Land Grants in Sri Lanka & Everything You Need to Know About It

Did you know that in Sri Lanka, if you don’t own land to live on, you can still apply for one through a government scheme? This may be news to many, but it’s a program that has been in existence for quite some time. It’s called a land grant and can be obtained after completing the necessary documents. Of course, the process may take some time, but it’s still possible to own a plot through this program.

To apply for a land grant, you need to submit a written request to the divisional secretary in your area. Once the application is registered, a plot will be allocated during land kachcheries, which are structured meetings where land-related matters are addressed.

What are the eligibility requirements to obtain a grant?

To apply for a land grant, you need to follow the instructions below:

  • You should have obtained land on permit under the Land Development Ordinance.
  • The land should be well developed. If the land is granted for residence, a house should be constructed, and you should live there.
  • All payments due to the state should have been paid and completed.

The deed you receive after a plot has been allocated to you is called the grant. This is a legal document that ensures your ownership of the land you have developed under the Land Development Ordinance permit.

So, what conditions should you satisfy to get this grant? For starters, you should have obtained the land on permit under the Land Development Ordinance. Following this, the land should be developed. If it was granted to you for residential purposes, a house should have been constructed on it, and you should be living there. You should have also made all due payments to the state and completed all settlements and arrears.

How to obtain the grant?

  • If you have fulfilled the above eligibility requirements, submit your application to the Grama Niladhari.
  • The Grama Niladhari will inspect the land and submit a report to the Divisional Secretary.
  • The Land Officer/Colonization Officer will also inspect the land and submit a report to the Divisional Secretary, certifying that you have developed the land.
  • The Divisional Secretary will have the land surveyed by the Department of Survey, put boundary stones, and obtain a plan.
  • After obtaining the plan, the Divisional Secretary will prepare the grant and send it to the Land Commissioner General through the Provincial Land Commissioner.
  • The Land Commissioner General will examine the grant, and if it is in order, will send it to the Secretary to the President for His Excellency the President’s signature.
  • After receiving the duly signed grant, it will be sent to the Divisional Secretary.
  • The Divisional Secretary will inform you to pay Rs. 100/= as service charges for the grant.
  • You should take action to pay that amount without delay.
  • After that, the Divisional Secretary will register the grant at the land registry and will give you the grant.

There are three different types of grants issued in Sri Lanka:

  1. Swarnaboomi
  2. Jayabhoomi
  3. Ranbima

There are many benefits you can gain by obtaining a grant. When compared to a permit, a grant is signed by the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and gives you full ownership of the land. It is permanent and can’t be canceled like a permit that is subject to particular conditions.

Because of this, you can use the grant to apply for a mortgage loan as well when you need funding to develop the land or repair the house. You can use it as security when applying for a loan for your children and as surety in court.

When applying for a bank loan using this land grant, there is a separate procedure. The following documents should be first handed over to the Divisional Secretary to obtain permission before you can proceed with the loan:

  • Letter obtained from the relevant bank
  • Requesting letter
  • Copies of grant (deed)
  • Title reports

If you want to use the land and get a mortgage on it, you should:

  1. Submit your application to the Divisional Secretary, and he will obtain reports from the Grama Niladhari/Colonization Officer.
  1. The original grant and the relevant folio sheet obtained from the Land Registry concerned should be submitted.
  1. A letter from the institution from where you expect to get the loan or mortgage, along with a draft of the agreement prepared by the lending institution, should be handed over to the Divisional Secretary.
  1. The Divisional Secretary will issue the approval letter, together with the approved draft of the loan agreement.
  1. This letter and the approved loan agreement should be submitted to the relevant lending institution.

When the loan on this grant is defaulted, similar to normal circumstances, it may be confiscated by the particular lending organization. To recover the loan amount, they may sell the land, which can be purchased by anyone. But when the purchaser wants to resell this land, he is bound by the conditions of the grant. Because of this, before making arrangements to sell this plot, prior approval should be obtained from the Divisional Secretary or Land Commissioner.

In addition to this, since a land grant is much different from owning land in the normal way, there are also restrictions when it comes to transferring the property.

Land obtained through a grant can only be transferred among relatives. But there is also an exception where the property can be transferred to farmers without resulting in a loss for the grant’s owner or their family.

Who can get ownership of land obtained through a grant?

  • Husband/wife, kids, or blood relatives
  • Subject to the restrictions in the grant, you are free to split the land any way you wish and transfer it to your offspring.
  • If necessary, you could transfer ownership to your spouse.
  • If not, you can transfer ownership to a blood relative.

For more details on getting a land grant, visit the Provincial Land Commissioner’s Department (Western Province) Sri Lanka website. 

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