Property ownership in the Zanzibar Archipelago is governed by the laws of Zanzibar. All property is owned by the government. Beachfront property is generally considered investment property and both citizens and non-citizens can acquire it by renewable long-term leases. They are required to provide adequate compensation to the current holders of the land who then waive all rights to the land. The lease period is generally for 33 years and is renewable.
If you are planning to use the property for business investment purposes (a hotel, etc), you also must register as a company in Zanzibar (both citizens and non-citizens) or, alternatively, obtain a certificate of compliance for an existing foreign-held company. Development projects generally are approved through the Zanzibar's "One-Stop" Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA.) Many investors use a lawyer to facilitate this process.
What are the building restrictions on plots? Will I own the beach?
The lease documents identify the boundaries within which you can construct permanent buildings. For environmental and safety reasons, beachfront plots are setback from the high tide line from 10 meters for cliff property to 30 meters for flat property. While you can't construct permanent buildings in this zone, the area is yours to use and you can erect shade bandas or decks, etc. there. You can also remove the brush that might be blocking your view. Removal of large trees (in all of Pemba) requires a permit. All beaches on Zanzibar and Pemba islands are public property.
How are the prices set? Are they negotiable?
Prices are set by the owners and, in many cases, they are negotiable. The location, the size of the plot, meters of beach front and the quality of the beach and other environmental features are all factors in determining a fair price for the property.
What is the basic process for buying property in Pemba?
Acquiring property in Pemba requires approval by the village committee and village chairperson, who is also responsible for certifying the seller's ownership of the property; the preparation of a sales/compensation agreement between buyer/lessee and seller; a land survey, if one has not been done; and application for a lease and/or, in the case of local buyers, application for a property transfer. (We handle this process for you!)
What are your fees and who pays them?
Our commission varies from 3% to 8% depending on the price of the property and the complexity of ownership issues. The amount is included in the sales price and covers the basic steps outlined above to complete the sale.
Can we hire you directly?
If you have already identified a piece of property and would like us to represent you, we'd be happy to do so at a reasonable fee. We can also help you with obtaining a title and making arrangements for property development.
If you are planning an investment project, we can also help you with the ZIPA process or recommend a reliable lawyer/ facilitator to assist you if needed.
How much does it cost to bring in water, electricity and roads to a property?
This will vary by the property, its location and particular characteristics but, in general, the overall cost is far lower than what you would expect to pay in developed countries. Labor costs are low here so the biggest expense is usually the materials involved.
How do I get to Pemba and how can I see the properties?
Pemba is easily reached by quick daily flights from the international airports in Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar. We'll be happy to help with your arrangements for staying on the islands and will take you around to see the properties when you arrive. Please contact us by email or phone (see contact information below.)
Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. We're happy to help and will do our best to make sure you have all the information and assistance you need. These islands are our home and, if you do buy property here, you'll be more than just a client--you'll be a welcome member of our community!