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The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning (Lands Ministry) has been spearheading various projects for slightly over a year including: the digitisation of records, geo-referencing of land parcel boundaries, conversion of titles, and national titling amongst other institutional reforms.
We have set out below a summary of the various developments that may impact your property transactions in Kenya.
Sectional Properties Act, 2020
The Sectional Properties Act, 2020 (the SPA 2020) came into force on 28 December 2020 and repealed the Sectional Properties Act, 1987 (SPA 1987). It provides for:
No transitional provisions have been provided for in the SPA 2020 save with respect to existing registered long term leases where there is a 2 year window to regularize the existing long term leases by 28 December 2022.
Pursuant to a notice issued on 9 May 2021, the Lands Ministry notified the public that long term leases prepared on the basis of architectural plans will no longer be registered with effect from 10 May 2021.
Click here to read the notice.
No prior notice had been issued by Lands Ministry to the stakeholders or the general public of the intention to cease registration of long term leases. Further, as at the date of publication of this alert the regulations under the SPA 2020 and the practice guidelines have yet to be finalized and it is therefore unclear how the transition and registration of sectional properties will work from a practical perspective.
The import of the notice is that this will delay all: (i) property transactions in Kenya where ownership of a unit (apartment, villa, townhouse, bungalow, office space, warehouse etc.) is to be conferred by way of a long-term lease; and (ii) financing transactions where the security is a new long term lease over the said units.
We are liaising with key stakeholders and other legal practitioners with a view of engaging the Lands Ministry on the way forward.
In the meantime, we are undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the SPA and the proposed regulations and we hope to give our views on the same once we have a clearer picture of the practical issues following our engagement with the Lands Ministry.
Digitisation of Records
The Lands Ministry and the National Land Commission (NLC) have been working together to migrate all the land records in Kenya to a digital land management system.
The National Land Information Management System (NLIMS) was launched on 27 April 2021 and it is intended to be a “one-stop shop” for all land transactions. We understand that the NLIMS will gradually do away with the current manual system. The intent behind the NLIMS is to (i) give some form of comfort as to security of title since the digitized records are intended to have undergone a verification process before being captured on NLIMS; and (ii) expedite land transactions which have been known to be protracted.
The NLIMS is colloquially referred to as “Ardhisasa” and it can be accessed through https://ardhisasa.lands.go.ke.
All property owners will be required to register an account on “Ardhisasa” and link the properties they own to their account. Based on our preliminary interactions with “Ardhisasa”, property owners will be required to log in and link their properties to the platform. The details will then be verified before any dealings or transactions on the properties can be undertaken on the digital platform. As at the date we published this alert, limited to no services were available on the new platform. Furthermore, no services are available under the previous digital platform, the LIMS (eCitizen) portal (http://lims.ardhi.go.ke) as the system is currently under maintenance.
During this transitional period, we anticipate that there may be initial challenges and which may cause delays in the delivery of services. This may invariably impact the usual timelines within which some transactions may be completed.
This may affect services at the Lands Registries at Ardhi House. At the moment, we do not anticipate that other registries (Mombasa and the various County/District Registries) will be affected during this phase of the digital migration.
Validation of Titles Nairobi Block 110
The Lands Ministry had placed a moratorium restricting any dealings involving titles for Nairobi Block 110 (Thome Estate off Northern By-pass, Nairobi County) following several complaints of fraudulent land transactions.
The Lands Ministry has issued a notice that it will conduct a title/ownership verification exercise for properties in this registration section.
Any persons with properties in Block 110 are required to present their documents tat the Survey of Kenya between Monday, 24 May – Friday, 4 June 2021 between 9:00am and 3:00pm.
Click here to read the notice.
Should you have any questions on this legal alert, please do not hesitate to contact Amyn Mussa, Mona Doshi, Akash Devani or Adnan Khan.