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It is your responsibility to maintain boundaries

By Harold Ayodo | February 23rd 2017
A house with a perimetre fence in Syokimau. The law requires property owners to maintain boundaries. [PHOTO: WILBERFORCE OKWIRI/standard]

I bought a plot in Kajiado County and engaged a surveyor who took measurements in line with a map obtained from the Ministry of Lands. A neighbour who bought an adjacent plot recently brought a map that allegedly shows that nearly half of his plot overlaps mine. He brought a surveyor who took measurements of the area and came up with the correct measurements as per the map. What does the law say about boundaries? Can such boundary disputes be resolved in court or by the land registrar?

Mark, Kajiado.

Property boundaries remain a common source of disputes leading to legal battles. There are court cases where investors accuse their neighbours of allegedly hiving off their property by removing beacons.

Many buyers of plots fence them off with either barbed wire, stone fences or hedges to mark or protect their boundaries. It is important to have boundaries as the court may most likely not entertain disputes of properties without legal demarcations.

The law also requires property owners to maintain in good order the fences, hedges, stones, pillars, beacons, walls and other features that demarcate boundaries.

The registrar may also - in writing - order the demarcation within a specified time of any boundary mark.

Any property owner who fails to comply with the order of the registrar commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh200,000.

According to the Land Registration Act, the registrar may order which of adjoining property owners to be responsible for the care and maintenance of any feature demarcating a common boundary.

Failure to adhere to the directive of the registrar leads to conviction of a fine not exceeding Sh200,000.

Section 21 of the Land Registration Act provides conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, a fine of up to Sh200,000 or both to anyone who defaces or removes a boundary without instructions of the registrar.

Moreover, anyone found guilty of interfering with a property boundary shall also be liable to pay costs of restoring it.

Legally, there is a procedure of fixing boundaries that requires the registrar to inform owners of adjoining boundaries the intention after it has been surveyed.

The registrar is also required to give the owners an opportunity to be heard on the set demarcation before filing the plan in the register.

In instances where the dimensions and boundaries are defined by reference to a plan verified by the survey department, a note should be made in the register.

— The writer is an advocate of the High Court.

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