Protect Land Against Trespass, Encroachment and Fraudulent Activities
To Protect Land Against Trespass of any form is a responsibility of every caring property owner. To the owners, acquiring land comes with hard work and proper decision making. Land is a valuable resource that everyone dreams to have. Once this dream is achieved, you must devise ways of protecting it conservatively in order to attain its current and future benefits. After buying a property, you celebrate it as an achievement but you have one challenge ahead, protecting it for the period you will own it. This is your daily obligation as the rightful owner. Some people have lost property to fraud and encroachment. Trespass to Land which is the illegal encroachment by somebody to someone’s land is a criminal vice that every land owner should fight and this comes with efforts. The outcry of losing what you have previously owned is the reason you should know the following tips on how to guard your property against loss:-
Make Periodic visits to your property
Ensure that you make periodic visits to your land at least once a month. This will help you identify any likely encroachment to it if any. Many encroachers take advantage of the longer absence of the owner to make use of it.
Regular Property Search in the Land Registry
Make regular crossing checking of your property in the land registry to ascertain its status. You may own your property on the ground but lose it the land’s office. After a reasonable period, apply for a search report about your property to confirm that you are still the rightful owner.
Put a Caveat to your property
A caveat to a property in the land registry prevents any action to the title. For instance, it guards against a possible sales transaction and the transfer of the title to another owner without your consent.
Survey your Land and insert proper Mark stones
On buying a property, verify its size using professional land surveying services. After sometime, a greedy neighbor may change such mark stones to reclaim a portion of your land. Land surveys helps to ward off any encroachment beyond the official boundaries.
Fence your Property
Mark your territory of ownership by fencing your property around its boundaries. Fencing is a message that its your property and no one should jump the fence. A fence may be in form of shorter poles connected with barbed wires, perimeter wall, iron sheets, vegetation fencing or a boundary trench in rare cases. The size of your land will determine the cost and type of fencing needed.
Hire security guard to monitor your property
Security guards are vital in preventing unauthorized actions to your land. Property transactions happen after site visits. A guard to the land would easily warn the prospective buyers that it’s not for sale or even stop walk-ins. A guard as well monitor the boundaries to look for any illegal activities to it if any.
Get a Care taker to oversee or stay on the land
In case you are not near your property, you need a caretaker to oversee it periodically or stay there full time and carry out some small farming or any activity on/in it. This person will update you about your property and is another guard against encroachers. Put a small two-room house to the land for his accommodation.
Do not leave your Land Idle
Fraudsters love areas that look isolated and unused for some good time. They would investigate about such property to get enough information to help them carry out forgeries behind you. Ensure you carry out some farming or any other activity. With such activities, you will have regular ground updates.
You arrangement with the caretaker should be in writing
Some caretakers use such advantage of living on a property to forge ownership. Whoever you allow on your property for any activity like farming, brick-laying, livestock, stone quarrying, sand mining and many more, ensure you put everything in writing. Such people may claim to be squatters tomorrow when you need to sell or use your land. Legally, a squatter has rights to the land and compensation is his entitlement in case he is needed off.
Put up a Not for Sale, No Trespass Signage
Insert a Not for Sale or No Trespass signage into your property so that the misguided intending buyers through conmen are scared. Such warnings are vital in protecting your against trespass or saving one’s money against illegal purchase.
Appoint a Property Manager to your
Property Management companies do take care of buildings and empty spaces as well. A manager will ensure that the property boundaries are maintained and slashing bushes. For a rental property, he collects rent, pays utilities, makes repairs and superintend the property on your behalf. This manager is in your ownership interests. And have a good agreement clarifying his specific roles to the property.
Relate well with Neighbors
When buying a property, it’s better to ask neighbors about the property history. Immediate neighbors always have good information about the property that the land registry will not give you in the search report. In same way after acquiring any property anywhere, ensure that a few neighbors are aware that you are the rightful owner. Take their contacts and let them also have yours. In case of any encroachment, they are the first people to inform you. Lower your ego, stop and greet the neighbours, they may be helpful to you at some time.
Trust your lawyer but within limits
Lawyers are good especially at the property acquisition stage. But over trusting your lawyer with your land to the extent of keeping every document of your property may be risky. Lawyers are not gods, they are human beings subject to temptations. Depriving yourself of the custody of your land documents may give your advocate a smooth transition to full ownership to the property. Keep your documents on your own, you only need a lawyer when acquiring or disposing off a property. In scenarios of abrupt demise, it will only take an effort of a faithful lawyer to reveal all the facts.
Let the Family members know about your property
Do not be so secretive, buy a property and let your people get to know of it. At least your wife, husband, children, close relatives or friends get to know that you have acquired a property. Fraudsters take advantage of properties of the deceased that were unknown to the close associates. Such loophole may help someone forge a title to it and own it up. In short, make people who matter in your life aware of such properties to defend against post-demise property encroachment. Never allow your assets to be lost in vain.
Keep a close eye on your appointed surveyor
Surveyors are key in land measurements, subdividing and title processing plus all the related documents. But ensure that you are better informed about the surveying and documentation process. Cases of surveyors’ dubiously owning portions of the land they previously surveyed have been recorded. Use a professional surveyor registered by the Surveyor’s Registration Board as he would be accountable to that licensing body.
Delegated Ownership should have a side agreement
Delegated ownership is when you choose another person to own a property on your behalf. This is common with people who hide properties for political or other reasons. Such people front their wives, children, relatives or friends to own properties officially on their behalf. This is okay but ensure there is a side documented arrangement to define this. When you put a family property in one of your son’s/daughter’s names or any other person, put it in writing and make other members aware. Some people may use this advantage to fully own up the property unfairly. An agreement helps in case of your death or when the delegated ownership powers are abused for selfish benefits.
Write an agreement for a donated property
f you donate land/property for any purpose to a given individual or organization, ensure that you put that in writing. If you are the receiver of the donation, request for an agreement. Some property wrangles and forgeries have been ignited by the absence of an agreement between the donor and the receiver leaving family members bickering with other claiming parties. Some worshiping places have been in centre of such wrangling.
Identify the real property owners at Purchase
When buying a property, try to verify the true identities of the owners as well as the signatories to the sales agreement. Check for the national identity cards, passports, driving permits to confirm they are genuine. If you just write an agreement with anyone, another person may surface tomorrow to claim for the same property.
Block a Temporary Footpath through your Land
Do not allow people to create a small footpath through your land as this may develop into a bigger public road in the future especially when vehicles start using it. By the time you decide to block this walkway, it may be late as you may be resisted by the users and this portion of land would be gone. This public trespass to the land must stopped in early stages.
Limit time stay of the Compensated Squatters to the property
Once you have squatters that you have compensated, ensure that they leave immediately. They may use their continued stay on the land to claim ownership or carry out unwarranted activities.
Work well with Local Councils
Local council leaders are key verifying a property for sale, but also good for overseeing your property. In some cases, some LC leaders are involved in property sale transaction as witnesses. In case of any forgery where a fraudster wants to sell a property dubiously, such transaction may be blocked at the LC level since these leaders already know the true owner. There are some challenges with working with LCs, but there are still those genuine enough to fight encroachment and don’t ignore them entirely.
To guard your property against any illegal acquisition and use, you need to apply a number of safety measures and approaches. You may not use all the methods mentioned but a few of them depending on the type, nature and location of your property. Getting a property is a one-time effort but protecting it against bad people is your daily duty for the period your ownership of it will last.