Land Title Deed Kenya

You’ve probably overheard or read about Land Title registration numbers changing and you are not quite how this affects you. This article will walk you through the land title conversion process to ensure your interests are safeguarded and all corners are covered? So, let us dive right into it!

Current Land Registration Regimes being Collapsed

Currently, land in Kenya is registered under different regimes which are essentially disparate pieces of legislation each having its own independent register. Here are the different regimes for your reference.

Indian Transfer of Properties Act, 1882

This Act formally referred to as The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, of India came into force on July 1, 1882 but it was repealed by The Land Registration Act, 2012.

The Government Lands Act, (Cap 280)

This Act which has since been repealed came into force on 18th May 1915. The titles issued under this Act were called Indenture Titles.

The register known as Register of Government Lands was maintained by the Principal Registrar of Government Lands in the Government Lands Registration Office.

The Registration of Titles Act, (Cap 281)

This Act came into force on two separate dates as follows:

  • The Act except for Part III commenced on 21st January 1920.
  • Part III of the Act commenced on 1st November 1920 for the Coast Province only

Under Part V of this Act, a register of tiles was required to be maintained at all registration districts. In the register were photostat copies of grants and certificates of tiles.  

The Land Titles Act, (Chapter 282)

This regime came into force on 30th November 1908. The Recorder of Titles was required to keep a register comprising photostat copies of certificates of title issued under this regime.

The Registered Land Act, (Cap. 300)

This Act commenced on 16th September 1963. It caused the constitution of areas by the Minister as land registration districts.  Within each district, the Chief Land Registrar ensured that a land register is maintained. This Act provided for both a title deed and certificate of lease.

Problems with The Current Land Registration Regimes

Since each regime had its own land register, land registration in Kenya had been made unnecessarily complex. The confusion these complexities brought, led to several problems including:

  • Creating a breeding ground for fraud
  • Causing service delivery delays
  • Threatening rights to property
  • Centralization of land services

The Land Registration Act and the New Wave of Reforms

The Land Registration Act, 2012 was assented to on 27th April 2012 and commenced on 2nd May 2012. It repealed all the above regimes and effectively established a unified land registration regime in Kenya.

It is a product of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 specifically under Article 68 on Legislation on Land. It states as follows:

68. Parliament shall—

(a) revise, consolidate, and rationalize existing land laws

It is on this spirit of consolidation, revision, and rationalization that the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning has began the land title conversion process. Under this process, land titles issued under the ambit of the repealed regimes as discussed above will be migrated to the purview of the Land Registration Act, 2012.

The Land Title Conversion Process

Section 6 of the Land Registration Act, 2012 and the Land Registration (Registration Units) Order, 2017 paragraph 4 to 9 outline what the conversion process will look like. Here is a summary of what’s involved.

Step I: Establishment of Registration Units

The Cabinet Secretary for Lands and Physical Planning in consultation with the National Land Commission and county governments will establish registration units. Each registration unit will have a land registry. For instance, Nairobi City County will have Nairobi as the land registration unit and Nairobi land registry.

Some counties such as Kiambu, Homabay, Siaya, Kajiado, Narok, Nakuru, Baringo, Embu, Kitui, Meru, and Migori will have more than one registration unit hence more than one registry. The registration units will be divided into registration sections each with a name to identify it and the sections further divided into registration blocks each with a number, letter, or a combination of both e.g., NAIROBI BLOCK 9.

Step II: Cadastral Maps and Conversion Lists

Areas with existing titles that had been issued under the repealed Acts discussed at the beginning of this article will have the Survey Office prepare cadastral maps and conversion list for the registration units, sections, or blocks.

The conversion list will show for each parcel of land the new parcel number (New Parcel No) and where applicable the old land reference number (Old LR. No.) including the area of the parcel in hectares. The Survey Office shall send the conversion list and the cadastral maps to the Registrar for onward submission to the Cabinet Secretary.

Step III: Publishing of Cadastral Maps and Conversion List

The Cabinet Secretary for Lands and Physical Planning shall publish the cadastral maps and conversion list within 30 days after receiving the same from the registrar. The publications will be in the Gazette and at least two daily newspapers. This is in line with paragraph 4(4) of the Land Registration (Registration Units) Order, 2017.

The Cabinet Secretary will also send copies of publication to County Governments for further dissemination to the public. The publication will also specify a date, not exceeding 4 months from when the registry shall open for land transactions and dealings within the respective registration units.

At the time of this writing, the Cabinet Secretary had already issued two gazette notices as follows:

  • First Gazette notice: Issued on January 12, 2021 and covers a section of Nairobi land registration blocks. The Cabinet Secretary also cited 1st April 2021 as the commencement date for all land dealings and transactions to be carried out in the new register.
  • Second Gazette Notice no 520: This was published on 26th January 2021 and the commencement date for all land dealings and transactions in the new register set for 10th May 2021.

Step IV: Complaints

If you have an interest in land within a registration unit and you feel aggrieved by the information contained in the cadastral maps and conversion list, you can make a complaint to the Registrar within 90 days from the date of publication. The Registrar will also have 90 from the date of receipt of the complaint to have it resolved.

If you are not happy with the decision of the Registrar, you have 90 days from the date the decision is made to appeal to the Environment and Land Court or any other court that has jurisdiction on land matters.

Step V: Commencement Date

On the commencement date all dealings and transactions on land in each registration unit will be done on the respective new registers.  All the registers maintained in the other registries under the repealed laws will be officially closed for any dealings. However, they will be maintained at the registration unit for reference.

The transition land register maintained under section 104 (1) of the Land Registration Act, 2012 will also be closed on the commencement date for any entries. All details will be transferred to the respective registries in the different registration units.

 Step VI: Application for title replacements

The Registrar will publish in at least two daily newspapers and announce through radio a notice inviting registered owners of titles issued under the closed registers to make applications for title replacements. The applications will be done using a prescribed form- Form LRA 97.

Bottom Line

The aim of the land titles conversion process is to collapse all existing land registration processes previously done under the repealed laws into one. All titles issued under the repealed laws will cancelled and issued afresh under the Land Registration Act, 2012.

The conversion process will see Deed Plans replaced by Registry Index Maps. The difference is that Deed Plans capture only data on a specific parcel of land while Registry Index Maps capture all parcels within an area.

You therefore need to take note of the converted parcel numbers as and when published to ensure your parcel of land is captured correctly.

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