Land tenure is the relationship among individuals with respect to land. This relationship can be legal or customary. The term "land" also includes other natural resources, such as water and trees. Land tenure is an institution, and the rules governing land tenure were invented by societies to regulate behavior. Tenure rules help defines how property rights to land are allocated within societies.
Importance of Land Tenure
Land tenure is multidimensional. Land tenure helps bring into perspective the social, technical, economic, institutional, legal, and political structures that are often ignored. Relationships of land tenure are well-defined and enforceable in a formal court of law or through customary structures within a community. Although usually well-defined, land tenure rules occasionally are poorly defined, which can lead to exploitation.
Interests in Land
Overriding interests are sovereign powers that have the power to allocate or reallocate land through expropriation. Overlapping interests include several parties that are allocated different rights to the same parcel of land. Complementary interests are different parties sharing the same interest in the same parcel of land. Competing interests are two parties that contest the same interests in the same parcel.
Categories of Land Tenure
Private land tenure is assigned to a private party, such as individuals, married couples, or a group of people. Communal land tenure gives to a community the independence to use land within the community. Open-access land tenure gives no specific right to anyone and no one person can be excluded. State land tenure gives property rights to authorities in the public sector.
Rights to Land under Land Tenure
Use rights give the land owner rights to use the land for grazing, growing crops, and gathering minor forestry products. Control rights give the rights to make decisions, which may include how the land is used and what kind of crops to plant. Transfer rights give the rights to sell or mortgage the land, convey the land to others, transmit the land to heirs, or reallocate use and control rights.