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How to avoid conmen when buying land

title deed
Once you have your title deed conduct a last search at the land’s office to confirm that the details are up to dated. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The process of buying land in Kenya is simple and straight forward. That said, increased demand for land and the analogue registration process provide cracks that conmen use to fleece buyers.

Investors have lost their money to bad deals which could be avoided had they done their due diligence. The question is; how do you go about buying land rightfully? Once you have identified the land, request for the parcel number and a copy of the proprietor's national identification card.

Conduct a land search at the land's office. The search will ascertain the real owner of the property and reveal any encumbrances on the land.

There are cases of fake results fabricated by land brokers in collusion with rogue land registry officials. To be sure, conduct at least two searches and scrutinise for any inconsistencies. For an urban plot, check for land rates payment at the county government lands office.

Once you have authenticated ownership details, verify if the parcel number matches the land you want to buy. Buy a cadastral map at the survey office and with the help of a registered surveyor physically visit the parcel.

Check the size of the plot and make sure all the beacons are in place. Pay a visit to the local chief to establish if the piece of land has any disputes.

The next step is conveyancing where two major rules apply 1) The title is as good as the process, and 2) All agreements should be in writing. Ensure that you — the buyer — the seller, and your witnesses sign a written sale agreement and all parties keep copies. When paying for the land in installments, it is advisable that the seller surrenders the title deed to the lawyer or the area chief.

In case the seller is married ensure there is consent in writing from their spouse.

Where the land is agricultural as defined in the Land Control Act, CAP 302, consent to transfer or subdivide the property must be obtained from the Land Control Board which sits monthly in all counties.

Finally, once you have your title conduct a last search at the land’s office to confirm that the details are up to dated.

JUSTUS WAMBAYI, Land Governance Expert.

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