Owning a piece of land is a common goal for everyone at some point in life. We look forward to securing a land either for personal or business purposes. Buying land in Kenya aligns with the basic principles of law of contract which helps us to understand what both the buyer and the seller expect from the transaction. This article will help you understand the basics, expectation and pitfalls when acquiring land in Kenya.
As per the Kenyan constitution, both the seller and buyer should abide by the provisions of the Land Control Act. Buyers are often encouraged to use reputable and professional lawyers for advice and to assist with the payment process without any pitfalls. In most cases, lawyers will advise against direct payment to vendors or their agents to avoid con issues. Buyers may opt to use cash or installment payment mode. Payment via the lawyers will ensure that precautions are taken to avoid any pitfalls.
The land buying procedure is detailed below:
- Land identification
The process begins with the buyer identifying a suitable land for purchase. It can be done directly by the buyer or through a real estate agency firm. If you opt for the real estate agency firm, visit the site before proceeding to ensure it meets the desired criteria.
- Search at land registry
The prospective buyer will then obtain a copy of the title deed from the seller to facilitate the search. It will take about two hours at a cost of Sh.1,000. The search will provide details of the registered owner and any caveats (buyer beware).
- County office search
This will help find out if there are any unpaid land rates which will be factored in the purchase price. A certificate of clearance is then issued. The fee varies with the county.
- Obtain two land maps
The maps are acquired from a local surveyor or land ministry at a cost of Sh.300. one map is drawn to scale while the other shows the neighboring plots.
- Ground verification
The prospective buyer will accompany the seller and surveyor to verify dimensions. Beacons are then erected to avoid future disputes.
- Sale agreement
The agreement pertaining the terms of sale prepared by the seller is signed by the buyer. It is advisable to seek services of a lawyer at this point. Details of the buyer, seller, mode of payment, buying price and documents to be availed are listed.
- Clearance from the Land Control Board Clearance
The forum comprises of county commissioners and elders. The aim of the forum is to enhance transparency in the process. For instance, ensuring that a family member is not selling land without the consent of a spouse or other related parties. It costs Sh.2000. alternatively, a meeting with the assistant county commissioner can be scheduled at Sh.16,000 to speed up the process.
N.B: Some of the sellers will require you to make a 10% deposit during the sale agreement stage but it is advisable to do so after clearance with the LCB. If you have to make the payment through cash or installments, ensure that the title deed and other legal documents are in your lawyer’s custody. This will protect you from harm such as the seller using the title deed to acquire a loan during the purchase process among others.
- Land transfer
Land transfer comes after all the payment and clearance has been done. The seller signs the transfer forms which will be taken together with passport photos, clearance form from county, consent from LCD, agreement, land search and old title deed to the ministry of lands for ownership changes.
- Stamp duty and transfer fees
The buyer will pay stamp duty and any transfer fees as per the value of the land.
- Post purchase activity
It is important to follow up after one week to ensure that the land reads his or her details with the ministry of Lands.