The Right of Preemption

Another method for land acquisition involves the right of preemption, which falls between voluntary and involuntary means. In Islamic jurisprudence, this method is called shu’fa and it gives a right of first refusal over the sale of a given land or property to its direct neighbors. A similar approach is used in France. Certain zones are declared Zones d’Aménagement Differé or zones of deferred development, which are identified by the government for future development. A time frame is set wherein the government has the right of first refusal for any land transaction; owners seeking to sell their land would issue a declaration of intent to sell. The government would have a set period (about two months) to either accept the owner’s requested price or, in the case of a dispute over value, agree to a negotiated settlement. Alternatively, the government could also seek a judge-determined price set at the market rate two years before the declaration of the right of preemption. This instrument was introduced to enable the government to avoid the kind of land speculation that immediately follows when future government-sanctioned infrastructure improvement and area development plans become known to developers and the community. Hence, it is a useful instrument in preserving the original residents’ rights and controlling gentrification, which usually follows urban regeneration projects.