Legal Alert – Reforms In The Registration Process In Lands Registries
Coming hot on the heels of the recent closure of the Central and Nairobi Registry in Ardhi House, Nairobi, the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning has announced improvements in the registration process aimed at facilitating expeditious and efficient registration of Transfers of property.
Registration of land-related transactions has usually been marred by delays, loss of records, irregularly-updated records, and wanton corruption. Globally, Kenya is ranked 134th in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, 2020 with regard to the registration of properties. The government has embarked on an ambitious agenda to improve this ranking by reducing interaction with government agencies as evidenced in the recent notice.
There have been previous attempts by the Ministry to digitize the registration process with minimal success. To some extent, the improvements notified by the Ministry have since been put in practice, namely:
- Application for Land Rent Clearance Certificate
Through the e-citizen platform, we are currently able to:
a) query outstanding land rent;
b) upload receipts for previously paid land rent for purposes of updating the Ministryâs records;
c) Make payment after which the Land Rent Clearance Certificate is automatically generated together with the payment receipt.
- Application for Commissioner’s Consents
We currently upload applications for consent on the e-citizen portal. The application has to go through an approval process at the Ministry after which we can download the Consent.
The inclusion of valuation and transfer registration among the processes that can be completed electronically is instrumental in enhancing efficiency in the registration process. The two processes contribute significantly to the delay in completing transactions. However, the ambitious notice does not address the following components of land registration:
a) The requirement to obtain land rates clearance certificates which are issued by independent government agencies and which process is not automated;
b) The need to pay stamp duty pursuant to a valuation report and prior to uploading the Transfer;
c) Transactions relating to agricultural land which require land control board consents where Boards sit once every month;
d) Whether or not registration can be completed based on an uploaded copy of a title document or whether the manual submission of completion documents will still be required.
It is noteworthy that there is a Bill set to be tabled in Parliament that seeks to remove the requirements for Consents, Land Rates, and Land Rent Clearance Certificates as prerequisites to registration. While this will improve the country’s ranking on the global platform, we do not expect that the state organs will remove these components as part of their revenue-earning streams. Hence, it is critical that property owners ensure that the same are paid up to avoid possible enforcement for recovery in the event of default.