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11 Things That Changed My Understanding Of Title Deeds In Kenya

Posted by Chris Otieno on March 10, 2024

A title deed is a crucial document in Kenyan property ownership. It serves as concrete proof that you legally own a specific piece of land. Understanding title deeds is essential, especially if you’re considering buying or selling land. Here are 11 key things you need to know about title deeds in Kenya:

1. Proof of Ownership:

The most important aspect of a title deed is that it conclusively establishes your ownership of a particular piece of land. It contains details like the plot number, size, location, and your name as the registered owner.

2. Types of Title Deeds:

There are two main types of title deeds in Kenya:

  • Freehold Title Deed: This grants you absolute ownership of the land, with no time limit. It’s the most desirable type of title deed.
  • Leasehold Title Deed: This grants you ownership for a specific period, typically 99 or 1,000 years. You’ll pay rent (ground rent) to the freeholder throughout the lease term.

3. Conducting a Land Search:

Before purchasing land, it’s vital to conduct a land search at the Land Registry. This search confirms the legitimacy of the title deed, verifies the seller’s ownership, and reveals any encumbrances on the property. Encumbrances can be restrictions like mortgages, easements, or caveats that affect ownership rights.

4. Importance of a Registered Land Title:

Land ownership in Kenya transitioned from a system of Certificates of Title to a system of registered land. Ensure the title deed you’re dealing with is registered. Registered titles offer greater security and ease of transfer than Certificates of Title.

5. Content of a Title Deed:

A title deed typically includes the following information:

  • Property Details: Plot number, size, location
  • Ownership details: Name of the registered owner(s)
  • Type of Title: Freehold or Leasehold
  • Encumbrances (if any): Details of any restrictions on the property

6. Transferring Ownership:

Transferring ownership of land with a title deed involves a legal process. You’ll need a lawyer to draft a sale agreement and handle the transfer process with the Land Registry.

7. Replacing a Lost Title Deed:

You can apply for a replacement at the Land Registry if you lose your title deed. This process involves legal procedures and may take some time.

8. Subdivisions and Title Deeds:

If you subdivide your land, each resulting plot will require its own title deed. A surveyor must prepare a sub-division plan, and the Land Registry needs to be informed about the subdivision.

9. Banks and Title Deeds:

If you take a loan against your land, the bank will likely hold your title deed as security. Once the loan is fully repaid, the bank will return the title deed to you.

10. Seeking Professional Help:

Given the importance of title deeds, it’s always recommended to seek professional help from a lawyer or registered conveyancer when dealing with land transactions. They can guide you through the legal process and ensure everything is done correctly.

11. Keeping Your Title Deed Safe:

Your title deed is a valuable document. Please keep it in a secure location, like a safe deposit box, and consider getting copies for your records.

Understanding title deeds empowers you to make informed decisions regarding land ownership in Kenya. By familiarizing yourself with these key points, you can safeguard your property rights and navigate land transactions smoothly.

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