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Types of Title Deeds in Kenya and How to Obtain Them

Posted by Chris Otieno on March 6, 2024

Owning land in Kenya is a significant milestone, representing not only an investment but also a sense of security and achievement. However, securing a piece of land goes beyond just making a purchase. Obtaining a title deed, the official document proving your ownership is crucial to establishing and protecting your legal rights. 

But with different types of title deeds existing in Kenya, navigating the process can feel overwhelming. This comprehensive guide will not only demystify the various types of title deeds in Kenya but also shed light on how to successfully obtain each one.

Exploring the Different Types of Title Deeds in Kenya

Kenya recognizes three main types of title deeds, each catering to different land ownership scenarios:

  • Absolute Title Deed (Freehold Title Deed):
    • This is considered the highest form of land ownership in Kenya.
    • It grants the owner full and unrestricted ownership of the land, allowing them to use, sell, lease, or inherit the land without limitations.
    • Obtaining an Absolute Title Deed typically involves acquiring land through purchase from a private seller or government allocation.
  • Certificate of Lease (Leasehold Title Deed):
    • This type of title deed signifies ownership of land for a specific period, usually ranging from 50 to 99 years.
    • Leasehold titles are commonly issued for land owned by the government or other entities that grant leasing rights for a defined period.
    • Securing a Leasehold Title Deed often involves acquiring land through government leases or private leases from individuals or organizations.
  • Sectional Title Deed:
    • This title deed applies to units within a multi-owned building such as an apartment or flat.
    • It grants ownership of the specific individual unit within the broader development, along with shared ownership of the common areas like hallways, staircases, and amenities.
    • Obtaining a Sectional Title Deed typically involves purchasing a unit in a registered development with a master title deed held by the developer.

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining a Title Deed in Kenya

While the specific steps may vary slightly depending on the type of title deed, the general process for obtaining one in Kenya involves the following:

  1. Engage a Lawyer: Consulting with a qualified lawyer specializing in property law is highly recommended. They can guide you through the process, ensure compliance with legal requirements, and address any complexities that may arise.
  2. Gather Necessary Documents: Depending on the type of title deed and the specific situation, you may need various documents such as:
    • Proof of identity (National ID or passport)
    • Land search certificate
    • Sale agreement (if applicable)
    • Valuation report (for stamp duty calculation)
    • Consent to transfer (from relevant authorities, if applicable)
    • Payment receipts (land registry fees, stamp duty, etc.)
  3. Conduct Due Diligence: This involves thoroughly investigating the land and verifying its ownership, any existing encumbrances (restrictions), and compliance with regulations.
  4. Complete Required Procedures: Depending on the title deed type, this may involve applying for land consent, paying stamp duty, submitting documents to the Land Registry Office, and completing transfer forms.
  5. Register the Title Deed: Once processing is complete, the Land Registry Office will issue the official title deed, formally registering you as the legal owner of the land.

Additional Tips for a Smooth Title Deed Acquisition Process

  • Maintain clear copies of all documents throughout the process.
  • Verify the authenticity of documents provided by sellers or other parties.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions if anything is unclear, especially when dealing with legal aspects.
  • Consider property valuation insurance to protect yourself against potential errors in land valuation affecting stamp duty calculations.

Final Thoughts

By understanding the different types of title deeds and following these tips, you can confidently embark on the journey of securing your land ownership in Kenya. Remember, seeking professional guidance from a lawyer can significantly enhance the process and ensure a secure and successful acquisition of your title deed.

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