Justice minister Johnston Busingye has called on local leaders to manage well abandoned properties in their respective areas.
Busingye was speaking at a meeting on abandoned properties in Remera, Kigali, this week. The meeting drew districts leaders, Ministry of Justice officials and Police.
Statistics from the ministry show that 1,039 abandoned properties were recorded in different parts of the country, including 466 houses, 555 gardens, and 18 plots of land.
A number of the abandoned assets lie idle while others have been grabbed by unrecognised heirs or beneficiaries, according to the ministry.
Minister Busingye urged the local leaders to responsibly manage them.
“Avoid the temptation of registering abandoned properties in your name. You have to make sure that you manage them until their owners return; avoid conflicts of interest, favouritism and bribes where you would be bribed to allow relatives to take over those abandoned properties,” he said.
The minister further added that all taxes accrued from the for abandoned properties must be paid from the incomes generated and not from borrowing.
Masasu Mugemangango, Rwanda National Police director of criminal record in Kigali, said there are cases of people who register abandoned properties under their name. He warned that this constitutes a crime.
Lemon Nderabahizi, the Gatsibo District vice-mayor for social affairs, said property evaluators’ consultation is necessary whenever an abandoned asset is to be rented out or auctioned.
Registering abandoned properties require normal procedures of submitting documents like national ID, which he said is also hard to get in most cases since the owners are nowhere to be found.
Martine Urujeni, the division manager of abandoned properties at the Ministry of Justice, said conflicts related to abandoned properties reduced.
However, he said unregistered properties, and default tenants who don’t pay rent are among the other challenges.
Majority of abandoned buildings are in Gasabo, Kicukiro, Nyarugenge, Rubavu, Nyaruguru, Gicumbi, and Nyarushishi, where 118 are rented while 175 are vacant.
Angelique Mukunde, the Kicukiro vice-mayor for economic affairs, said some unscrupulous relatives have grabbed abandoned properties on false premise of safe custody.
She called on the Ministry of Justice officials to visit the sites and reconcile their reports with those of district committees.
The 2015 law regulating the management of abandoned property gave vice mayors in charge of economic affairs the mandate to manage the assets with the Ministry of Justice as overseer.