This is a detailed beginner’s guide of the legal process of buying a land in Kenya
All land in Kenya belongs to the people of Kenya collectively as a nation, as communities and as individuals and therefore classified as public land, community land or private land.
Before you purchase a land it is better to understand what form of ownership exists so you do not get duped. This is actually the first step of other steps of buying a land in Kenya.
FORMS OF LAND OWNERSHIP IN KENYA
- Freehold Land Ownership:- This is the most common form of land ownership where an individual or group of people have the absolute ownership of land for life. The land can therefore be passed on to family descendants of the owner. It is also known as absolute proprietorship. The owner gets a freehold title deed and have no restrictions on land use unless otherwise stated.
- Community Land Ownership:- This is where land is owned as communal land, family of Clan Land.
- Public Land Ownership:- This is land held by the National Government of Kenya in trust of the people of Kenya
- Leasehold Land Ownership:-This where an individual owns a land for stipulated time. The owner pays for the time they own the land as per the agreement. Non-citizens/foreigners can own land in Kenya through leasing which lasts for a maximum of 99 years after which the land goes back to the grantor. What happens when the leasehold expires; one can apply to renew/extension of the lease.
STEPS OF BUYING A LAND IN KENYA
- Identify the land you want to buy. Once you identify a land on sale consider some factors such as where it’s accessible from the main road and utilities such as power and water lines. Also identify the form of ownership.
- Ask to see the title deed or copy of title deed. Then do a search at the lands registry at your county to confirm who the real owners are or if the title has any Caveat on it. You can also do a search online through https://ardhisasa.lands.go.ke/home website. You need to create an account first or if you already have an account just login and do the search. The site has a list of all registered title deeds in Kenya.
- Do a search with the local authorities to check of any unpaid land rates. If any, agree with the seller on who will settle the debt. Note that land cannot be transferred if there are unpaid land rates.
- Buy maps to verify the land measurements. Go to the ministry of lands and buy 2 maps, one showing the exact measurements of the piece you are buying (called mutation) and the other showing the neighboring lands. With your 2 maps and a surveyor visit the land you are buying and verify the details on the map.
- Negotiate the price with the seller. After bargaining on a favorable price and reaching an agreement, sign a sale agreement. The agreement can also be done before a lawyer.
- Pay deposit as per your agreement. As per the agreement payment terms, pay the agreed deposit. Also remember to clearly sign on the sales agreement once you pay the deposit. It is also advisable to have a witness if the agreement is not done before a lawyer.
- Book a meeting with the lands control board (LCB). They meet once a month. It will cost you Kes. 1,000. But there is a special LCB meeting which you can book at Kes 5000. LCB will issue consent for the land to be sold.
- Pay the remaining balance after getting consent from LCB.
- Land Transfer. With the consent from LCB, a recent search (not more than 6 months), clearance form from County land rates, your 2 maps, the agreement, KRA PIN, 2 Passports and copy of the title deed, go to the ministry of lands to change ownership. How much does it cost to transfer land in Kenya? Cost Kshs 5000. At this stage, you no longer need the seller. Now go and pay stamp duty ie according to the value of the land. 4% of sale value in municipalities and 2% in reserves.
- Do a final Land Search. Now the land belongs to you. But before celebrating, go to the ministry and do a search to confirm if it really reads your name.