Recent Amendments for the Land Development Ordinance of Sri Lanka – What You Need to Know
The recent Land Development (Amendment) Act, No 11 of 2022 brought many changes to the Land Development Ordinance of Sri Lanka. Here, we summarise the amendments for the general public, since there are significant changes that are important.
1. You don’t need permission from the Divisional Secretary to use your property as a mortgage with specific banks or institutions. These include licensed commercial banks, the State Mortgage and Investment Bank, the Development Finance Corporation of Ceylon, the National Development Bank of Sri Lanka, the National Housing Development Authority, the Housing Development Finance Corporation Bank of Sri Lanka, registered societies, and other institutions listed by law.
2. You cannot give away State Land that has not been surveyed by the Surveyor-General through a grant.
3. Whenever a piece of land is given away as a grant, it should be described using a plan that has been made or authorized by the Surveyor-General and is kept under their control. This plan must be attached to every grant.
4. The President has the power to cancel the grant of a piece of land if they believe that: there is no one who has the legal right to take over the land or no one who has the right is willing to do so, or the grant was obtained dishonestly using false information, or the grant was given to someone who was not the rightful owner of the land.
- If the Commissioner-General of Lands receives information from someone who has an interest in the land ownership under this law, and it seems like the landowner intentionally lied to get a grant, or the grant was given to someone who was not the rightful owner, the Commissioner-General of Lands will send a notice to the landowner or occupier of the land using a specific form.
- The notice sent by the Commissioner-General of Lands will say that the land grant can be canceled for certain reasons unless the landowner can show enough evidence to prove otherwise. The landowner must present this evidence to the Commissioner-General of Lands at a specific date, time, and place specified in the notice.
- The Commissioner-General of Lands can also give a copy of the notice to someone who has an interest in the land ownership under this law, based on the information they have.
- The landowner will have at least thirty days from receiving the notice from the Commissioner-General of Lands to prepare and provide evidence. The date when the evidence needs to be presented will be specified in the notice.
- The landowner will receive the notice from the Commissioner-General of Lands through registered post. A copy of the notice will also be put up in an easy-to-see place on the land itself. If the landowner can’t be found by regular means, the notice can still be considered adequately given if it’s given to a family member or someone who lives with them. If there is no one like that available, the notice can be considered properly given if it’s put up in a visible spot on the landowner’s house.
- If a landowner doesn’t show up for the meeting specified in the notice, or if they show up and can’t provide a good reason why the land grant shouldn’t be canceled, the Commissioner-General of Lands can recommend to the Minister in charge of Lands that the grant be canceled. The Commissioner-General of Lands can make this recommendation if they’re sure that the notice was given correctly and that the land grant was obtained dishonestly. They’ll explain why they think the grant should be canceled.
- If needed, the Minister in charge of Lands can ask the Commissioner-General of Lands for more information about their recommendation to cancel a land grant.
- If the Minister agrees that there are valid reasons to cancel the land grant, they will send the Commissioner-General of Lands’ recommendation to the President.
- After reviewing the recommendation, the President can decide whether or not to cancel the grant.
- Once the President makes a decision, the Commissioner-General of Lands will inform the relevant people and take the necessary steps to follow the President’s order.
5. According to Section 51 of the principal enactment of the Land Development Ordinance Act of Sri Lanka, you need permission from the Government Agent before you can name someone else to own or take care of your protected property. The only exceptions are if the person is your spouse or belongs to the specific group of relatives listed in Rule 01 of the Third Schedule.
However, this is repealed in the Land Development (Amendment) Act, No. 11 of 2022 and instead, the following Schedule is substituted.
- The list of family members who can be chosen as the next owner of your protected property, as stated in section 51 (described above), should be chosen in the following order of succession.
ii) Grand Children
v) Uncles and Aunts
vi) Nephews and Nieces
- When the owner of a property dies, if there is no person named to take over a property, or if the person named is unable to do so, then the property will be passed down according to the above list of succession. If multiple relatives are in a group, the older relative will be chosen first, irrespective of gender.
- If there are multiple family members of the same age who are equally qualified and willing to take over a property, the decision on who will receive the property will be made by the Divisional Secretary in charge of the area where the property is located.
- Even though what was said in the above sections, the following circumstances, if applicable, will take priority.
i) If someone on the list of potential successors mentioned in the list above is responsible for developing the land, they will be given priority over the older person to take over the property.
ii) If there are multiple people on the list of potential successors mentioned in the table below who have developed the land, they will be given priority to take over the property.
- If a family member who is supposed to inherit the property does not want it, the property will go to the next family member in the list of succession mentioned above.
- The Divisional Secretary can choose who should inherit the property based on specific guidelines and rules. The guidelines and rules will be determined by the local authority and other laws related to property ownership. The Divisional Secretary will make a decision based on the relevant information presented to them.
More information on the recent amendments to the Land Development Ordinance can be viewed at www.parliament.lk/uploads/acts/gbills/english/6245.pdf
Posted Date: 12th April 2023