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Registering Property in

Kenya

Below is a detailed summary of the steps, time and cost involved in registering property in Kenya. It assumes a standardized case of an entrepreneur who wants to purchase land and a building that is already registered and free of title dispute.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 190 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2016.

Compare Kenya to 189 other economies.

  • Measure of efficiency
    No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
    1

    Apply and Obtain Land Rent Clearance Certificate from the Commissioner of Lands

    Agency: Lands Office

    The Seller's lawyer obtains the Land Rent Clearance Certificate from the lands office at no cost.
    19 days (simultaneous with Procedures 2, 3 and 4) no cost
    * 2

    Apply, pay and obtain Rates Clearance Certificate from the Nairobi City Council

    Agency: Nairobi City County Government

    The Seller's lawyer obtains the Rates Clearance Certificate from the Nairobi City County Government. This certificate is important proof that there are no outstanding fees to be paid to the Nairobi City County Government.
    5 days (simultaneous with Procedure 1, 3 and 4 ) KES 10,000
    * 3

    Draft the transfer instrument and file it at the Lands Office to obtain an appointment for valuation

    Agency: Lawyer's office

    The transfer instrument is prepared by the buyer’s lawyer and needs to be approved by the seller’s counterpart. Lawyers' fees are calculated based on a fixed scale published under the Advocates (Remuneration) Order depending on the value of the property. Lawyers are also permitted to charge on alternative billing methods subject to the minimum fees set out under the scaled provided for under the Advocates (Remuneration) Order.
    The transfer instrument is filed at the Land office to be assessed for Stamp duty.
    4 days (simultaneous with 1,2 and 4) According to the Advocates Remuneration Order for 2014 the lawyer's fee is calculated cumulatively, based on the property's value:
    (i) from Kshs. 1 to Kshs. 5,000,000, 2% of the consideration or
    the value of the subject matter or Kshs. 35,000 whichever is
    higher.
    (ii) from Kshs. 5,000,001 to Kshs.100,000,000, the fee
    prescribed in (i) plus 1.5% of the balance.
    (iii) from Kshs.100,000,001 to Kshs. 250,000,000, the fee
    prescribed in (ii) plus 1.25 % of the balance.
    (iv) from Kshs. 250,000,001 to Kshs.1,000,000,000, the fee
    prescribed in (iii) plus 1% of the balance
    (v) in respect of an amount where the consideration or value is
    more than Kshs.1,000,000,000, the fee set out in (iv) plus
    0.1% of the balance.
    * 4

    Apply for a search on the title at the Lands Office

    Agency: Lands Office

    The Registered Land Act has been repealed by the Land Registration Act (Act No. 3 of 2012). For land previously registered under the Registered Land Act, it is still necessary to provide a copy of the title document at the time of applying for the search. The position reported last year i.e. one cannot carry out a personal search but must instead apply for an official search still applies.
    3 days (simultaneous with Procedures 1, 2 and 4) KES 520
    5

    Apply and obtain consent to transfer from the Lands Office

    Agency: Lands office

    With effect from August 27, 2010 when the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 was promulgated, the Land Registration Act (No. 3 of 2012) repealed the Government Lands Act (Cap. 280) and consent to transfer leasehold land held by the Government of the Republic of Kenya under the repealed Act is now required to be obtained from the lands office. Previously, such consent was required to be obtained from the Commissioner of Lands and that office was abolished by the repeal of the Government Lands Act.
    9 days KES 1,000
    6

    Receive site inspection by Government valuer and obtain valuation report

    Agency: Lands office Valuer

    Once the draft transfer has been filed at the land office, an inspector visits the site to verify the development and state of the property. Due to lack of transport, in practice, the inspector often has to be picked up in person and driven to the site. Previously, such inspections were conducted on a random basis, but now every transaction requires such an inspection. The issues involved are similar to the inspections by the land officer and, therefore, may happen within 1 day to up to over one month. Once the valuer has inspected the property to assess its value, a report is compiled after which the value is endorsed on the transfer and then it is submitted for assessment of the Stamp duty.
    20 days no cost
    7

    Endorsement of value for stamp duty purposes and assessment of Stamp duty

    Agency: Lands Office

    The Stamp Duty Assessment form is completed including the purchase price (in quadruplet). The stamp duty assessment officer stationed at the Ministry of Lands banking hall will then assess the stamp duty payable and indicate the amount on the Forms. Stamping of the document takes on average 3 days.
    4 days no cost
    8

    Payment of Stamp Duty at Commercial Bank and receive confirmation of payment from Kenya Revenue Authority

    Agency: Commercial Bank

    The payment of Stamp Duty is made at a Commercial Banks designated by the Ministry of Land. If the amount exceed k.shs. 1 million, payment is made by RTGS bank transfer. It takes about 4 days for the Kenya Revenue Authority to confirm receipt of payment after which the transfer agreement can be franked or embossed evidencing payment of stamp duty.
    4 days KES 110 (charge for Banker’s check) + 4% of property value (stamp Duty)
    9

    Lodge stamped transfer document for registration and receive duly registered documents

    Agency: Lands Office

    The stamped transfer documents are lodged for registration at the Lands Office. These documents are generally obtained from seller’s lawyers, these being original Certificate of Title, Rates Clearance Certificate, Land Rent Clearance Certificate, and the Consent Transfer. Inform seller’s lawyers of registration and pay balance of the purchase price. The certificate of the registered transfer is collected at the Lands Office.
    5 days KES 500

    * Takes place simultaneously with previous procedure.

  • Measure of quality
    Answer Score
    Quality of the land administration index (0-30) 16.0
    Reliability of infrastructure index (0-8) 7.0
    What is the institution in charge of immovable property registration? Lands Office
    In what format are the majority of title or deed records kept in the largest business city—in a paper format or in a computerized format (scanned or fully digital)? Computer/Fully digital 2.0
    Is there an electronic database for checking for encumbrances (liens, mortgages, restrictions and the like)? Yes 1.0
    In what format are the majority of maps of land plots kept in the largest business city—in a paper format or in a computerized format (scanned or fully digital)? Computer/Fully digital 2.0
    Is there an electronic database for recording boundaries, checking plans and providing cadastral information (geographic information system)? Yes 1.0
    Is the information recorded by the immovable property registration agency and the cadastral or mapping agency kept in a single database, in different but linked databases or in separate databases? Separate databases 0.0
    Do the immovable property registration agency and cadastral or mapping agency use the same identification number for properties? Yes 1.0
    Transparency of information index (0–6) 4.0
    Who is able to obtain information on land ownership at the agency in charge of immovable property registration in the largest business city? Anyone who pays the official fee 1.0
    Is the list of documents that are required to complete any type of property transaction made publicly available–and if so, how? Yes, online 0.5
    Link for online access: http://www.ardhi.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/MOLHUD_Service_Charter_Mo...
    Is the applicable fee schedule for any property transaction at the agency in charge of immovable property registration in the largest business city made publicly available–and if so, how? Yes, online 0.5
    Link for online access: http://www.ardhi.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/MOLHUD_Service_Charter_Mo...
    Does the agency in charge of immovable property registration commit to delivering a legally binding document that proves property ownership within a specific time frame–and if so, how does it communicate the service standard? Yes, online 0.5
    Link for online access: http://www.ardhi.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/MOLHUD_Service_Charter_Mo...
    Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the agency in charge of immovable property registration? No 0.0
    Are there publicly available official statistics tracking the number of transactions at the immovable property registration agency? No 0.0
    Number of property transfers in the largest business city in 2015:
    Who is able to consult maps of land plots in the largest business city? Anyone who pays the official fee 0.5
    Is the applicable fee schedule for accessing maps of land plots made publicly available—and if so, how? Yes, online 0.5
    Link for online access: http://www.ardhi.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/MOLHUD_Service_Charter_Mo...
    Does the cadastral or mapping agency commit to delivering an updated map within a specific time frame—and if so, how does it communicate the service standard? Yes, online 0.5
    Link for online access: http://www.ardhi.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/MOLHUD_Service_Charter_Mo...
    Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the cadastral or mapping agency? No 0.0
    Geographic coverage index (0–8) 0.0
    Are all privately held land plots in the economy formally registered at the immovable property registry? No 0.0
    Are all privately held land plots in the largest business city formally registered at the immovable property registry? No 0.0
    Are all privately held land plots in the economy mapped? No 0.0
    Are all privately held land plots in the largest business city mapped? No 0.0
    Land dispute resolution index (0–8) 5.0
    Does the law require that all property sale transactions be registered at the immovable property registry to make them opposable to third parties? Yes 1.5
    Is the system of immovable property registration subject to a state or private guarantee? Yes 0.5
    Is there a specific compensation mechanism to cover for losses incurred by parties who engaged in good faith in a property transaction based on erroneous information certified by the immovable property registry? No 0.0
    Does the legal system require a control of legality of the documents necessary for a property transaction (e.g., checking the compliance of contracts with requirements of the law)? Yes 0.5
    If yes, who is responsible for checking the legality of the documents? Registrar; Notary; Lawyer.
    Does the legal system require verification of the identity of the parties to a property transaction? Yes 0.5
    If yes, who is responsible for verifying the identity of the parties? Registrar; Notary; Lawyer.
    Is there a national database to verify the accuracy of identity documents? Yes 1.0
    For a standard land dispute between two local businesses over tenure rights of a property worth 50 times gross national income (GNI) per capita and located in the largest business city, what court would be in charge of the case in the first instance? Environment and Land Court
    How long does it take on average to obtain a decision from the first-instance court for such a case (without appeal)? Between 2 and 3 years 1.0
    Are there any statistics on the number of land disputes in the first instance? No 0.0
    Number of land disputes in the largest business city in 2015:
    Equal access to property rights index (-2–0) 0.0
    Do unmarried men and unmarried women have equal ownership rights to property? Yes 0.0
    Do married men and married women have equal ownership rights to property? Yes 0.0