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Can Foreigners Own Land in Kenya?

Posted by Nulands on July 3, 2024
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If you’ve been thinking about owning land in Kenya as a foreigner, you might be wondering if it’s even possible. The rules around land ownership for foreigners in Kenya can be a bit tricky but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Let’s break it down together.

Can Foreigners Own Land in Kenya?

In short, yes, foreigners can own land in Kenya, but there are some important restrictions and regulations you need to be aware of. 

The Kenyan Constitution and the Land Control Act place certain limitations on land ownership by non-citizens, primarily to protect national interests and ensure equitable land distribution.

What Types of Land Can Foreigners Own?

Foreigners are allowed to own land in Kenya, but only under leasehold tenure

This means that you can lease land for a maximum of 99 years, but you cannot own it on a freehold basis. 

Freehold ownership, which grants indefinite ownership rights, is reserved for Kenyan citizens only. 

So, if you’re planning to invest in property in Kenya, you’ll be looking at leasehold agreements.

Leasehold vs. Freehold: What’s the Difference?

Leasehold

This is a temporary right to use the land, typically for up to 99 years

At the end of the lease period, the land reverts to the government, and you may need to renew the lease. 

Leasehold land often comes with certain conditions, such as development requirements or specific land use restrictions.

Freehold

This is the permanent and absolute ownership of land

Freehold landowners have the most comprehensive rights, including the right to sell, lease, or develop the land as they see fit. 

In Kenya, freehold land ownership is only available to Kenyan citizens.

How Can Foreigners Acquire Land in Kenya?

There are a few ways foreigners can acquire land in Kenya:

    • Purchase Leasehold Land: As mentioned, foreigners can purchase land on a leasehold basis. This involves negotiating a lease agreement, usually with a term of up to 99 years.

    • Inheritance: Foreigners can inherit land in Kenya, but the inherited land will still be subject to leasehold tenure.

    • Investing in Companies: Another way for foreigners to own land is through investing in a Kenyan company. If a company is at least 51% Kenyan-owned, it can own land on a freehold basis. As a shareholder, you can have indirect ownership of the land through the company.

    What Are the Legal Requirements?

    To legally own land in Kenya as a foreigner, you’ll need to go through a few steps:

    1. Legal Representation: 

    Hire a Kenyan lawyer to help you navigate the legalities and ensure all documents are in order.

    2. Land Search: 

    Conduct a land search at the Ministry of Lands to verify the ownership and status of the land.

    3. Sale Agreement: 

    Draft a sale agreement outlining the terms of the purchase.

    4. Consent from the Land Control Board: 

    Obtain consent from the local Land Control Board for the transaction.

    5. Stamp Duty: 

    Pay the required stamp duty, which is a tax on the legal document transferring ownership.

    6. Registration: 

    Register the leasehold title with the Ministry of Lands.

    Are There Restrictions on Land Use?

    Yes, there are certain restrictions on how foreigners can use the land they lease. For example, agricultural land is generally restricted, and foreigners cannot lease agricultural land without special approval from the government.

     Additionally, there might be specific conditions attached to the lease regarding development or land use.

    Benefits of Owning Land in Kenya

    Despite the restrictions, owning land in Kenya as a foreigner can offer several benefits:

        • Investment Opportunities: Kenya’s real estate market has been growing, providing lucrative investment opportunities.

        • Beautiful Locations: Kenya offers stunning landscapes, from coastal regions to highlands, making it an attractive destination for holiday homes or retirement properties.

        • Economic Growth: Kenya’s economy is one of the fastest-growing in Africa, making it a promising place to invest in property.

      Final Thoughts

      Owning land in Kenya as a foreigner is possible, but it comes with its set of rules and regulations. Understanding these can help you navigate the process smoothly. 

      Whether you’re looking to invest, build a holiday home, or start a business, Kenya offers a wealth of opportunities. 

      Just make sure to get the right legal advice and follow the necessary steps to ensure your investment is secure and compliant with Kenyan laws.

      Thinking of buying land in Kenya? Let our expert team guide you diligently through the process. Give us a call at  0708 592177 / 0740212121

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