arrearsÉ I can’t give you the total amount but it is in billion of shillings,” Mr Lungu said.

The Chief Accountant failed to give the land rent arrears figures as all disputes before the tribunal chairman might be challenged and reduce the amount in question.

Mr Lungu said the happening at the Ilala Land Tribunal will continue to all other land tribunals in a bid to recover billions of land rent arrears countrywide.

“What transpired today will be experienced in all other district tribunals in the countryÉ Ilala is the starting platformÉ I think this will increase compliance as hundreds will appear before the tribunal today (yesterday),” Mr Lungu said.

‘Daily News’ saw some land rent defendants waiting for their matters to be heard who have already paid the required amount in full or partially as their response to the tribunal’s summons.

Some of the private companies that appeared before the chairman assisted with three members of the tribunal are S.H. Amon, Murzah Oil Mills, and St Mary Academy and St Mary International.
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