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16 Jan
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All the Land Processes in Kenya

Kenyan land system is defined by the Constitution of Kenya, the Land Registration Act and the Land Act. Below, we try to demystify the different land processes in Kenya and how each is applicable at different scenarios.

Land in Kenya is classified into:

  1. Public land - reserved for public use or environmental protection. It is administered and managed by the National Land Commission on behalf of the people of Kenya. This means the land is unalienated by the Kenya government, used or occupied by a state organ, with no individual or community ownership being established, minerals and mineral oil, government foresters and game reserves. Other categories or public land include water catchment arears, national parks, government animal sanctuaries, roads, rivers, lakes and other water bodies, the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and the sea bed.
  2. Community land - it is held by communities on the basis of ethnicity, grazing areas, culture or similar community interest.
  3. Private land - this is land held by natural or legal persons. The Ministry of Lands is tasked with the registration of any interest in private land. It is classified into the following land tenure system;
    1. Freehold land tenure system - it gives the holder absolute ownership of the land for life. A freehold title deed generally has no restrictions as to the use and occupation of the land. However, there are some conditional freeholds which may restrict the use of land for agricultural uses only.
    2. Leasehold land tenure system - t his is the interest in land for a specific period of time subject to payment of land rent to the National government and land rates to the county governments. Once a lease expires the land reverts back to the owner or the leaseholder can apply for a renewal or extension of the lease.

NB: Non-citizens can hold leasehold land only for 99 years.

Land Rates

Land rates are levies imposed on all parcels of land and payable to the county governments. Upon full payment of all rates, one is issued with the rates clearance certificate which is conclusive evidence that all rates due and interest accrued have been fully paid. You need proof of land ownership, national ID card or passport for foreigners to complete the payment process. County governments charge different amounts for the land rates.

Check out more information on how to pay land rates in Kenya.

Land Rent

Land rent is levy imposed on leasehold parcels of land where the annual rent has been reserved at the time the grant is being issued and its payable to the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning. Land rent clearance certificate is a document that serves as evidence of payment of land rent. It is issued upon application and payment of all the outstanding land rent levies. The Land rent clearance certificate is valid for one year.

rent clearance certificate
Rent Clearance Certificate

Land Search

A land search is usually conducted to confirm the real owners of the land, to check if the title has been charged or has a caveat. A search also informs the buyer whether there are any outstanding land rates so that they can be factored in when deciding the purchase price of the land.

Land Consents

Before transfer of land can be effected, the seller must obtain consent to transfer the land. For leasehold lands, one obtains consent from the commissioner of lands whereas freehold lands consent is issued by the Land Control Board.

Land Survey Plan

A land survey plan is a specialized map of a parcel of land. It determines and delineates boundary locations, building locations and physical features. The plans are issued by the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning through the Department of Survey.

Transfer of Land

A transfer is the passing of interest in land, lease or charge from one party to another. Transfer of land can be by way of sale or gift. Upon identification of the land, the purchaser contracts an advocate who assists in carrying out due diligence in the land and in the purchase process. Once all the legal obligations are met, the documents are lodged at the land registry where the purchaser's interest in land is registered against the title document.

Before a transfer can be registered, the buyer is required to pay for stamp duty. The buyer has to obtain a payment authorization slip from Kenya Revenue Authority Itax System then proceed to make payments. The current stamp duty rates are 4% of the valuation amount for lands within municipalities (leaseholds) and 2% for land outside municipalities (freeholds).

Environmental Impact Assessment Licence

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a critical examination of the effects of a project on the environment. It identifies both negative and positive impacts of a project or activity, how it affects the environment and measures to mitigate the negative effects while maximizing on the positive ones. The National Environmental Management Authority issues the license once satisfied that the project has met the set criteria.

nema forwrding letter
NEMA Forwarding Letter

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Comments (2)
  • author

    Your article helped me a lot, is there any more related content? Thanks!

    • author

      Thank you for your kind words! We’re delighted to hear that our article was helpful to you. Yes, we have more related content planned, so please stay tuned for future updates. Happy reading!

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