Valuers welcome new expropriation law

Senators have passed the new expropriation law that amends the existing law to make it more protective of the rights of property owners in case of expropriation in public interest.
Houses in Batsinda, Gasabo District, that were constructed as part of an expropriation deal to people who were evicted  from Kiyovu. (Timothy Kisambira)
Houses in Batsinda, Gasabo District, that were constructed as part of an expropriation deal to people who were evicted from Kiyovu. (Timothy Kisambira)

Senators have passed the new expropriation law that amends the existing law to make it more protective of the rights of property owners in case of expropriation in public interest.

Among the most outstanding amendments that the new law, passed on Fridday, has brought include putting time limit within which the expropriation process will be happening.

Article 37 of the law states the time limits for payment to the person to be expropriated and failure to meet the limit could lead to cancellation of the expropriation project.

Under the current law, no time limit is provided for between when the property is evaluated and when payment is done.

“Compensation shall be paid within a period not exceeding 120 days from the day of its approval by the Council of the District, that of the City of Kigali or concerned ministry,” reads Article 37 of the new law.

Officials at the Institute of Real Property Valuers in Rwanda (IRPV) have welcomed the time limit on the expropriation period, saying it will help end the delays in compensating those who are told to leave their property.

“Many people will be happy about it. We have had cases where people have been told to leave their property and they have waited for compensation for years. It’s a very good thing that we will now have time limits,” said Egide Gatsirombo, chair of the Board of Directors at IRPV.

The new expropriation law states that the valuation of land and activities developed on land shall be conducted by certified real property valuers in Rwanda.

It also states that the value of land will be reviewed annually and approved by the Regulatory Council of Real Property Valuers.

Patrick Sebatigita, acting chairperson of the IRPV’s regulatory council, said having land and property prices adjusted every year is a good thing because it will help to reduce conflicts that arise from failure to agree on prices during expropriation.

Sebatigita said using an e-valuation application that the institute has commissioned, prices for land and property in every village of the country will be determined automatically through comparisons of market data from same areas.

“We hope to reduce conflicts arising from property valuations. Within two years, we will have a good market index because we will have enough data. Investors will be sure about the value of property before they can launch their investments,” Sebatigita said, showing the e-valuation software installed in his phone.

The new expropriation law stipulates that fair compensation of property owners in case of expropriation can be monetary in the Rwandan currency or any other terms mutually agreed by the expropriator and the one to be expropriated.

The law indicates that those who will be expropriated will be compensated before they can vacate their land.

“For the expropriation to be implemented, a fair compensation shall be paid to the expropriated person before they relocate,” states Article 36 of the Bill.

When the new expropriation law was being tabled in the Senate, Senator Gallican Niyongana, who is the vice-president of the Senate’s Committee on Social Affairs, said the law was bringing answers to “a lot of questions in the expropriation field.”

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