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Getting your paperwork right before investing

By | March 1st 2012

By Harold Ayodo

Many Kenyans planning to spend their savings or take loans to invest in property thought twice after the many demolitions that rocked the city recently.

It was even more shocking that many of the investors whose homes were reduced to debris had no legal documents to prove ownership. It is unfortunate that ignorance of the law is never an excuse — the Government will not compensate those who bought plots and constructed homes illegally, whether they were aware or not.

Similar demolitions await developers who constructed commercial and residential buildings in grabbed public land in Athi River and other areas in the city. However, the saying ‘once beaten twice shy’ seems to be guiding many prospective investors now.

Unlike before, the level of awareness among investors in real estate is growing and many of them are seeking legal advice before paying for desired properties. Conveyancers (certified property lawyers) concur that their firms are witnessing an increase of clients with intentions of buying or selling property.

Fire fighters

Traditionally, many clients ignored professional legal assistance when purchasing plots or houses only to engage conveyancers after the transactions hit the rocks. Many lawyers were reduced to fire fighters trying to correct the errors and omissions of clients that overlooked important property laws.

Take the case of our reader, James Sego, who says he realised that he might not have acquired all the necessary documents for a plot he bought in Ngong. Sego says he was satisfied when the seller gave him the original title deed after paying the agreed Sh1.2 million for the quarter acre plot.

Although the title deed is important, it is not the only document that shows ownership of property.

Another document required to prove complete transfer of property is consent to transfer signed by the Commissioner of Lands. Transfer forms — in triplicate copies — with passport size photographs of the buyer and seller, complete with signatures and attestation by the conveyancer should also be provided.

Also required are land rent clearance certificate from the Ministry of Lands as proof that the seller settled the dues with the Government. In case land administration is under the local authorities, a land rates clearance certificate from the municipality should be obtained as indication that the seller has paid all revenues.

New owner

Attested copies of national identity cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN) of the buyer and seller are also required.

All these documents are presented to the Ministry of Lands where the transfer to the new owner is processed. The new title deed should be ready in about a month.

The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

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