How to make a clean and legal land purchase
By Annie Awuor
| May 29th 2021
It is important to visit a lawyer before buying a piece of land.
A lawyer who specialises in real estate or property transactions will advise and guide you on the entire process of buying land and ensure your interests are protected. The lawyer should then do due diligence on the land you wish to buy to confirm it has a clean title deed. They do this by conducting an official search at the relevant land registry.
A clean title deed is one where the land is not entangled in an ownership dispute. You can additionally confirm with the registrar of persons, the identity of the land owner. All you need is their National ID number.
You determine if a title deed is real by simply presenting a copy of the land title at the land’s registry. They can confirm the status of the property and ownership.
A married woman can buy land in her own capacity as long as she satisfies and meets all the elements of entering into a legal contract. However, the land or property acquired during the subsistence of the marriage forms part of matrimonial property. Should the marriage dissolve, the property acquired in the marriage would be subject to the provisions of the Matrimonial Property Act in the distribution of the property acquired in the marriage to each party. It is recommended that property purchased during marriage be registered in the joint names of the couple. However, it is worth noting that even if the land purchased is registered in the name of one spouse, no dealings over the property like selling to a third party can be conducted thereafter without the partner’s written consent.
A wife can protect her property rights if she chooses to buy property jointly with her husband by ensuring that her name appears in all the transaction documents and eventual title to the property purchased. Additionally, she should ensure that in the document, the ownership section is put down as ‘jointly’.
It is critical for your family and trusted friends to be aware of all the property and assets you own so that upon your demise, your properties are well secured and well taken care of as per your wishes. Unfortunately, if you have ‘secret’ property and die with no will, the property forms part of unclaimed assets. Once that happens, it is held in trust by the state for a certain period before ownership reverts back to the state.
The digitisation of land transactions is still an ongoing process as not all land registries have been digitised. Currently, the pilot project is only for dealings relating to properties in Nairobi. Upon the process being finalised, transacting parties will enjoy ease of access of services and provision of convenient, fast, robust and secure platform within which transactions are carried out.
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