This guide will take you through the legal process of buying land in Kenya.
I know many people dream of owning their land — and it’s easy to see why: Unlike renting, you can build your home, garage, or business on the ground. You can construct a fence around that land for security purposes. Plus, with ownership comes certain tax benefits and resale opportunities.
However, buying land in Kenya is not as simple as purchasing other goods and services. The process is fraught with red tape and potential landowning pitfalls. So, it’s essential to do your research and clearly understand what’s involved before you take the plunge.
So let’s look at the legal steps one needs to take to buy land in Kenya.
Process of Buying Land in Kenya
The following steps are an overview of buying a piece of land.
1. Identify the land you want to buy
The first step in the legal process of buying land in Kenya is to identify a piece of property that you want to purchase.
In most cases, you’ll start this process by searching online or consulting a real estate agent who can help you narrow your search for available properties. You might also buy from a friend, relative, or neighbor looking to sell.
Once you’ve found a piece of land you’re interested in; the next step is to check that it’s for sale and that there are no outstanding legal issues with the property.
2. Check the ownership status of the land
The second step is to confirm that the person or company that owns the land is willing to sell it.
You do this by doing a land search at the lands registry in your county.
Nowadays, it is easier to conduct a land search online by visiting the https://ardhisasa.lands.go.ke/home website and creating an account. It is fast and easy to use.
The website has an up-to-date list of all the registered titles in Kenya (freehold and leasehold). You can search by county, plot number, or the owner’s name.
3. Negotiate the purchase price
Once you have confirmed that the land is for sale and that you are the legal purchaser, the next step is to negotiate the purchase price with the seller.
This can be tricky, as both parties will likely have different ideas about how much the land is worth. It’s essential to be realistic about the property’s value and avoid overpaying.
4. Sign the sale agreement
Once you have negotiated a price, the next step is to sign a sale agreement that specifies your purchase terms.
Be sure to include essential details about your purchase, including:
- The name and address of both buyer and seller.
- A land description (for example, one acre off Waiyaki Way).
- The purchase price and the date of transfer.
- Whether you will be taking ownership immediately (in which case, what should happen to any existing structures or improvements on the property)?
The seller might involve their lawyer in drafting the sale agreement, or you may want to hire your lawyer. Either way, make sure you both sign the contract and keep a copy for your files.
5. Get survey map(s)
You can either do this step after signing the agreement or before, but it’s essential to get a survey map of the property to ensure that the boundaries are accurate.
You can get the map from The Ministry of Land or the surveyor. If you are unsure how to go about this, the best thing is to consult an estate agent who will guide you on what to do.
6. Pay Land Rates
According to prevailing laws, landowners in different parts of Kenya are entitled to vary rates.
To find out how much you must pay, contact the relevant county authority and determine the applicable rates for that area.
7. Transfer documents & consent
After you have paid all the necessary fees, the next step is to transfer ownership of the land to your name. The seller will sign a land transfer form that authorizes the transfer.
The transfer will take two weeks to be registered at the land registry.
You will also need consent from any other parties interested in the land (for example, a mortgage company or co-owner).
The Government valuer will visit and give a valuation for the land.
You can ask them to come earlier than this if you want to know how much the land is worth before you buy it, but remember that their initial report is just an estimate.
This valuation is essential because you need it to pay Stamp Duty which the GOK valuer determines.
9. Land Transfer
The final step is to transfer the land from the seller to you. This is done by paying Stamp Duty, a government tax charged on all land transactions.
The amount of Stamp Duty you pay depends on the property’s value as determined by the Government valuer.
The buyer must then pay any purchase price balanceher associated costs,,,, such as legal fees.
Once you have completed all these steps, you will be the legal owner of the land! Congratulations!
Documents used in the process
The following documents are used in the process of buying land.
- Original Title Deed
- Seller’s ID
- The Seller’s PIN Certificate
- Seller’s Colored Photos
- Land Rent & Rates Clearance Receipts
- Original Land Rent & Rates Certificates
- Relevant Consents
- Signed Transfer
So when buying land in Kenya, always remember that several steps are involved, and it’s not something you can do overnight. If you have any questions or need help, don’t hesitate to consult an estate agent or lawyer. And good luck in your search for the perfect property!