Legal Considerations When Investing in Land in Kenya - 8 Things That Will Save You Millions

Legal Considerations When Investing in Land in Kenya - 8 Things That Will Save You Millions

Purchasing land is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a worthwhile investment. It’s the most valuable fixed asset that you could possibly own today, and keeps increasing in value. Hence, whatever the reason for owning the land, there are some key legal considerations to have in mind. 

What are the legal considerations when buying land in Kenya? Here are 8 procedures that could cost or save you millions. 

1. Land Search 

Once you identify the land that matches your needs in terms of location, size, soil type among other key factors in land ownership, and have acquired the title deed, conduct a land search with the lands registry. 

Thanks to digitisation of documents in the lands registry, it is now very easy to search land online. At a small fee, the search results will help you confirm the current ownership, location, size and any caveats attached to the land. 

2. Verifying the Status of any Pending Litigations

In some cases, the property may be subject to litigation. In such situations, the court is likely to put interim measures in place to preserve the property pending the final determination of the suit. This may mean delays in developing or occupying the property for you.

Key things to consider include: Is the piece of land currently in any dispute? How far along is the case? Have in mind that such cases might mean years wasted in litigation trying to recover the purchase price from the seller or even repossession of the property.

3. Land Rates Check

Before making any purchase, it is good to ensure that the land you seek to buy does not have any unpaid land rates. Land rate is one of the tax implications that applies to properties imposed by the county government. It is a legal obligation of landowners hence an important aspect to note before completing the transaction. 

In case of outstanding payments, you need to agree on who will take on the costs as it has to be cleared before the transfer. The land rates are allocated per county therefore it is important to know the property’s placement and location. Conduct a search in the county office where your ideal land is located to find out if there are any pending land rates. The cost of these checks varies from county to county.

4. Land Maps

It is necessary to have two maps of the specific land, one from the land’s office and the other from the surveyor. One map is an overview of the land and adjacent plots while the other is drawn to scale. The maps are purchased at a reasonable price and are available at the Survey of Kenya offices that have their branches across the country. 

The document is key to get an idea of the scale of the area you look to invest in and should contain a general representation of the neighbouring properties. Once land has been verified on the map, erect beacons on the property to prevent future disputes.

There is only one map from the Survey of Kenya, also called a Blue Print. The other is a sketch map drawn by the Surveyor to show the placement of beacons within the piece of land. Its good we distinguish between the two other than saying 2 maps.

5. Ground Verification

A ground verification or a site visit is important for one to actually see the piece of land. It is advisable to have a measuring tape in order to confirm whether the dimensions indicated on the map and what is presented match. When out in the field make sure that all those bordering the land are in agreement with the boundaries. Use a surveyor to make the process easier.

6. Transfer Documents

Once all the procedures have been met and clearances done from the respective land offices, you can now proceed to make payments for the land. Ensure that the transfer forms are signed and that you are in possession of the legally acquired transfer documents upon clearing the outstanding fees. 

The entire process for change of land ownership might take some time and attract a fee. The transfer documents will only be executed after consent to transfer has been issued by the commissioner of lands. Be sure to always follow up on the progress. 

7. Post-Purchase Land Ownership Verification

In a period of two weeks or a month, conduct an online search to verify that the land is officially and legally under your name. It is important to also cross check on whether the content on the physical document matches with the online content. Have it rectified in good time incase of any discrepancies.

8.  Construction Approvals 

The process doesn’t end at land acquisition. When planning to build property on the land purchased, it is vital to have the relevant approval and license from government, statutory and regulatory authorities. You also need to check with the relevant bodies involved in providing infrastructure facilities, water, sewage, electricity, environmental clearance and fire safety approvals before you kick off the construction.

 

The legal considerations of purchasing land and constructing may seem long and tiresome. But with the investment put in, checking off everything in this list is worth the hassle. These 8 procedures could be the reason you save or lose millions in a land acquisition deal.

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