10 foolproof steps of land transfer in Kenya

Step 1: Search at Ministry of Lands

Do search with Ministry of Lands at district or county HQ; this will reveal

> the true land owners and the presence of brokers,
> If the title has been charged of has a caveat e.g title used to secure a loan, or a court a court order caveat on the land etc

A search cost 520/= and should be ready normally within two hours. A search should be no more than six months old.

Step 2: Search at Local County Offices

Do the search with the Local Council (municipal or county). This will confirm any unpaid Land rates which you will need to factor in when deciding the purchase price. Cost would vary from county to county e.g in Nairobi you will be required to have a certificate of clearance from the Nairobi County which costs 7,500 and should be ready normally within two hours.

If there are prevailing land rates you would need to agree with the owner who will settle them hence it will affect the purchase price to that extent.

Step 3: Land Map

Visit the local surveyor and purchase a map of the place, they are normally two maps one drawn to scale (informally known as tracing) and another showing the neighboring farms. Cost: 300 per map you may buy these at lands ministry.

Step 4: Ground Verification

Armed with the map, the surveyor and the seller visit the land on the ground. Have a tape measure to confirm the dimension from the map drawn to scale. Make sure you see the beacons or replace the lost ones Surveyors charge about 1000 per bacon.
(I believe this should be paid by seller as the land is still his however it may be paid by either party or even do a cost sharing depend on who is more desperate. In extreme cases especially in the villages the neighbors would be invited so that if they have disputes on the land borders can be sorted.)

Step 5: Agreement

The law requires any land transaction to be in writing. While it is not a must a lawyer be involved it is very advisable to have a lawyer. According to the tariff provided by Law Society of Kenya the lawyer should charge 3000 if land is 1,000,000 and below 8000 if land value is above 1,000,000. Lawyers cost is normally shared 50:50 between buyer and seller.

Step 6: Post Agreement Transaction

After this everything now depends on the agreement. According to the agreement whether you are paying cash or by installment the seller will demand some money. Ensure by the time you make the initial payment the title deed and other legal documents are in the custody of the lawyers.

Consider a scenario where the seller charges the title with the bank for a loan a day after you did the search at the Ministry of Lands (step 1). The search would be a clean but the title isn’t available by the time you are at step 6(remember he can take a loan in the middle of your transaction if he continues to keep the title)

Paying at this stage this is the norm since the seller will demand a commitment from you in cash form, however in my view step No. 7 should come before step no. 6

Step 7: Land Control Board

Book the Land Control Board (LCB). The LCB Is a forum made of the D.O aNd the local village elders. They are the ones who give the final consent for the land to be sold. They meet once a month. Their role is to protect the seller from self destruction e.g. where a man is selling land without wife knowledge and they don’t have anywhere to go.

Why I believe you should attend LCB before paying any money: assume you pay Fist installment of 500,000 then you go for LCB and it refuses to give consent. You would ask for refund and the seller would say he doesn’t have the money therefore you should wait.

What do you do…? that’s a court case and 3 years later the case not yet decided. Sometimes sorry to say it’s a conspiracy between husband and wife (when we go refuse the land be sold) here is where most land cases are.

LCB cost 1000/= however there is a special Land Contol Bond (SCLB) which involves only the D.O and the two transacting parties instead of waiting for the main LCB which meets once per month. Cost: 5,000/=, time 2 hours depending with availability of D.O

Step 8: Land Transfer

After all payments, seller signs Land Transfer Forms which together with Consent from LCB, land search – not more than 6 months old(see step 1) clearance from county/ municipal council (that you have paid all land rates) and old title deed you go to Ministry of Lands to change ownership. Time 2 weeks.

Note it’s possible that the land transfer documents be signed in advance and be deposited with the lawyer i.e when you pay the first installment (see step 6). This ensures that the seller cannot backtrack.

Step 9: Stamp Duty and Transfer Fees

After you have all the transfer documents as stated in Step 8 you need the seller no more. However you will also need to pay stamp duty based on value of land i.e 4% for Municipalities 2% for reserve. i.e if your land is in the municipality and you bought at 1,000,000 you pay stamp duty of 40,000.

Notice the values of land could be different from the purchase price and in such cases, though rare, the Ministry of Land official will demand a valuation. In most cases they just use the purchase price.

Step 10: Post Purchase Activity

After one week the buyer should do another search with Ministry of Lands to confirm that the land now reads his details