Owning land in Kenya is considered one of the most valued assets an individual can have.
Types of Land Ownership
There are two types of land ownership in Kenya; freehold and leasehold.
This is absolute ownership of land and besides the normal local government land rates, no other taxes are levied.
In most cases, the land is owned by the government or by individuals /companies who lease the land for say 99 years to the purchaser. Under such conditions, the leaseholder will transfer the unexpired term of the lease to the purchaser who will then take overpayment of the land rate and municipal rates which has to be paid before the transfers. The land rate is determined by the head lessor and depends on the locality and the property size.
The purchaser pays a percentage of the purchase price, which is a government tax known as stamp duty. He also pays legal fees to the lawyer acting for him as per lawyer’s scale.
A deposit of the purchase price is payable on signing of a sale agreement and the balance on completion of registration, depending on what the vendor and purchaser have agreed.
Before making any form of payments, the following procedures should be followed.
1. Search and inspection of the title deed
Once you have identified the piece of land that you would like to buy, you should then visit the ministry of land headquarters at the county level, to confirm the owner of the land. You will be required to carry the title deed of the land to enable the research of the land. Also, by going to the ministry of land, you will be informed of any issues connected to the land. For example, maybe someone had used the land to get a loan or the land has been restricted by the court to be sold. In Kenya, a land search costs Ksh 520 and takes an average period of 6months.
2. Offers and Price negotiation
When satisfied with the results of the search and inspection of the title deed, then the seller’s advocate can prepare an offer letter. The letter of offer should contain the details of both the buyer and seller, a description of the land, the proposed land price and the mode of payment. To get the land at a lower price, negotiations between the two parties must take place. A wise buyer will offer a lower price than the fixed one after the search and inspection of the land.
3. Sale agreement and deposit
Upon agreeing on the price, make sure that the sale agreement has the terms and conditions that both parties agreed on. The sale agreement is drafted by the seller’s lawyer and presented to the buyer’s advocate for approval. The approval of the sales agreement is followed by payment of the agreed deposit to the seller’s advocate account.
4. Land map
You can get the land map from a local surveyor and buy a map of the property. You will get two maps, one drawn to scale and the other one showing the neighbouring lands. each map will cost you Ksh 300 or less. However, you can visit the lands ministry which will take longer to get the maps.
5. Land rates
Land rates are the tax imposed on every parcel of land to the county government. This is a keynote to have during the land-buying process. After payment, a rates clearance certificate is issued as proof that all rates have been paid. Make sure that the seller has covered all the land rates and interests before making any transactions. Note that payment of rates is a legal responsibility of every landowner hence you ought to be committed.
6. Land control board
This board consists of the assistant county commissioner and the local village elders. Their main duty to protect the seller from self-destruction such as selling the land that was instructed never to be sold. Also, one cannot sell land without the wife giving consent. This means that the board will give the final consent for the land you are interested in to be sold. Note that this board meets once per month and will charge you Ksh 1000.
However, there is an optional board, a special land control board( SCLB), that consists of the assistant county commissioner and the two parties only instead of waiting for the LCB. most people prefer this board since it can take up to 2 hours and you don’t have to wait for a month for the meeting to happen. The SCLB costs 5000.
7. Land transfer
After all payments and the consent of the land control board, the seller is required to sign a land transfer form. The form should contain:
- Correctly filled booking form
- Official land search
- Consent to transfer land
- Land rates clearance form
- Land rent certificate
- Transfer Instrument
- Identity card
- KRA pin
- Sale agreement
- Old title deed
The old title deed should be taken to the ministry of land to change land ownership. The process takes two weeks and costs 5000.
8. Payment of stamp duty
The value of the land will determine the amount of money you will pay for stamp duty. 4% of the land value will go to the municipalities while 2% will go for reserve.
The buyer should confirm with the ministry of land, after one week, that the land has his or her details. If any issues, you can make corrections then go confirmed after a week
Once the registration process is complete, the legal ownership of the land shall have legally changed hands.
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.