How to buy land in Kenya

Land is a great investment because they don't make it anymore
Land is a great investment because they don’t make it anymore. PHOTO/ACE REAL ESTATE
The Kenyan constitution permits citizens to acquire land within any county providing they comply with the following legal procedures of buying and selling land in Kenya.

1.) Land identification – This is where soon-to-be landowners identify land that meets their criteria such as location, size and soil type.

2.) Search at the lands registry – After identifying a piece of land that meets the desired standards, a prospective buyer should obtain a copy of the land title deed from the seller to facilitate the search.

Normally, it takes about two hours to get search results after filing a search application form (and attaching a copy of the title). This process costs Sh520.

Search results show details of the land including the registered owner of the land, acreage as well as any caveats registered against the title deed. A valid search should be no more than six months old.

3.) Search at the County office – The search helps to unearth any unpaid land rates which should be factored in the purchase price. A certificate of clearance from City Hall will cost you Sh7,500, but the fee varies in other counties.

4.) Obtain (two) land maps – The maps can be acquired from either the Land ministry or a local surveyor at a cost of Sh300 each. One map is normally drawn to scale and the other is an overview of the land showing adjacent plots.

5.) Ground verification – After obtaining the maps, the buyer visits the land (together with the seller and the surveyor) to verify the dimensions. Once this is done, the soon-to-be owner must erect beacons to avoid future disputes.

6.) Sale agreement – The buyer is advised to appoint a lawyer to represent him in the signing of the sale agreement. The agreement, which is usually prepared by the seller’s lawyer, indicates the terms of sale including the names of the buyer and seller, the price of the land, mode of payment and documents to be supplied by the seller to facilitate registration of the transfer of land to the buyer.

At this point, the seller may ask you to pay a 10 per cent deposit, but it is advisable not to part with a penny until you get clearance from the Land Control Board (LCB) – which has the final say on land transactions.

7.) Land Control Board clearance – The LCB is a forum that comprises area elders and county commissioners and its duty is to ensure that land transactions are conducted in a transparent manner – e.g stopping a husband from selling family land without the wife’s consent. This costs Sh1,000. However, instead of waiting for the main LCB meeting, the parties can schedule a special meeting involving only the assistant county commissioner at a cost of Sh5,000.

8.) Transfer and procurement of completion documents – One the payments are made and the seller inks the land transfer forms, the buyer should proceed to the ministry – armed with the consent from LCB, land search, clearance from county, 3 passport photos, KRA pin certificate, sale agreement and old title deed – to change ownership of the land. It takes two weeks and Sh5,000 to process a new title deed.

9.) Stamping the transfer – The buyer is required to apply for the valuation of the land by the government valuer using the valuation form filled by the seller. The Lands office will use these documents to compute the stamp duty payable. The stamp duty, which should be paid to the Commissioner of Domestic Taxes, is 4 per cent of the land value for urban areas 2 per cent for rural areas.

IMPORTANT: Effective January 1, 2015, stamp duty will be collected concurrently with a 5% capital gains tax.

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