Land & Property Ownership in The Gambia

Getting this question of property ownership wrong is probably both the most common and the most expensive mistake people make when buying property in Gambia. There are many people who could be made the legal owner of the property or, as the case may be, the shareholders in the company that owns the property.

Who should own the property in Gambia ? The best choice is, often, not obvious. Getting this wrong can cost you tens of thousands of pounds/euro/dollars of totally unnecessary taxes, during your lifetime and on your death.Most local lawyers will be unable to help you make this decision as it involves an understanding of both the local AND your own legal, tax and inheritance systems.

We will be happy to assist you in making this vital decision.

Property Ownership In Gambia What Are The Options?

There are many ways to purchase the property. These include:

  • in your own name alone
  • in your name and in the name of your co-purchaser(s)
  • wholly or partly in your children’s
  • names or in the name of somebody
  • whom you would like (eventually!) to inherit the property from you
  • in the name of a limited company,
  • whether English, Gambian or “off-shore”
  • via your SIPP/SSAS pension fund
  • via an investment fund (REIT, PUT etc)
  • via an investment club
  • via a trust

Freehold & Leasehold Properties in The Gambia

Land in the Gambia is registered at the Property Registry (an organisation just like the English Land Registry), where you can confirm immediately whether the seller owns the property free of any liens and encumbrances. Just as in Europe, however, there is still plenty of land/property which remains as yet unregistered.

To avoid any ensuing confusion it is necessary for European purchasers/sellers to understand the difference between the terms freehold and leasehold used both there and in Gambia. These terms have very different implications in Gambia to those in Europe. In Gambia there is no such thing as absolute ownership of land and property.

This is because all the land is ultimately owned by the Government and is leased to any private purchaser for a period of 99 years but this confusingly DOES NOT constitue leasehold land. This land/property can be either leasehold or freehold depending on whether or not it has been registered at the Property Registry

If it is unregistered it has a freehold status, whereas registered land/property is denoted leasehold. It is important to register previously freehold land/property as leasehold at the Property Registry during the purchasing process thus documenting your unequivocal ownership of the same