Legal battle as tenant sells government-owned house

What you need to know:

  • The saga began when Raksha Gadhvi, a tenant of the NHC, reportedly sold the house located in the city's Ilala district.

Dar es Salaam. A legal battle is unfolding over the ownership of a house in Dar es Salaam, with the National Housing Corporation (NHC) seeking to reclaim the property after it was allegedly sold by a tenant without authorization.

The saga began when Raksha Gadhvi, a tenant of the NHC, reportedly sold the house located in the city's Ilala district.

NHC contested the sale and filed a case at the High Court, Land Division, seeking to nullify the transaction.

However, the case was dismissed due to a procedural lapse: the allotted time for hearing the case expired before it could be concluded, effectively granting ownership rights to the seller and buyer.

Undeterred, the Attorney General (AG) intervened and appealed to the Court of Appeal in an attempt to safeguard the house and restore NHC's ownership.

The AG filed an application against the tenant who sold the house, Gadhvi, and the buyer, Jehangir Aziz, requesting an extension of time to file an appeal against the High Court's decision.

In the application (No. 147/01 of 2022), the AG argued that the dismissal of the original case was marred by irregularities, citing two key reasons.

He said that the case was dismissed without joining the AG as a key respondent, despite the High Court recognizing amendments to the law regarding cases against the government. Furthermore, he argued that the case was dismissed without giving the AG an opportunity to be heard.

The AG's efforts have yielded initial success, with the Court of Appeal granting the request for an extension of time to file an appeal out of time, effectively allowing the NHC to challenge the High Court's decision.

According to NHC's lawyer, George Kalenda, the house in question (Title No. 1821, Block 1169/199, Jamhuri Street, Ilala) has been owned by the government since 1971.

The government's ownership was gazetted, and the property was transferred to NHC, a public corporation established under the Housing Corporation Act, Cap. 295. NHC subsequently leased the house to several tenants, including Gadhvi.

NHC became aware of the unauthorized sale after noticing a change of ownership notice in a gazette publication, triggered by the buyer's (Aziz) application for a new title deed.

NHC contested the sale by writing to the Registrar of Titles, asserting the government's ownership of the house. NHC also filed a land case at the High Court, Land Division, against the seller/tenant (Gadhvi) and the buyer (Aziz).

In the land case (No. 104/2018), NHC sought to nullify the sale and be declared the rightful owner of the house.

However, on June 3, 2021, Judge Salma Maghimbi dismissed the case due to a delay in hearing beyond the allocated time, effectively recognizing the sale.

The AG's appeal marks a critical step in NHC's quest to reclaim the house.