The process of buying land in Kenya is not as complicated as many people may think.
Once you have identified the parcel of land and are ready to purchase, be sure to follow the below guidelines outlining the legal procedure.
Step 1: Search and inspection of the title deed
Request to see the title deed and get a copy of the title deed from the seller. Then visit the lands registry so as to conduct a search of the parcel in question. This will normally take three days to get the results of the real owner of the land and will reveal if there is any caution put against the land. The search will cost you Ksh 520. Note, a valid search should not be more than six months old.
Step 2: Confirm land rates
Next, do a search with the local authorities to check if there are unpaid land rates. If any, you will have to agree with the seller on who will settle the debt since land cannot be transferred if there are unpaid land rates. There are some charges that you will incur to obtain the clearance certificate, however the amount depends on the municipal or county council. It only takes a few hours to obtain the certificate.
Step 3: Purchase maps
Visit the ministry of lands and get two maps, one showing the exact measurements of the piece you are buying (called a tracing or mutation) and the other showing the neighboring lands. Each of these cost Ksh 350.
Step 4: Ground verification before buying land in Kenya
With these maps and a surveyor, visit the land you are buying. The land surveyor will re-establish the beacons, confirm the size of the land, and peek through the land’s survey history. He or she will help you understand some of the signs on the survey map and will establish e.g whether there is any riparian land attached to the land and advice accordingly.
Step 5: Sale agreement and deposit
Once you are satisfied with the search results, sit down with the seller and bargain the price. Write down a sale agreement. It is recommended that the sale agreement is drafted by a lawyer. The lawyers will charge a tariff depending on the value of the land. Upon execution of the sales agreement, the agreed deposit is paid by the purchaser through their advocate to the seller’s advocate’s account. Ensure the spouse is present when the agreement is being signed.
Take precautions before paying any installment by ensuring that the land title and any other legal document is in the lawyer’s custody. This is because the seller still owns the land and may transact in other deals with the title deed which would end up sabotaging you.
Step 6: Land Control Board Meeting
Book a meeting with the lands control board(LCB). The Land Control Board (LCB) is a forum that comprises of village elders and county commissioners that gives the final consent and protects the seller and his/ her dependents from harm, such as selling their only land without their dependents knowledge. This forum only convenes once a month. It will cost you Kshs 1,000. LCB will issue consent for the land to be sold.
Step 7: Land Transfer
The seller should sign the land transfer forms. Collect the forms, consent from LCB, Land search(not more than six months old), the clearance from county or municipal council , agreement, old title deed, passport photos and KRA pin and take them to the ministry of lands to change ownership. This will cost Ksh 5000 and takes about two weeks to process the new title.
Upon receipt of the complete documents from the seller, the buyer is obligated, in exchange of the documents, to pay to the seller the entire balance against the land through his advocates to finalize the registration of the documents after paying the requisite stamp duty.
Step 8: Pay Stamp Duty
The stamp duty will be dependent on the value of the land which is 4% for municipalities and 2% for reserve.
Once the sale is finished and you have obtained your title, do another search with the ministry of lands to ensure that the property now reflects your details as the owner.
And that’s the legal process of buying land in Kenya. Please leave us a comment below if you think we’ve missed anything.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information contained in this article is intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional legal advice. Although our aim is to provide you with as accurate information as possible, you should not act or rely upon the information in this article without seeking the advice of a lawyer who specializes in conveyancing and land transfer matters.
A construction project management professional based in Nairobi, Kenya. Reach me on: firstname.lastname@example.org