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Don’t gamble when buying property

By Harold Ayodo | September 1st 2016

Three months ago, I was introduced to a broker who was said to be important in ensuring buyers acquired prime plots in Kajiado County. We went and viewed the plot. It was a serviced plot which was connected to electricity and water, had security and was accessible to the main road. Impressed, I paid the Sh800,000 price and immediately started constructing a family house. However, I am yet to get the legal documents proving that the land is mine.

I narrated my ordeal to a colleague who said that I should have engaged a property lawyer as buying property is a process that requires several documents. The broker has since stopped answering my calls. I made an official report to the police station but I didn’t know his full name. I am ready to take a loan to purchase another plot as I had already assured my wife and family that we would move into our own home in December. I would appreciate your advice on which are some of these documents required in land transactions.

Peter, Nairobi.

The documents required to complete transfer of ownership at the Ministry of Lands include the original title deed and consent to transfer signed by the Registrar of Lands.

There are also transfer forms – in triplicate – with passport-size photographs of the buyer and seller affixed, complete with signatures and attestation by the conveyancer (property lawyer).

Also required are land rent clearance certificate from the Ministry of Lands as proof that the seller settled the dues with the government.

A land rates clearance certificate from the county as indication that the seller has paid up revenues with the local authorities.

Also required are copies of national identity cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN) of both buyer and seller attested by advocates as true copies of the original.

Having the documents are not enough, as they have to be presented to the Ministry of Lands after payment of stamp duty.

After presentation of the documents to the Ministry of Lands, the title deed will be returned – usually in less than a month – with the name of the buyer.

It is important for prospective investors to know that following legal procedures when acquiring property is the best defence.

Ignorance of the law is never an excuse – the State will not compensate investors who overlook legal procedures when buying plots and houses to save on “hidden” costs.

— The writer is an advocate of the High Court.

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