The process of transferring a land title deed in Kenya is elaborate and can be confusing if you are not familiar with it. So, in this post, I will break it down into its components. I will explain what each step entails, what you need to do, the documents you require, time duration, cost until you get the final title.
In fact, after reading this post, you should be able to transfer a title on your own. But even if you decide to outsource the work to an agent, you will do so from the point of knowledge — you know what they are doing and why.
So, without much ado, let’s get started on the steps you need to follow to get your name on a title deed.
Conduct a Land Search on the Title
Searching is your first step. There are two ways to conduct a land search in Kenya. You can do an online search or by physically visiting a Land Registry office. But, for purposes of land title transfer, you need to visit the local registry in the County where the property is located.
Why do You Need a Land Title Search?
The title search is essential in three significant ways. First, the search will enable you to compare the details on the title deed with those on the ground. Are the names on the title the same as those in the land registry record? How about the size and location of the plot? These details should match.
Secondly, a search will show you if the plot has unpaid land rates. Since these rates must be paid before you the title is transferred, you can negotiate with the seller and factor them in the purchase price.
And lastly but not least, a search helps you to find out if there is a charge, caveat or caution on the land. Well, these three words are legalese, but I will briefly explain what they mean in simple terms.
Let’s start with the word “charge.” And this is the most common way in which land is charged. Let’s say, a titleholder takes a bank loan, and uses the plot as security. The bank will place a charge on the land, which means that the bank has the monetary right to that piece of property, and the plot can be sold after the titleholder pays the loan.
Next is a caveat. “Caveat” is a Latin word that means “let him or her beware”. It is a warning or a legal restriction that prevents any dealings on the property such as selling, buying or registering a mortgage. A caveat tells you that there is someone already who claims an estate or priority interest on the property. Nothing can be done on the land until the person who placed the caveat accents or through an order of a court of law.
A caution is a notice placed in the register, and it specifies an action that cannot be taken on the land unless the person who gave the notice is informed.
So, the rule of thumb is, if you find a charge, caveat or caution on the land, ask the seller to have them removed before you continue with any transaction. Often they are removed through a court process.
In summary, a search is necessary to affirm that the land you want to buy has no encumbrances.
How to Conduct the Land Search
Get a search application form at the land registry and enter the details about the land as recorded on the title deed. Also, attach one copy each of the title deed, your identification card (ID) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PIN number.
The land registration officer will fill, on the search form, the details on the status of the land after completing the search.
The search fee costs Kshs. 500 and the search takes about three days.
If the details match and the land is free for sale, then you can continue to the next step which is to enter into a formal agreement with the seller.
Draw a Land Sale Agreement
Sometimes called a Sales and Purchase Agreement, the land sale agreement is a legal contract between a buyer and a seller. The agreement obligates the buyer to buy the land and the seller to sell at their mutually agreed terms.
The seller’s lawyer will often draw this sale agreement, but you should also appoint a lawyer to represent your interest. Details on the contract include your name and that of the seller, the agreed price of the land, the mode of payment, and all the documents that the seller will supply to enable you register and transfer the title to your name.
Both you and the seller will have to sign the agreement, and the lawyer will stamp it to make it legally binding.
Lawyers charge advocate fees which depend on the value of the land, but the minimum charge is Kshs. 35,000 for land whose value is between Kshs. 1 to Kshs. 5,000,000.
After getting the land sale agreement, the next step is to seek consent to transfer land. According to the Land Act, you should ask for approval within 60 days of drawing the agreement.
Seek a Consent to Transfer the Land
The County Land Control Board (LCB) gives the consent to transfer land. The LCB comprises the county commissioner, lands officer and area elders. They meet once in a month to deliberate on requests for consent to transfer land.
So, this step takes about 30 days. But you can ask for a special LCB meeting to hasten your case which will take seven days or less. You will pay Kshs. 1,000 if your consent is decided in a regular monthly meeting. On the other hand, a special meeting will set you back by up to Kshs. 20,000.
Both the seller and buyer must attend the LCB meeting to assure the LCB that the sale/purchase is above board, mutually agreed, and accented to by the seller’s family.
So, the seller must be accompanied by a family member when attending the LCB meeting. If married, the seller should be accompanied by the spouse. If widowed, one or more children will be required to attend. And where the seller is unmarried, he/she has to swear a “non-married affidavit” before the meeting commences.
Land control boards insist on the presence of a seller’s family member to confirm that the family has an alternative place to settle and will not be landless after selling this land. The local elders in the committee are often familiar with the area and help to corroborate or contradict the seller’s information.
As you attend the meeting, bear in mind that the LCB can deny the consent to transfer the land. And according to the Land Control Act Chapter 302 (Revised 2017), the LCB’s decision is final, conclusive and cannot be questioned in any court. Of course, this is subject to your right of appeal.
I have seen on some occasions where the LCB refused consent because it feels that the seller’s dependents will suffer after selling the land. Other reasons for refusal are if the buyer is not a Kenya Citizen, or does not prove the capacity to develop or use the land profitably.
In some cases, the LCB might ask for documents from you or the seller. You need to have an open mind and provide any information and materials to help the LCB reach a decision faster.
Hoping that all goes well and you get the nod from the LCB, the next step is to apply for the valuation of your land.
Get a Valuation Report
Land valuation for purposes of transfer must be done by a Government Valuer who will visit your land, inspect it, and estimate its value in Kenya shillings. You can get a valuer at the Valuation and Land Administration Division of the County Lands office.
To enable the valuation, you need a valuation form, duly filled by the seller, and two land maps. The first is a general map of your plot and the adjacent parcels. The second map is called mutation. It is a map drawn to scale showing the exact dimensions of your land. The mutation can help you to erect beacons on your plot’s boundaries if they don’t exist.
You will get the maps from the survey department of the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development. They are available at the regional offices of the ministry, that is, Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Embu, and Nyeri.
For land in Mtwapa, and its environs, you can purchase the maps at the Lands Ministry’s Mombasa regional office located at Bima Towers 11th Floor. Each map costs Kshs.500.
Help the valuer to reach your plot easily for the inspection by attaching a drawn sketch showing the directions to your land.
This step can take a long time depending on the Government Valuer’s availability. But, you can fast-track the process if you arrange to pick the valuer from their office and drive them to your property.
Once you get your valuation report, it’s now time to go for an assessment of stamp duty at the land registry.
Pay Stamp Duty
To know how much stamp duty you must pay, take your valuation report to the Land Registry office where an officer will calculate the stamp duty payable.
Stamp duty is a tax levied on the transfer of land. It is assessed at two percent of the value of the land in rural areas and four percent in municipalities. The tax is paid to the Ministry of Land. However, the ministry does not collect the tax directly. It seconded the function to KRA. And, KRA on its part contracts banks to collect on its behalf.
So, you can pay stamp duty at the KRA office or any authorized commercial bank. After payment, you need to get a certificate from KRA confirming your payment.
If you have paid through a bank, take the payment slip to a Huduma Centre or the KRA office to get the KRA certificate of payment. You can also get the certificate online. The stamp duty certificate costs about Kshs.400.
The stamp duty act, requires the purchaser to pay the stamp duty within 30 days of the valuation, without which another valuation will be required.
Pay any Outstanding Land Rates
County governments levy land rates on all parcels of land within their areas of jurisdiction. The rates are based on the market value of the land and differ among counties.
Here you will take your valuation report and consent to transfer documents to the County office where the property is located for assessment of land rates. The county officer will instruct you on which bank to pay the rates.
Pay at the authorized commercial bank and take back the pay-in-slip to the county office as evidence of payment.
Obtain a Clearance Certificate
The County issues a clearance certificate to confirm that it has agreed to the property exchanging hands. In Kilifi County, you will be required to pay Kshs. 5,000 for this certificate. The charge may be different in other counties.
With a clearance certificate, you are now ready for the last step.
Lodge the Documents for Registration of the Title Transfer
By this time you have a sizeable bundle of paperwork. The bunch is legally known as the transfer documents. They are the legal instruments that the Land Ministry will use to change the land ownership in your favor.
Confirm that you have the following documents:
- A copy of the title deed
- The land search documents
- clearance to transfer certificate from the LCB
- The transfer forms signed by the seller
- The sale agreement document
- The valuation report
- The stamp duty declaration and pay-in-slip
- Land rent clearance certificate
- Land rates clearance certificate
- Certificate of clearance from the county
- A copy of your national ID
- A copy of your KRA Pin
- Three passport photos of the seller
- Three passport photos of yourself (the buyer)
Change of land ownership takes around two weeks, and the registration fee payable to the Land Ministry is Kshs. 1,500.
After successful registration, you will now get the title in your name.
This is the final step you could take to re-confirm that the property is indeed formally registered in your details. Conduct a land search one or two weeks after getting your title.
Have you ever tried to transfer a land title? How did you find the process of transferring a land title deed in Kenya? Did you do it yourself or you outsourced it? Share your experience in the comments section below.
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