Registered Land Act
- Commenced on 9 May 1967
- [This is the version of this document as it was at 31 December 2014.]
- [Note: This version of the Act was revised and consolidated in the Fifth Revised Edition of the Laws of Malawi (L.R.O. 1/2018), by the Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice under the authority of the Revision of the Laws Act.]
Part I – Preliminary
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Registered Land Act.
2. InterpretationIn this Act, except where the context otherwise requires—"Allocation Officer" and "Allocation Record" have the meanings assigned to "Allocation Officer" and "Allocation Record" in the Customary Land (Development) Act;[Cap. 59:01]"application book" means the application book kept under section 5(d);"charge" means an interest in land securing the payment of money or money’s worth or the fulfilment of any condition, and includes a subcharge and the instrument creating a charge;"chargee" means the proprietor of a charge;"chargor" means the proprietor of charged land or of a charged lease or charge;"court", save as is otherwise expressly provided, means the High Court or a subordinate court held by a Resident Magistrate;"dealing" includes disposition and transmission;"disposition" means any act by a proprietor whereby his rights in or over his land, lease or charge are affected, but does not include an agreement to transfer, lease or charge;"easement" means a right attached to a piece of land which allows the proprietor of the piece either to use the land of another in a particular manner or to restrict its use to a particular extent, but does not include a profit;"to file" means to place in the relative piece file;"guardian" means any person responsible (whether under customary law or otherwise) for protecting the interests of any person who is under a disability, whether by reason of age, unsoundness of mind or any other cause;"incumbrance" means a lease, charge, easement, restrictive agreement or profit;"instrument" includes any deed, judgment, decree, order or other document requiring or capable of registration under this Act;"interest in land" includes ownership of land;"land" includes land covered with water, all things growing on land and buildings and other things permanently affixed to land;"Land Register" means the Land Register compiled under Division 2 of Part II;"lease" means the grant with or without consideration, by the proprietor of land of the right to the exclusive possession of his land, and includes the right so granted and the instrument granting it, and also includes a sublease, but does not include an agreement for lease;"lessee" means the holder of a lease;"lessor" means the proprietor of leased land;"licence" means a permission given by the proprietor of land or a lease which allows the licensee to do some act in relation to the land or the land comprised in the lease which would otherwise be a trespass, but does not include an easement or a profit;"piece" means an area of land separately delineated on the registry map and given a number;"periodic tenancy" means a tenancy from year to year, half-year to half-year, quarter to quarter, month to month, week to week or the like;"personal representative" means executor of the will or administrator of the estate or part of the estate;"private land" bears the same meaning as in section 2 of the Land Act;[Cap. 57:01]"profit" means the right to go on the land of another and take a particular substance from that land;"proprietor" means the person registered under this Act as the owner of land or a lease or a charge;"the register" means the leaf of the land register kept in respect of a piece of land or of a registered lease;"to register" means to make an entry, note or record in the register, and "registered", "unregistered" and "registration" bear a corresponding meaning;"Registrar" means—(a)the Chief Land Registrar or the Deputy Chief Land Registrar, appointed under section 6; or(b)where a Land Registrar or an Assistant Land Registrar has been authorized under section 6 (4) to exercise or perform any particular power or duty, that Land Registrar or Assistant Land Registrar so far as concerns that power or duty;"registration district" means a land registration district constituted under section 4;"registration section" means a division of a registration district established under section 15 (3);"registry" means a land registry established under section 5;"registry map" means the map or series of maps referred to in section 15;"transfer" means the passing of land, a lease or a charge by act of the parties and not by operation of law, and also the instrument by which such passing is effected;"transmission" means the passing of land, a lease or a charge from one person to another by operation of law on death or insolvency or otherwise howsoever, and includes the compulsory acquisition of land under any written law;"trustee" includes personal representative;"valuable consideration" includes marriage, but does not include a nominal consideration.
3. Reconciliation with other lawsExcept as otherwise provided in this Act, no other written law and no practice or procedure relating to land shall apply to land registered under this Act so far as it is inconsistent with this Act:Provided that, except where a contrary intention appears, nothing contained in this Act shall be construed as permitting any dealing which is forbidden by the express provisions of any other written law or as overriding any provision of any other written law requiring the consent or approval of any authority to any dealing.
Part II – Organization and administration
Division 1 - Land registries and officers
4. Registration districts
5. Land registriesThere shall be maintained in each registration district a land registry, in which there shall be kept—
6. Appointment of officers
7. General powers of RegistrarThe Registrar may exercise the following powers in addition to any other powers conferred on him by this Act, that is to say—
8. Indemnity of officersThe Chief Land Registrar shall not, nor shall any other officer of the Registry, be liable to any action or proceedings for or in respect of any act or matter done or omitted to be done in good faith in the exercise or supposed exercise of the powers of this Act, or any rules made thereunder.
9. Seal of registryEach registry shall have a seal, and every instrument purporting to bear the imprint of such a seal shall be received in evidence and, unless the contrary is shown, shall be deemed without further proof to be issued by or under the direction of the Chief Land Registrar.
Division 2 — The Land Register
10. The Land Register
11. Compilation of Land Register
11A. Transitional provisions relating to rights, etc., acquired under charges, etc., registered underNothing in this Act shall affect the rights, liabilities and remedies of the parties under any mortgage, charge, equitable mortgage or other form of security which, immediately before the registration under this Act of the land affected thereby, was registered under the Deeds Registration Act, and such rights liabilities and remedies shall be exercisable and enforceable in accordance with the law which was applicable thereto immediately before the registration of the land under this Act.[Cap. 58:02]
12. Manner of registration
13. Cancellation of obsolete entriesThe Registrar may cancel any entry in the register which he is satisfied has ceased to have any effect.
14. New editionsThe Registrar at any time may open a new edition of a register showing only subsisting entries and omitting therefrom all entries that have ceased to have any effect.
Division 3 — Maps, parcels and boundaries
15. Registry map
16. Power to alter registry map and to prepare new editions
17. Further surveysThe Registrar may cause a survey to be made for any purpose connected with this Act, but, where the registry map is maintained by the Director of Surveys such survey shall be used to amend the registry map only if it is approved by the Director of Surveys.
18. General boundaries
19. Fixed boundaries
20. Maintenance of boundary features
21. Interference with boundary features
22. Combinations and subdivisions
23. Change of boundaries
Part III – Effect of registration
24. Interest conferred by registrationSubject to this Act—
24A. Effect of registration with provisional titleSubject to this Act, the registration of any person as the proprietor of a piece of private land with a provisional title shall not affect or prejudice the enforcement of any estate, right or interest adverse to or in derogation of the title of that proprietor arising before the date title of such registration, or under such instrument or in such other manner as is specified in the register of that piece, but save as aforesaid, such registration shall have the same effect as the registration of a person without such qualification.
25. Rights of proprietorThe rights of a proprietor, whether acquired on first registration or whether acquired subsequently for valuable consideration or by an order of court, shall be rights not liable to be defeated except as provided in this Act and the Land Act and shall be held by the proprietor, free from all other interests and claims whatsoever, but subject—
26. Voluntary transferEvery proprietor who has acquired land, a lease or a charge by transfer without valuable consideration shall hold it subject to any unregistered rights or interests subject to which the transferor held it, and subject also to the Bankruptcy Act and to the winding-up provisions of the Companies Act, but save as aforesaid such transfer when registered shall in all respects have the same effect as a transfer for valuable consideration.[Cap. 11:01; Cap. 46:03]
27. Overriding interestsUnless the country is expressed in the register, all registered land shall be subject to such of the following overriding interests as may for the time being subsist and affect the same, without their being noted on the register—
27A. Conversion of provisional title
28. Entries to constitute actual noticeEvery proprietor acquiring any land, lease or charge shall be deemed to have had notice of every entry in the register relating to the land, lease or charge.
Part IV – Searches and certificates
29. Searches and copies
29A. Land certificates and certificates of lease
29B. Production of certificate
29C. Lost or destroyed certificates
Part V – Dispositions
Division 1 — General
31. Subsequent dealings
32. Protection of persons dealing in registered land
33. Additional fee for delayed registrationWhere an instrument is presented for registration later than three months from the date of the instrument, then, as well as the registration fee, an additional fee equal to the registration fee shall be payable for each three months which have elapsed since such date:Provided that—
34. Power to compel registration
35. Priority of registered interests
36. Stay of registration
37. Merger of registered interestsWhere, upon the registration of a dealing, the interests of—
Division 2 — Leases
38. LeasesSubject to this Act and any other written law, the proprietor of land may lease the land or part of it to any person for a definite period or for a period which though indefinite may be terminated by the lessor or the lessee, and subject to such conditions as he may think fit:Provided that, if only part is leased, the lease shall be accompanied by a plan or other description which the Registrar, in his absolute discretion, deems adequate to identify the part leased.
39. Periodic tenancies
40. Registration of leasesA lease for a specified period exceeding three years, or a lease which contains an option whereby the lessee may require the lessor to grant him a further term or terms which, together with the original term, exceed three years, shall be in the prescribed form, and shall be completed by—
41. Lessor’s consent to dealing with leaseUpon the registration of a lease containing an agreement, express or implied, by the lessee that he will not transfer, sub-let, charge or part with possession of the land leased or any part thereof without the written consent of the lessor, the agreement shall be noted in the register of the lease, and no dealing with the lease shall be registered until the consent of the lessor, verified in accordance with section 105 has been produced to the Registrar.
42. Lease of charged landWhere any land or a lease is subject to a charge, no lease of such land or lease shall be registered without the previous consent in writing of the proprietor of the charge, verified in accordance with section 105, unless the charge expressly dispenses with the necessity for such consent.
43. Duration of leases
44. Future leases
45. Holding over
46. Agreements implied in leases on part of lessorSave as otherwise expressly provided in the lease, there shall be implied in every lease agreements by the lessor with the lessee binding the lessor—
47. Agreements implied in leases on part of lesseeSave as otherwise expressly provided in the lease, there shall be implied in every lease agreements by the lessee with the lessor binding the lessee—
48. Meaning of "in repair"Where an agreement is contained or implied in any lease to keep a building or a particular part of a building "in repair", it shall, in the absence of an express provision to the contrary, mean in such state of repair as that in which a prudent owner might reasonably be expected to keep his property, due allowance being made for the age, character and locality of the building at the commencement of the lease:Provided that there shall not be read into such an agreement an undertaking to put any building into a better state of repair than that in which it was at the commencement of the lease.
49. Lessor’s right of forfeiture
50. Effect of forfeiture on subleasesThe forfeiture of a lease shall terminate every sublease and every other interest appearing in the register relating to that lease, but—
51. Notice before forfeitureNotwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the lease, no lessor shall be entitled to exercise the right of forfeiture for the breach of any agreement or condition in the lease, whether expressed or implied, until the lessor has served on the lessee a written notice—
52. Relief against forfeiture
53. Variation and extension of leasesSubject to section 51, the agreements and conditions contained or implied in any registered lease may be varied, negatived or added to, and the period of any registered lease may from time to time be extended, by an instrument executed by the lessor and the lessee for the time being and registered before the expiration of the then current term of the lease.
54. Substitution of leasesWhere upon the presentation of a lease for registration the Registrar is satisfied that the lessee is the person registered as the proprietor of a prior lease in respect of the same land, he shall cancel the registration of the prior lease and register the new lease subject to the incumbrances registered against the prior lease.
56. Surrender of leases
57. Determination of leases
58. Voluntary registration of leasesWhere application is made to the Registrar to register any lease which is not compulsorily registrable under this Act but which is capable of registration, the Registrar shall not register such lease unless—
59. ***[Repealed by 1 of 1981]
Division 3 — Charges
60. Form and effect of charges
61. Second or subsequent chargesA proprietor whose land or lease or charge is subject to a charge may create a second or subsequent charge in the same manner as the first charge and the same provisions shall apply thereto, but any sale under the power expressed or implied in any such charge shall be expressed to be subject to all prior charges unless all those charges have been discharged.
62. Presumption that money paid is interestIf any question arises whether any payment made by the chargor is in respect of principal or interest, such payment shall be presumed to be in respect of interest to the extent of all interest which is due and payable at the date of payment.
63. Agreements implied in chargesThere shall be implied in every charge, unless the contrary is expressed therein, such agreements by the chargor with the charge binding the chargor as may be prescribed by the Minister.
64. Chargee’s consent to transferWhere a charge contains an agreement, express or implied, by the chargor with the chargee that he will not transfer the land, lease or charge charged or any part thereof without the written consent of the chargee, the agreement shall be noted in the register, and no transfer by the chargor shall be registered until the written consent of the chargee, verified in accordance with section 105, has been produced to the Registrar.
65. Variation of chargeThe amount secured, the method of repayment, the rate of interest or the term of the charge may be varied by the registration of an instrument of variation executed by the parties to the charge, but no such variation shall affect the rights of the proprietor of any subsequent charge, unless he has consented to the variation in writing on the instrument of variation.
66. Right of redemption
67. Right of third party to transfer of chargeOn his tendering to the chargee such sums as would have been payable to the chargee if the chargor had sought to redeem the charge under section 66, any of the following persons, that is to say—
68. Chargee’s remedies
69. Appointment, powers, remuneration and duties of receiver
70. Chargee’s powers of leasing
71. Power of sale
72. Application of purchase moneyThe purchase money received by a chargee who has exercised his power of sale, after discharge of any prior encumbrances to which the sale is not made subject or after payment into court of a sum sufficient to meet any such prior encumbrances, shall be applied—
73. Variation of powersSections 66 (2) and (3), 68, 69, 70 and 71 may in their application to a charge be varied or added to in the charge:Provided that any such variation or addition shall not be acted upon, unless the court, having regard to the proceedings and conduct of the parties and to the circumstances of the case, so orders.
74. No right of entry into possession or foreclosureFor the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that the chargee shall not be entitled to foreclose, nor to enter into possession of the charged land or the land comprised in a charged lease or to receive the rents and profits thereof by reason only that default has been made in the payment of the principal sum or of any interest or other periodical payment or of any part thereof or in the performance or observance of any agreement expressed or implied in the charge.
75. Discharge of charge
76. Satisfaction of chargesUpon proof to the satisfaction of the Registrar—
77. Further advancesProvision may be made in the charge for a chargee to make further advances or give credit to the chargor on a current or continuing account, but, unless that provision is noted in the register, further advances shall not rank in priority to any subsequent charge except with the consent in writing of the proprietor of the subsequent charge.
78. ConsolidationA chargee has no right to consolidate his charge with any other charge unless the right is expressly reserved in the charges or in one of them and is noted in the register against all the charges so consolidated.
Division 4 — Transfers
80. Certificates as to payment of ratesThe Registrar shall not register any instrument purporting to transfer or to vest any land, or a lease of land, situated within the area of a rating authority unless there is produced to the Registrar a written statement by the authority that all rates and other charges payable to the authority in respect of the land for the last twelve years have been paid, expressed to be available until the day upon which, or until a day not earlier than that upon which, the instrument was registered:Provided that no such statement shall be required where the instrument relates to—
81. Transfer to take effect immediatelyA transfer to take effect on the happening of any event or on the fulfilment of any condition or at any future time shall not be capable of registration.
82. Conditions repugnant to interest transferred
83. Transfer of partNo part of the land comprised in a register shall be transferred unless the proprietor has first subdivided the land and new registers have been opened in respect of each subdivision.
84. Transfer of leaseOn the transfer of a lease, unless the contrary is expressed in the transfer, there shall be implied—
85. Effect of transfer on agreements in leaseA transferee from a lessor or from a lessee shall possess all the rights, and be subject to all the liabilities, of the lessor or lessee, as the case may be, expressed or implied in the lease, or arising or which have arisen thereunder, and the transferor shall cease to be under any obligation or possessed of any rights in respect of the lease:Provided that nothing in this section shall affect the rights or liabilities of the lessor or lessee, as the case may be, in respect of a breach of any of the agreements expressed or implied in the lease which occurred before the transfer.
86. Transfer subject to chargeIn every transfer of land or a lease subject to a charge, there shall be implied an agreement by the transferee with the transferor to pay the interest secured by the charge at the rate and at the times and in the manner specified in the charge and to keep the transferor indemnified against the principal sum secured by the charge and from and against all liability in respect of any of the agreements on the part of the transferor therein contained or implied.
87. Transfer subject to leaseA transfer of land which is subject to a lease shall be valid without the lessee acknowledging the transferee as lessor, but nothing in this section—
88. Transfer of unregistered leaseA transfer of a lease of registered land, which lease does not require registration and is not so registered, shall not itself require registration, but if application is made to the Registrar to register such transfer, he shall not do so unless the transfer is in the prescribed form and the lease and prior transfers or other dealings therewith have been registered.
Division 5 — Easements, restrictive agreements, profits and licences
90. Restrictive agreements
92. Release and extinguishment of easements, profits and restrictive agreements
93. Discharge and modification of easements, profits and restrictive agreementThe court shall have power, on the application of any person interested in land affected by an easement, restrictive agreement or profit by order wholly or partially to extinguish or modify any such easement, profit or restrictive agreement (with or without payment by the applicant of compensation to any person suffering loss in consequence of the order), on being satisfied—
Division 6 — Co-proprietorship and partition
95. Registration of more than one proprietor
96. Characteristics of joint proprietorship and severance thereof
97. Characteristics of proprietorship in common
98. Partition of land owned in common
99. When Registrar may order sale
100. Procedure where share small
101. Partition of family land
Division 7 — Succession on death
102. Succession on deathSubject to Part VII, nothing in this Act shall affect the law of testate or intestate succession.
Part VI – Instruments and agents
103. Form of instruments
104. Execution of instruments
105. Verification of execution
106. StampsNo instrument required by law to be stamped shall be accepted for registration unless it is duly stamped.
107. Disposal of instrumentsSubject to subsection (2) and to section 109 (2), all instruments accepted by the Registrar shall be retained in the registry for as long as they support a current entry in the register and for six years thereafter.
109. Agents and persons under disability
110. Gift to person under disabilityA person under a disability who has been registered as proprietor of land, a lease or a charge acquired by him by way of gift may, within six months after he ceases to be under a disability, repudiate the gift if he has not already disposed of the subject-matter thereof, but no such repudiation shall be effective until—
111. Powers of attorney
112. Effect of registered power of attorney
Part VII – Transmissions, trusts and family representation
113. Transmission on death of joint proprietorIf one of two or more joint proprietors of any land, lease or charge dies, the Registrar, on proof to his satisfaction of the death, shall delete the name of the deceased from the register.
114. Transmission on death of sole proprietor or proprietor in common
115. Effect of transmission by death
116. Transmission on bankruptcy
118. Transmission in other casesWhere the Government or any person has become entitled to any land, lease or charge under any law or by virtue of any order or certificate of sale made or issued under any law, the Registrar shall, on the application of any interested person supported by such evidence as he may require, register the Government or the person entitled as the proprietor.
121. Family representation
122. Replacement of family representative
Part VIII – Restraints on disposition
Division 1 — Inhibitions
123. Power of court to inhibit registered dealings
124. Effect of inhibitionSo long as an inhibition remains registered, no instrument which is inconsistent with it shall be registered.
125. Cancellation of inhibitionThe registration of an inhibition shall be cancelled in the following cases and in no others—
Division 2 — Cautions
126. Lodging of cautions
127. Notice and effect of caution
128. Withdrawal and removal of caution
129. Second caution in respect of same matterThe Registrar may refuse to accept a further caution by the same person or anyone on his behalf in relation to the same matter as a previous caution.
130. Wrongful cautionsAny person who lodges or maintains a caution wrongfully and without reasonable cause shall be liable, in an action for damages at the suit of any person who has thereby sustained damage, to pay compensation to such person.
Division 3 — Restrictions
132. Notice and effect of restriction
133. Removal and variation of restrictions
Part IX – Prescription
134. Acquisition of land by prescription
135. Principles of possession
136. Procedure on application
137. Acquisition of easements and profits by prescription
Part X – Rectification and indemnity
138. Rectification by Registrar
139. Rectification by court
140. Right to indemnity
141. Amount of indemnityWhere an indemnity is awarded in respect of the loss of any interest in land, it shall not exceed—
142. Procedure for claiming indemnityThe Registrar may, on the application of any interested party, determine whether a right of indemnity has arisen under this Part and, if so, award indemnity, and may add thereto any costs and expenses properly incurred in relation to the matter.
143. Recovery of indemnity paidWhere any moneys are paid by way of indemnity under this Part, the Minister shall be entitled to recover by suit or otherwise the amount so paid from any person who has caused or substantially contributed to the loss by his fraud or negligence, and to enforce any express or implied agreement or other right which the person who is indemnified would have been entitled to enforce in relation to the matter in respect of which the indemnity has been paid.
144. Errors in survey
Part XI – Decisions of Registrar and appeals
145. Power of Registrar to state caseWhenever any question arises with regard to the exercise of any power or the performance of any duty conferred or imposed on him by this Act, the Registrar may state a case for the opinion of the High Court; and thereupon the High Court shall give its opinion thereon, which shall be binding upon the Registrar.
147. Effect of appeal on disposition
148. Appeal rulesThe Chief Justice may make rules of Court for regulating applications and appeals to the Court under this Act, and for the fees to be paid in respect thereof.
Part XII – Miscellaneous
149. AddressesAny person who under this Act submits a caution or any instrument for registration, or is the proprietor of any land, lease or charge, shall furnish to the Registrar in writing a postal address within Malawi for service, and shall notify him in writing of any change in that address:Provided that the Registrar may in his discretion dispense with this requirement in regard to any particular registration or kind of registration.
150. Service of noticesA notice under this Act shall be deemed to have been served on or given to any person—
151. Meaning of "opportunity of being heard"
154. Recovery of fees and expensesUnpaid fees or expenses incurred by the Registrar shall constitute a civil debt recoverable by the Registrar in a magistrate’s court.
155. Enforcement of Registrar’s orders for paymentAn order for the payment of a sum of money made by the Registrar under any power conferred by this Act shall be enforceable by a magistrate’s court as if it were an order of that court.
156. Jurisdiction of courtsCivil suits and proceedings relating to the ownership or the possession of land, or to a lease or charge, registered under this Act, or to any interest in any such land, lease or charge, being an interest which is registered or registrable under this Act, or being an interest which is referred to in section 27, shall, notwithstanding the Courts Act, be tried by the High Court, or, where the value of the subject matter in dispute does not exceed £200, by the High Court or a subordinate court held by a Resident Magistrate.[Cap. 3:02]
157. RulesThe Minister may make rules generally to give effect to the purposes and provisions of this Act, and in particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, for prescribing the forms to be used under this Act and the fees payable for anything to be done thereunder, and for prescribing anything which under this Act may be prescribed.
158. Savings of rightsNothing in this Act shall prejudice any of the interests, rights, powers and privileges conferred on the Minister or the Government by any other written law.
159. Act to bind GovernmentExcept as otherwise provided, this Act binds the Government.
160. Other lawAny matter not provided for in this Act, or in any other written law relating to land, leases and charges registered under this Act and interests therein, shall be decided in accordance with the principles of justice, equity and good conscience.
History of this document
09 May 1967