Editorials

EDITORIAL: Clarify foreigner land leases

sang

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The National Land Commission (NLC) needs to issue guidelines for leases on land held by foreigners to settle increased activism and uncertainty surrounding property rights around the country.
  • Nandi Governor Stephen Sang is the latest to petition the National Assembly to have multinational tea firms cede land to local residents who he says were irregularly dispossessed of the property during the colonial years.

The National Land Commission (NLC) needs to issue guidelines for leases on land held by foreigners to settle increased activism and uncertainty surrounding property rights around the country.

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang is the latest to petition the National Assembly to have multinational tea firms cede land to local residents who he says were irregularly dispossessed of the property during the colonial years.

The assumption is that leases on these land parcels have expired, an issue that NLC needs to clarify promptly.

The 2010 Constitution bans foreigners and foreign-owned entities from owning freehold land in Kenya. They are also not allowed to own land on lease terms exceeding 99 years.

The big question is when does the maximum 99-year lease start for foreigners who previously owned land on freehold basis. And this is where the NLC needs to give direction and remove uncertainty for property owners.

Some believe that the effective date is May 2, 2012 when the Land Registration Act was enacted but the issue remains unsettled.

The notion that foreign-owned land is fair game should be discouraged.