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13 Mistakes to Avoid When Getting a Title Deed in Kenya

Posted by Chris Otieno on March 6, 2024
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Owning a piece of land is a significant milestone in Kenya, representing an investment in your future and potentially bringing a sense of security. However, securing a title deed, the official document proving ownership can be a complex process. To ensure a smooth and successful experience, avoiding certain pitfalls is crucial. Here are 13 mistakes to be aware of:

This is the most critical step. Verify the seller’s legal identity and their genuine ownership of the land. You can achieve this by:

1. Not Verifying the Seller’s Identity and Ownership

  • Requesting certified copies of their national ID and title deed.
  • Conducting a search at the Land Registry Office to confirm ownership and any existing encumbrances (restrictions) on the land.
  • Engaging a lawyer to conduct a thorough due diligence process.

2. Lack of Professional Guidance

Navigating the legalities and paperwork associated with title deeds can be challenging. Consider seeking professional guidance from:

  • A lawyer specializing in property law: They can advise you on legal aspects, handle negotiations, and ensure the entire process adheres to the law.
  • A land surveyor: They can verify the land’s boundaries and ensure the title deed accurately reflects them.

3. Rushing the Process

Don’t be pressured into a quick deal. Take your time to:

  • Thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of the sale agreement.
  • Conduct necessary due diligence.
  • Seek professional advice and address any concerns.

4. Ignoring Hidden Costs

The actual purchase price might not be the only expense. Consider additional costs such as:

  • Stamp duty: A government tax paid on transferring ownership of land.
  • Land registration fees: Paid to the Land Registry Office for processing the title deed.
  • Lawyer fees: Consultation and legal services.
  • Surveyor fees: Verification of land boundaries.

5. Overlooking Encumbrances

An encumbrance is a legal claim on the land, such as a mortgage or a lease. Ensure the title deed is free of any encumbrances or that you understand the implications if they exist.

6. Not Understanding Land Use Regulations

Each area has specific regulations governing land use. Research and understand these regulations to ensure your intended use of the land complies with the law.

7. Paying Deposits Without Receipts

Never pay any deposits or full payments without receiving official receipts. This serves as proof of your transaction and protects you in case of disputes.

8. Ignoring Red Flags

Be wary of situations that seem too good to be true, like unrealistically low prices or sellers pushing for a fast transaction.

9. Not Reading the Sale Agreement Carefully

This document outlines the terms and conditions of the sale. Read it carefully, understand every clause, and don’t hesitate to ask your lawyer for clarification.

10. Forgoing Insurance

Consider acquiring title deed insurance to protect yourself from potential risks like fraudulent ownership claims or hidden defects on the land.

11. Failing to Register the Title Deed

Once you receive the title deed, it’s crucial to register it with the Land Registry Office. This officially confirms your ownership and protects your rights.

12. Not Updating Information

In case of changes like inheriting the land or selling it, ensure you update the title deed information accordingly at the Land Registry Office.

13. Neglecting Property Taxes

As the legal owner, you are responsible for paying property taxes. Neglecting these payments can lead to penalties and even potential legal repercussions.

By being aware of these potential pitfalls and taking the necessary precautions, you can significantly increase your chances of obtaining your title deed smoothly and securely. Remember, this guide does not constitute professional legal advice, and it’s always recommended to seek guidance from qualified professionals to ensure a successful and protected land acquisition journey.

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