Land is one of the most important factors of production. In definition, it is simply the surface of the earth. But in reality, it includes all that, which is available free of cost from nature as a gift to human beings. It is all nature, living and nonliving, which is used in production.
For most of us, however, the form of production we put our land in is construction, if in urban areas, and farming if properly located, of the right size and with water or availability of rain. And to be able to do this, the land must be acquired, either through inheritance or purchase.
Purchase of land in Kenya has been a dicey matter. If not careful, one is likely to end up buying a piece of land from people who do not own it. One can also buy land that is in dispute or which belongs to the public. All this has been made possible by collusion between fraudsters and officials in the department of lands.
To avoid instances where one can engage in fraudulent land dealings, we have consulted our lawyers who have given us some insights into the process of land buying.
The first step would be to ask to see the title deed of the land you are interested in buying. This assuming that you have already identified the piece of land, seen it and you are already in communication with whoever claims to be the owner, whether it is an individual or group or corporate.
You will then need to do two searches. The first one with the Ministry of Lands to determine that the land actually belongs to the person who says it is theirs. This search also helps to see if there are any caveats on the land. This search costs about Kshs 600. The second search will be with the local authority or county government to establish if there are any unpaid land rates. If any, you must agree at the onset with the seller on who will bear the costs of clearing the land rates.
The next step would be visiting Survey of Kenya to purchase two maps. One will be showing the exact dimensions of the piece of land (usually called a mutation) and the other one will show you the neighbouring plots. These two maps will set you back about Kshs 1,000. Armed with these two maps and a surveyor (or even by yourself), visit the land you are buying and verify the details on the map. Check out all the beacons and ensure they tally with what the map shows.
If all above is satisfying, then finalize on the pricing with the landowner. Draft an agreement and it is highly recommended that you use a lawyer for this. It is important that the land owner’s spouse is present during the sale of the land.
Pay a deposit for the land as per your agreement. It is important that you only pay a portion at this point irrespective of whether you have all the funds in place. Then book a meeting with the lands control board that mostly meets once a month. Booking a meeting will cost Kshs 1,000. The board will issue a consent for the land to be sold. Only after this consent is given should you pay the balance for the land.
With the consent from the board, a recent search of the land, clearance from county government on rates payment, the two maps, the land purchase agreement, copy of ID, KRA PIN, two passport photos and the original title deed, head to the ministry of lands to change ownership. This will set you back Kshs 5,000. Once that happens, you can then pay stamp duty based on the land value.
Then you can wait for the title deed of the land to be ready in your name.
If you follow the above process and still get defrauded, you will have a lot of documentation to follow up on the trail and establish the missing link. It is unlikely that things will go wrong.