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Legal Steps For Buying Land In Kenya

19th Oct 2021

In Kenya, there are three significant steps involved in purchasing land.  In the news, you hear or read about stories where some Kenyans have lost a lot to conmen and con-women in the process of acquiring land. The sad side of the story is that these Kenyans lose their hard earned money just because of ignorance regarding land transacting matter.


As you put plans to oblige your money on purchasing land, ensure that you verify that land, to avoid being conned. Land buying process consists of five parties, you, the buyer, the seller, a lawyer, a witness, and the land ministry.  How can one avoid being conned in Kenya? Here are some easy and sure ways to verify your land in Kenya:


  1.  Confirm that the Land Exists

This is known as ground verification.  It is the very first step you should take.  No one wants to buy land then, later on, realizes that s/he bought something that never existed, right? It is for that reason that you are required to contact the seller, who will then lead you in visiting the place to approve that actually, the land in question exists.  This will help you avoid getting hooked in land arguments in the coming years. Also, take time to befriend and to talk to the neighborhood locals and local agents if possible, see if you can be able to do your own investigation and confirmations.


  2.  Conduct a Search at the Land’s Ministry

This is to make sure that the seller is the actual owner of the land.  At this juncture,  you will request for a copy of the land’s title deed which will help you know if the land is owned by a different person, or it is unrestricted for sale, or if the title has any caution on it. The search should be run at the land’s ministry. The land control board meet once in a month. You can book a meeting with them at some fee.  Although, where there is urgency, they will offer a special meeting at a higher expense.

After that, they will, in turn, give you the search results, after hours or days.  Note that the search results should be sealed officially by the Registrar of Lands.  From the results of the research, make sure that the name from the land’s ministry match with that of the seller. When it comes to this, be very careful, as some sellers, fake ID cards with the same names as those reflected in the title deed.  So what do you do? You have to confirm the names with the Registrar of Persons.


  3.  Do Search at Local County Offices

As the land buyer, you should confirm with the county government, to ensure that the land in question does not have any unpaid rates, and if there are any prevailing land rates, you should agree with the seller on who will clear the debt and when.  Although, this may affect the purchase price.


  4. Get Survey Maps

Survey maps will help you know where the boundaries of the land should be. The Ministry of Lands provides survey maps upon request. You can also buy the maps from a surveyor.

After getting the maps, visit the land with the surveyor and the seller to mark boundaries on the piece of land to avoid disputes during the sale process.

A visit to the land is also to ensure that you are buying land that exists.

  5. Sign the Sale Agreement

The sale agreement is a legally binding document drawn up by the seller’s lawyer. This agreement protects both the seller and the buyer to ensure that you each benefit from the sale.

You will fill three copies of the agreement: one for you, the seller and the lawyer. It will have:

    Buyer and seller details
    Land description
    Cost of the land and payment timelines
    Who pays for what during the process
    And what happens if there is a breach of contract

Not forgetting the hidden charges: stamp duty of 4% of the value of the land in urban areas and 2% in rural areas. Legal fees are dependent on the value of the land. If the land costs below Kshs 5M, the lawyer will charge a minimum of Kshs 35,000.

All these costs are in the sale agreement.


  6.  A Genuine Title Deed for You

When you finally finish paying the agreed fee, you ought to tell the trader to make an original title deed for you. This comes after the seller signs the land transfer forms, and it is prepared at the land’s ministry. Land’s department has their agencies in almost every town.   So you will get their services from whichever city in Kenya, that you are in. When you finish the last bit of payment, you are issued your title deed.


  7.  Secure Transfer Documents

When you finish paying the agreed amount, the seller then signs the land transfer forms. After which the buyer then goes to the ministry of land, together with the consent from the land control board, three passports sized photos, KRA PIN certificate and other required documents.


   8. Pay Stamp Duty Based on Value of Land

Here, you are intended to apply for land valuation.  Using the form signed by the seller of the land. The government valuer will do this. The documents filed by the owner are used to compute the stamp duty payable.  The stamp duty should be four percent of the land value in rural areas and two percent for urban areas.


  9.  Post-Purchase Activity

One week after buying the land, you should do a post-purchase activity. This is where you visit the land’s ministry to confirm that the land now reads that you are the owner.  This is a crucial step, do not assume it, as it can impact a lot.


In summary, In Kenya, the land purchase may appear to be so easy for a newbie, but trust me that is not always the case.   For you-you to be declared an authentic owner of the land, you have to follow the correct channel, carefully.  For you to avoid losing your hard earned money to fraudsters, always do due diligence. Yes, make sure you verify the title deed with the registrar of land and involve a lawyer in all the transactions.  It is worth noting that in the Kenyan law, the individual whose name is on the title deed, is recognized as the real owner of the land.




David Backhum

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