Buying land in Kenya: The process
The land buying process in Kenya is clear. Which begs the question of why many Kenyans are still entangled in land buying conflicts? Though the process is quite lengthy and costly, it cannot compare to the risks that come with shortcuts. Shortcuts lead your investments down the drain because you did not secure rightful ownership of that specific plot.
There are many reasons for buying land: These reasons include speculative purposes or buying land to sell later at a higher price. Second, is building a family home, construction of a retirement home, for agriculture, and for commercial development. Which then is the right procedure for buying land in Kenya?
The Land Buying Process in Kenya
- Land Identification
Start by locating an ideal piece of land that suits your needs. For agricultural purposes, you may need to test its fertility. The plot should have access to good infrastructure, water, and electricity.
- Perform a Search at the Land Registry
Upon identifying the piece of land that appeals to you, visit the county headquarters or the former ministry of land office armed with ksh.520, the current title deed, and a minimum of two hours. Through the search, you will learn who the real owner is.
Apart from being certain of ownership, you will get to know the plot size, and location. Additionally, the search will reveal reasons why the court has barred the owner from selling the land, if there’s any.
Does the land title have a caveat against it or is it acting as collateral for a loan? Get the facts by searching the land registry. The search results are only valid for six months.
- Check for Unpaid Rates
Factor in any unpaid land rates before purchase. Visit the Local County or municipal to check whether the seller has defaulted on land rates. In case of unpaid rates, decide prior who is to clear the balance otherwise you cannot buy land with outstanding debts.
As a Nairobi resident, you will have to pay ksh.7500 to the Nairobi County offices for a clearance certificate, which is an essential document in land acquisition.
- Get two land maps
The next step in the land buying process in Kenya, is getting two land maps from either your local surveyor or from the Ministry of Land. Working with a local surveyor, however, is more convenient.
The surveyor will supply you with two different maps, namely the mutation or tracing map, drawn to scale. The second one does not have a scale and summarizes adjacent plots. Each map costs ksh.300.
- Land verification
Visit the piece of land you are intending to buy accompanied by the surveyor, the seller, and if possible, the neighboring landowners. Using the mutation map and a tape measure, the surveyor should confirm the dimensions of the plot.
If the beacons are not visible, erect new ones. Make sure the neighboring landowners are in agreement with the beacon placement lest land border conflicts brew. You are to pay ksh.1000 for each beacon the surveyor erects.
- Signing an Agreement
Do you need a lawyer when purchasing land? Although it is not a must, the law highly encourages you to consult one. The seller’s lawyer is responsible for designing the land sale agreement.
The document comprises the following details:
- Names of the seller and the buyer
- Terms of sale
- Means of payment
- Other documents needed to facilitate transfer of land ownership to the buyer.
For transparency’s sake, ensure the seller’s spouse is present to arrest future disputes. Also, do not make any payments to the seller at this stage. Not until the lands control board clears you.
Both you and the seller should cost share the lawyer’s payment which according to the Law Society of Kenya ranges between Ksh 3000 for a plot worth 1,000,000 or below and Ksh 8,000 for a plot whose value is above Ksh 1,000,000.
- Clearance by the Lands Control Board
The assistant county commissioner, together with the village elders of that specific locality, makes up the Lands Control Board. The village elders were brought on board to foster transparency in land transactions, especially between spouses, since both of them must consent to selling land.
You can choose to wait for the board sitting, which is once monthly and pay ksh.1, 000 for the service.
Alternatively, you can set up a special land control board that involves the seller, assistant county commissioner, and yourself. For the special board, you are to part with ksh.5, 000.
- Transfer of Ownership
Once cleared by the Land clearance board and you have made all the payments, proceed to signing the transfer forms for presentation to the ministry of land together with the old title deed, county/municipal clearance form, KRA pin, sales agreement, LCB consent and three clear passport photos.
In addition, pay up ksh.5, 000 to facilitate processing of the new title deed for two weeks.
- Stamp the Transfer
Use the valuation forms filled by the seller to request the government valuer to help in valuing the land. Depending on the value of the land, you will have to pay 4% and 2% of the total land value for urban and rural areas, respectively. Make the payments to the commissioner of domestic taxes.
After stamping the transfer successfully, there remains a single yet very important step which is to perform another search at the ministry of land. Do the search a week after transferring ownership to confirm that the land in now yours. The land should read in your name, identity number, KRA pin, etc.
What are the steps to follow when buying land in Kenya? Buying land isn’t as complicated as most people would want to think. Moreover, the lengthy process is nothing compared to the benefits of rightfully owning viable land. You are therefore, to apply due diligence in every step and consult experts for example lawyers where you feel your knowledge is limited.