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Ministry lifts ban on renewal of land leases

By Geoffrey Mosoku and Cyrus Ombati | Jun 5th 2017 | 2 min read
Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi. (Photo: Collins Oduor, Standard)

The lands agency is expected to start renewing and extending leases after an embargo on the exercise was lifted.

A memorandum on guidelines for extension and renewal of land leases prepared by Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi has since been approved by the Cabinet and is awaiting gazettment.

Kaimenyi confirmed the approval, saying he would gazette the guidelines by next Friday.

"Latest Friday next week," he said is a short text message when reached for comment on when he will publish the guidelines in the Kenya Gazette.

This now means National Land Commission (NLC) will have sweeping powers to determine extension of leases.

On December 16, 2016, the Cabinet directed the Lands ministry to halt any further processing of leases until the system was streamlined following a spate of fraudulent renewals.

In the Cabinet memo, Kaimenyi said leasehold property owners had experienced challenges while seeking to redevelop their properties as they required leases to secure funds from financial institutions.

This has also affected people who are undertaking succession and banks that have existing charges on the proprieties whose leases have expired or are about to.

Revenue collection

"This has impacted negatively on the economy as witnessed by a reduction in land transactions, redevelopment of land and decrease in revenue collection," Kaimenyi said.

Once gazetted, land owners seeking to renew or extend their leases will apply to the NLC which will then, within seven days, forward the same to the Ministry of Lands or county lands executive if the land is under a county.

Representatives of the county and national governments may approve the extension of lease for a specified period or decline and give reasons within 90 days of the application.

Reasons for rejection include where the national or county government requires the land for public use or proof the existing lease conditions have not been complied with.

NLC will can trigger renewal on their own motion by writing to land owners, within five years to the expiry of the lease, as the law gives them 'presumptive rights'.

Appeals committee

Those whose request will be denied have an avenue to appeal. The Appeals committee will be chaired by NLC chairman and will have either other members who include county minister for lands, county commissioner, representatives from Kenya Institute of Planners, Institute of Surveyors of Kenya, Law Society of Kenya, Kenya Bankers Association, Kenya Private Sector Alliance and a member of the Land Control Board.

This comes at a time when Kaimenyi's attempt to come up with regulations to guide land registration were stopped following a case lodged in court by activist Okiya Omtatah.

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