If you are buying a house or land, you will need the evidence to show who the rightful property owner is for the transfer ownership and to avoid losing your money to a scammer.
But how do you know if a title deed is original in Kenya? We will break down everything you need to know about title deeds and how to do a title deed search.
What is a Title Deed?
A title deed is an official, legal document which has information about the person who owns property or a piece of land. There are two types of deeds for a property. Just like you have a birth certificate to prove who you are, the property has a file that proves who owns it.
There are two types of deeds that one can use to title their property.
- Freehold Land Title: A person or organization has ownership of the property for the rest of their lives.
- Leasehold Land Title: A type of land ownership in which a property is leased from a freeholder. Owners need to pay to extend the lease which is not obvious that they will grant it.
If the land is leasehold, it will show Certificate of Lease on the title with rent and term while freehold land title will have neither rent nor term and will indicate Title Deed.
A title deed is important because it tells you who owns the property and has a description of the property. It contains:
- The name and ID number of the person who legally owns the property
- The location, boundary marks and title number of the property
- Restrictions that could stop the sale of the land like loans or court cases
How to Do a Title Deed Search
It is important to carry out your due diligence before buying land in Kenya. It will save you a lot of money that you could have lost to land scammers. And the way to do this is by carrying out a title deed search.
Once you find land to buy, you want to ask the seller to give you the title deed to carry out a land search to see the rightful owner of the land.
The Ministry of Lands with Physical Planning and other stakeholders in the government made it easier to get reliable, credible and efficient land services through an online platform called ArdhiSasa.
Other than doing a land search, you can do land registration and administration, physical planning, survey and mapping and valuation.
The land search is free on the platform and here is how it works: Create an account on the ArdhiSasa website.
- Create an account on the ArdhiSasa website.
- Register your account either as an individual or a company.
- Provide your ID, phone number, email and set a password.
- Once you are in, select “search property”.
- You will need to upload a coloured passport size photo.
- Fill in the requested information together with the title deed number.
The online system reduces fraud and other errors that would occur during the land buying process. You won’t have to walk to Ardhi House to queue to perform a land search. You can do it from anywhere you are.
Additionally, it is possible to search on behalf of someone else using an individual account. However, the property owner has to verify that they have permitted you to do the search on their behalf.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Title Deed in Kenya?
Getting a title deed means ownership transfer from one party to another. Transfer of land can either be from selling or as a gift.
Once you find the land you want to purchase, get in touch with a lawyer to help with the land transfer process and do due diligence to ensure you’re getting what you want.
How to Know if a Title Deed is Original
It’s pretty difficult to look at a document and ascertain whether it’s real or fake, especially with the number of cons out there waiting to scam people. They’ve come up with really clever ways of making a title deed look as real as possible.
The best way to know if you have a genuine title deed is by carrying out a land search as explained above.
To Sum Things Up
The title deed is the most important document you will need when buying land in Kenya. When you finally find a plot you want to buy, ask the seller for it to do a land search.
If they become hesitant to give it to you, this is the first sign of a red flag and you should think twice about buying the property. Otherwise, how are you supposed to know who owns the land if you don’t do an official land search?