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What you should know about buying a piece of land

COURTESY of the Kenyan Constitution 2010, every citizen has a right to own a piece of land. Be that as it may, there is a set procedure which one needs to follow towards that end. It is not only for legal purposes but it also ensures that the prospective buyer does not end up being taken advantage of buy “the people who are not supposed to make it to heaven due to their con traits”.

A piece of land marked for sale./Courtesy

Step 1: Identifying the Land of Your Choice.

You are required to make a choice on the land you want to buy guided by your interests. In this country there are some areas where a specific region is set aside for a specific land use. That is, the plots could be residential or commercial, sometimes it is a combination of both. Doing due diligence about the land use of the particular piece of region will guide you to make an informed choice that doesn’t conflict with your interests. Subject to size, purpose and location of the land, upon identifying the property you can proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Conduct a Search at Land Registry

Once you have identified and expressed interest, request for a copy of the title deed of that piece of property and conduct search in the respective land registry. Land selling companies or agents that allow you to do a search on a property enables you to establish the true land owners. It will also help you to know if they have the necessary rights to transfer the property to you.

Title Deed

A title deed is a legal document consisting evidence of a right, especially to ownership of a property.

A title deed search is a process of retrieving documents showing events in the history of piece of property to determine details and regulations concerning it. The Ministry of Lands provides for a platform where prospective buyers can conduct a search on any piece of land property before making a commitment to buying it.

For various reasons many view the process as tedious, lengthy and time consuming. Conversely, it is a short and precise procedure that equips you with solid details of the current owner(s) of the property you are interested in buying. There are two methods of conducting a title deed search:

         i.            Manual Search: the search is conducted physically at the land registry. You will be required to have a copy of the title deed, identity card and the KRA pin of the seller. Armed with those proceed to the local land registry where the property is located. For example, if the land is in Kyuso sub county, proceed to Kyuso land registry. At the registry you will request for Search application form which you fill in the details and attach the copies of documents mentioned above. The process is absolutely free of charge and it should take you a maximum of two working days to have your results ready.

       ii.            Online Search: This search is conducted over the internet. This has been made possible by digitization of land records. However, its only available for Nairobi County but it will be rolled out to the other counties.

Key steps to conducting online search:


·         Log into e-Citizen Platform and create an account

·         Navigate to the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning and select land search option

·         Input the title deed number of the property under search and complete online search form

·         Select your preferred mode of payment ranging from M-Pesa, debit or credit card

·         Once the payment is successful, proceed to print the search results

An online land Search costs KSh 500

Step 3: Confirm any Unpaid Land Rates

Upon performing a search, ensure there are no unpaid land rates attached to the land you intend to buy. This can be done by conducting a search at county office where the land is located. There is a fee attached to search which will vary from county to another. It is of great importance to discuss with the seller who is to cover the costs in case of unpaid rates.

Step 4: Get the Land Maps

You are required to get two maps of the land you intend to buy from the land registry or a local land survey. One of the maps is drawn to scale showing the exact measurements of bearings, distances and acreage of the parcel while the other map will show an overview of the land together with the adjacent plots. Each map will cost you from Ksh300 to Ksh500.

Step 5: Land Verification

After getting the maps, together with a land surveyor and the seller, you then proceed to actual location of the map on the ground in order to authenticate everything on the maps. Many buyers tend to skip this step for various reasons including but not limited to trust in the seller. It is very important to verify everything and go ahead to erect beacons for purposes of boundary demarcation to prevent any future misunderstandings or disputes.

Step 6: Sale Agreement

After all the above steps have checked out, the buyer and the seller can now get down to write a sale agreement which is done by a lawyer. A Sale Agreement entails all the factors that will guide you in this process which includes; price, method(s) of payment and mode of payment. The sale agreement is very vital because it will protect you legally in case any of the parties fail to honor their part of agreement. The price of land varies for place to place with the value and location.

Step 7: Land Board Clearance

Clearance is obtained from Land Control Board which is comprised of County Commissioners and local elders of the area where the land is geographically located. The clearance serves to ensure that the transfer and transaction was transparent and that there was no illegality involved. The Land Control Board meeting is held once per month across various counties at various dates and it costs One thousand shillings only. In case of urgency, other special board meetings can be held often at a higher fee, around KSh 5000.

Step 8: Land Valuation

After getting a green light from Land Control Board, you can fill a valuation form for the purposes of property valuation. This is often done at the Land Registry where the land is located. The land’s office will compute a Stamp Duty to be paid which is often based on the value and location of the land. In the Sales agreement, it should be clearly outlined who is to pay this particular fee between the seller and the buyer to avoid confusion.

Step 9: Transfer of the Land

The buyer and the seller, upon paying the stamp duty through the land registry, will both sign the transfer forms, then the buyer proceeds to the Land Registry where the land is located. The buyer must accompany with himself the following documents;

·         Land Control Board Consent Form

·         KRA PIN

·         2 passport size photographs

·         The Old Title Deed

·         The Sale Agreement

The change of ownership normally takes roughly three weeks and depending on the county of location it can cost between Ksh 1,000 to Ksh 2,000 shillings.

Step 10: Last but Not the Least

The new owner will receive the new title deed indicating ownership has been transferred to them and the old title deed has been destroyed. The seller and the new owner will then proceed to the Land Registry to pay the Stamp Duty based on the land value and its location.

If the land is in the municipality, you pay 4% of the sale value. If it is in the locality, you pay 2% of the sale value. When you are through with payment, do another search at the registry to confirm that the land has been transferred to you.

STORY By ©Mutai C.N Twitter@nava_surveys limited

Graduate Land Surveyor & GIS Expert

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