The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has signed into law, the Land Use Charge Law 2018 passed on 28 January 2018, by the Lagos State House of Assembly, to repeal and replace the Land Use Charge Law 2001.
What are the new changes?
- Change in formula to calculate the charges based on ‘market’ or commercial value of land and improvements.
- Change in categories of properties exempted. Private cemeteries are now to pay the Land Use Charge. Private libraries will still be exempt but only if they are certified to be non-profit making by the Commissioner of Finance for Lagos State. Only properties owned by religious bodies and used as a place of worship or for religious education are to be exempted. If such properties are leased out to private bodies for revenue generation, then the Land Use Charge will be levied on those properties.
- Change in Persons liable to pay the charge. Now, occupiers holding long leases of 10 years and above are liable to pay the charge. Occupiers in unlawful occupation of property are also liable to pay the Charge.
- Appeal against Assessment. The number of tribunals have been reduced from 15 to 9 with the Tribunal having the power to allow for mediation of the assessment. There are conditions under which this is to be done. The mediation must resolve the dispute within 45 working days or earlier if the mediator declares an impasse. In such cases, the dispute will go back to the Tribunal. It appears that the Government want a gentler approach to the contesting of assessments.
- Increased penalty for non-compliance. The penalty for non-compliance with provisions of the law has been increased to a maximum fine of N250,000 from N100,000.
- Enforcement: The State can now either institute a civil action against the owner or distrain (seizure) of the property.