How to Find and Buy Land in Kenya

Buying land in Kenya is not as complicated, but buyers need to take certain precautions.

When one talks of buying land in Kenya, what usually comes to our mind is ‘expensive.’ Over the recent years, the value of land in Kenya has appreciated tremendously. To many people, the hustle of looking for, and purchasing the land may seem tedious and complicated.

Most people also believe that land purchase deals in most cases are saturated with corruption. The Kenyan constitution allows every citizen to have a right to purchase and acquire land from any county as long as they have complied with the required procedures.

Steps when buying land in Kenya

Find land to buy in Kenya

This is the initial stage of purchase a land whereby the future land owner identifies land and determines if it meets all his/her criteria. Some of the features land buyers in Kenya look for includes the type of soil on that land, the location of the land, and the size of the land.

There are different ways of finding the property to purchase. This range from land and plots for sale columns in the local newspaper’s advertisement pages, online marketplaces, real estate websites or word of mouth.

Other places where land is advertised include the local radio and television stations, advertisement boards in shopping malls and other public places and many other avenues.

Land for sale in Kasarani, Ruiru, Bypass, Juja, Ruai etc.

Search the land details at the lands registry

Once the future land owners identify the land that meets their requirements or preferences, they should ask for the title deed from the seller. This helps then to search the registered land owner in the Lands ministry. The land search takes about at most a week before one gets the results.The land search results provides details of the land. Such information includes; to whom the land has been registered to, the acreage of the land, and other caveats that are registered against the land’s title deed.

Get a clearance certificate county’s land office

It is important to also conduct a land search at the county’s land office. This is because the search would assist in unearthing any unpaid land rates that should be factored in the purchase price. The amount to the paid for this process differs from one county to the other. At City Hall, for instance, one seller pays KSh 10,000 for a clearance certificate to show that the owner has paid the land rates.

Acquire land maps

The future landowner obtains the maps from either the local surveyor or from the Ministry of Lands at a cost of about Ksh 500. It is advisable to obtain two of these maps. One of the maps is normally drawn to scale while the other map is an overview of the land and shows the adjacent plots to the desired land.

Ground verification

Having acquired the maps, the future land owner, the seller together with the surveyor, should then visit the land so as to verify the land’s dimensions. After this is completed, the future land owner should erect beacons in order to prevent any future disputes that might arise.


Land sale agreement

Future land owner are advised in the importance of appointing a lawyer who would represent him/her during the signing of the sale agreement. The seller’s lawyer is the one that mostly prepares the agreement. The agreement indicates the terms of sale which are inclusive of names of both the buyer and the seller, the mode of payment to be used, documents that the seller is supposed to supply, and the price agreed. At this point, most sellers in Kenya would ask a buyer to part with10% as a deposit. However, buyers are advised not to pay anything until they have received clearance from the Land Control Board.

Clearance from the Land Control Board

The Land Control Board (LCB) is a forum that is comprised of the county commissioner and the elders.  This is usually applicable to the freehold land such as in those located in agricultural land areas.The duty of LCB is to make sure that all land transactions are conducted in a manner that is clear and transparent.

For leasehold land, such as in the town centers, you will need to obtain a consent from the land office.

Transfer land to your name

The buyer should proceed and change the ownership of the land once he has already made payments and the seller has inked all the land transfer forms. To change the ownership, the buyer goes to the ministry of lands armed with; clearance from the county, consent from the LCB, three passport photos, land search, the old title deed, KRA pin certificate, and the sale agreement. The ministry would take two weeks to complete transferring the title deed, and the buyer would be required to pay KSH5000.

Stamp duty

A land buyer is expected to request the government to conduct a valuation of his/her new land by use of valuation forms which are filled by the seller. Using these documents, the Lands Officer would be able to compute the stamp duty payable.

Key points when purchasing land in Kenya

  • The buyer should ensure that he/she has certified surveyors from Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors of Kenya.
  • The buyer should try as much as possible to avoid dealing with brokers but instead deal with the actual land owner.
  • In any land purchase process, it is important for a buyer to note that they do not have to bribe anyone. It is, however, true that corrupt entities exist in both private as well as government sectors and that they would demand some form of bribe. A buyer can, however, refuse to pay any bribe and write a complaint to the concerned authority.
  • Although buyers might wait for a longer period before they finally acquire the land, they would still be able to legally purchase the land without paying any bribe.
  • If a buyer wants to know the true charges for any service, they are advised to visit the Law Society of Kenya’s website. The website would provide a buyer with copies of advocate remuneration order. This gives all the required information.

Plots or land with a share certificate in Kenya

With many owners or land buying companies subdividing big chunks of land into smaller affordable pieces mainly for residential and commercial buildings. Even when the main land has a title deed, it may take time before the owner processes the individual deeds and most of these pieces will only have share certificates. When buying such land, people should be careful and avoid falling prey to a conman.

The transfer for such plots from one owner to another is usually done in their offices, but not in the land ministry. Even though there are so many of these plots in the urban centers such as Nairobi, it is important to know about the limitations. For a start, the banks and many other institutions do not recognize the share certificates as legal binding documents. For this reason, they land without a title deed cannot be used as a security for a bank loan.

Whether purchasing land in Kenya with or without a title deed, you should take all precautions and engage a lawyer to help you through the right steps.


1 thought on “How to Find and Buy Land in Kenya

  1. James says:

    Thank you for sharing this detailed post.

    I just have one question regarding Capital Gains Tax (CGT). This tax came into effect January 2015. Details about it are here

    CGT attracts a charge of 5% of net gain. According to KRA, CGT is to be paid by the transferor or person transferring property.

    The seller should pay CGT and share this information with the buyer as when paying stamp duty through i-Tax, the process will not be complete without a CGT reference number.

    Hence my question:

    Would it be professional or okay to deduct capital gains tax from the purchase price of land so that the buyer can pay for this charge later while settling stamp duty fees in order to avoid a situation where the seller refuses to pay for Capital Gains Tax after completing the land transaction?

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