How to Buy a Real Estate or Land in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

With the development of private property ownership, real estate has become a major area of business, commonly referred to as commercial real estate. Purchasing real estate requires a significant investment, and each parcel of land has unique characteristics and requires the assistance of a lawyers. This article gives you insight of the Democratic Republic of Congo laws and regulations.

Legal conditions

What legal formalities are needed to buy a plot or a house in one city of the Democratic Republic of Congo?

1. Verification of title deeds

The seller is he really the owner of the plot or the house? Does he have the right to sell it? Does the title deed correspond to the property he wishes to sell?

In theory, today all property titles should be confirmed by title deeds; however, the setting up of title deeds for the existing plots can take a lot of time.

“Many houses and plots belonging to the State in some cities such as Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, etc… have been despoiled.

The DRC government set up a commission to get back these State properties sold at a very
low price. The buyers of these properties feeling the danger approaching have sold them to others. Before buying a house or a plot in those cities or towns, they should check in the minister’s office if that house of plot is not about to be returned to the Sate. Those who do not listen to this advice will be throwing money out the window and can only blame themselves.

Anyone buying a plot or a house can find himself in two different situations:

I. If the plots are registered in the land survey register

These are plots independent of title deeds. They are governed by a registration certificate or a hiring contract (lease) conferred by the State. The registration certificate is the final title deed in Democratic Republic of Congo. The hiring contract is a right of possession for the duration and under the conditions stated in the contract.

a) Verify if the registration certificate or the hiring contract is at the name of the seller.

Does the seller have to right to sell the plot or the house? If there are other names it means he is not the only owner. He can only sell the property if he has a written consent of the others owners on the certificate.

b) The authenticity of the registration certificate or the hiring contract must be done at the department of title deeds.

Does the certificate correspond to the specifications of the registrar of deeds? Are the specifications relative to the plot or the house (cadastral number and description of the property)?

II. If the plots are not registered in the land survey register

These plots will one day have to be registered at the Title Deeds, but that are still depending on urban authorities. There are governed by the following documents:

a) Landlord leaflet (formerly delivered by the municipal work and regional policy service – town planning and housing – but it should be delivered by them since land law of 1973);

b) Allotment leaflet (delivered by the municipality or the municipality office);

c) Certificate of allotment occupation sometimes entitled property certificate (delivered by the municipality);

d) Certificate of allotment right of occupancy (delivered by the municipal work and town planning service);

Verify, with the identity card of the seller, if the documents are in his name.
Verify the authenticity of the landlord and the allotment leaflet with the municipality office and the municipal work and town planning service. Moreover, the seller must get an allotment occupation certificate (or property certificate) from the municipality if he does not already have one. This document should not be older than three months. This document must bear the mayor’s signature.

2. Sale contract for the allotment

After the verifications above, it is important to draw up correctly the sale documents: bill of sale or leaseback, that will thereafter have to be made official by the municipality and a notary.

Which information should the sale contract contain?
a. The seller’s and buyer’s identity;
b. All details regarding the allotment or the house: cadastral number, date of registration certificate, complete description of the allotment and constructions on it;
c. The sale price; in full, were the payment modalities and time limits are mentioned;
d. The place, date and signature of all contractors.

3. Authentication of the bill of sale

The buyer and the seller present themselves in person to the solicitor. They vouch they agree with the bill of sale. The notary writes that down on the contract, signs, dates and affixes his stamp. This contract then becomes a notary act. All contractors must be present for the authentication of the bill. The notary writes it down in his register.

4. Registration of the authenticated contract

If it is a plot registered in the title deed, the parties must present themselves in front of the keeper of title deed from the building’s city or town. The keeper puts all relevant information in the title deed register. He then delivers a mobile certificate to the new owner proving his ownership and deletes the old inscription with the name of the seller.

It is with this last action that the buyer receives the title and the right to make use of his property.
Without the registration the owner cannot oppose his right to third parties. If the seller isn’t honest and sells the same property for the second time, the buyer will not be able to enforce his property title for lack of registration.

Please contact us for more information. In fact, real estate law, although broad in scope, is most commonly focused on transferring real estate interests from one party to another. It is important for any person in a real estate transaction to understand the real estate law in their state, and often county or city, prior to agreeing on any transfer of interest in real estate. Parties will often have different rights and responsibilities in real estate transfers. Each party to a real estate transaction should consult with an experienced real estate law attorney prior to making any commitments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Prof. Dr. Joseph Yav Katshung
Professor of Law at the University of Lubumbashi in the DRC and Attorney at Law in DRC. He is the founder and Managing Partner of a leading Law Firm in the Democratic republic of Congo. He holds a doctorate of Law from the University of Lubumbashi; a Masters degree of Law (University of Pretoria in South Africa); a Masters in Law (University of Lubumbashi in DRC), and several postgraduate diplomas.

Copyright Yav & Associates

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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