This section does not intend to address all forms of shared tenure, such as family tenure, communal tenure, community titling, and land market transactions, but rather focuses on joint titling and tenure when the state carries out land distribution programs allocating titles, uses, leases or other rights to land and housing, and for women in marriage or non-formal, conjugal unions.
Compulsory joint tenure
Legislation should provide for compulsory joint tenure as the default regime when conducting land or housing allocation to households or when spouses marry. In this case, both spouses will hold land and/or housing either through a joint title or by holding equal rights over the property. Non-formal unions should also be subject to compulsory joint tenure or co-ownership. (See: UN-Habitat, Policy Makers Guide to Women’s Land, Property and Housing Rights across the World, 2007; UN-HABITAT, Shared Tenure Options for Women, 2005) Drafters should repeal optional joint tenure as the default regime in these cases.
Rwanda’s Organic Land Law provides three alternative matrimonial regimes for spouses to choose from, but if no affirmative choice is elected, spouses are presumed to be married under the community of property regime and maintain joint ownership of their moveable, immovable, present and future property. In effect, therefore, women who have attained beneficial rights to land (such as through marriage or inheritance) are protected under the law. The law also specifies that consent from all beneficiaries must be obtained in case of any land transfer, mortgage or lease. (See: Arts. 34-38). The law applies only to legal, non-polygamous marriages.
Compulsory joint titling
Where states allocate lands or housing using a titling scheme or reform marital property systems, legislation should provide for compulsory joint titling of marital property, particularly in societies that bequeath land through the patrilineal side. Non-formal unions should also be subject to compulsory joint titling or to co-ownership/co-tenureship where documentation or fee requirements hinder such registration.