Different Types Of Title Deeds In Kenya And How To Do A Land Search

A land title deed is a document that proves ownership and legal right over a piece of land. It is the most fundamental document required during a land transaction and its details are usually changed from the vendor to the purchaser after a land transaction has taken place to show the transfer of ownership.

Let us explore the different types of title deeds and what you need to take during the title transfer process, how long it takes, and all the costs associated with the title deed transfer process.

When looking to invest in a piece of land, the first thing you will need to do as a buyer is to conduct an official title deed search at the local land registry. This is often done in the county office in which the land is located.

Type of Title deeds

In Kenya there existed different types of title deeds as per the different types of land Acts that have been in existence from colonial times up to the post-independence era. Include the following

  1. Indenture: a title under the Government Lands Act Cap 280 (repealed)
  2. Grant: Government grant under Registration of Titles Act Cap 281 (repealed) and a county council grant under Trust Land Act Cap 288.
  3. Certificate of title: grant issued as a result of a subdivision without change of user.
  4. Certificate of lease: title under the Registered Lands Act Cap 300 (repealed) for leasehold land.
  5. Absolute title deed: title under the Registered Lands Act Cap 300 (repealed) for freehold land.
  6. Sectional title: title for a unit within a building, for example, a flat or apartment.
  7. The Land Registration Act, 2012 consolidates the above several titles into the “Certificate of Title” or Certificate of the lease. A Certificate of title is issued for freehold land while a Certificate of the lease is for leasehold land.
  8. Leasehold:  is a form of land tenure where a lessee holds rights to land for a specific period and subject to conditions imposed on land rights by the lessor. Examples in Kenya include 33, 50, 66, 99-year government leases for urban plots. 999-year leases were all converted to 99-year leases with effect, from 1st September 2009 when the current constitution was promulgated.
  9.   Freehold land ownership:  Is a form of land tenure in which the landowner has the maximum rights to land without restrictions in terms of a period of ownership and rights exercisable on the land.


Documents required to conduct a land search include;

  1. A copy of your identification document, A copy of your KRA pin certificate, and A four-page copy of the land title deed. You will then need to fill a search request form, in most cases, this will take not more than three working days.

The importance of a search is to help ascertain:

  1. The legal owner of the land;
  2. Whether there are cautions put on the title deeds due to disputes on the land or pending court cases regarding the land;
  3. Whether there is a charge on the land, in cases where the title deed has been used as collateral for securing a credit facility/ loan with a financial institution like a bank, etc

Depending on the size and the intended use of the land, you may also be required to get a registry index map (RIM) from the Survey of Kenya offices and to have a surveyor physically ascertain that the measurement on the ground matches those on the map.

The Requirements of Land Search in Kenya

Once satisfied with the finding of an official title deed/land search, you will then need to obtain consent to transfer. In cases where you are buying from an individual, it is important to have a lawyer involved, he or she will help with obtaining and notarizing the document. This is rarely required when buying from a real estate company.

The process of transferring a land title deed from one person to the other often takes not more than 90 days. In order to do that. The following are the document required to transfer title deed in Kenya:

  1. A copy of the valuation report
  2. Obtain Consent to transfer from the commissioner of Land
  3.  Stump duty assessment form and payment proof
  4.  Rent clearance certificate
  5.  Copies of ID and KRA PIN certificates
  6. 2 copies of colored passport size photos for each party
  7.  Transfer consent from the commissioner of lands or the land control board
  8.  The title deed
  9. Land rent clearance certificate

The procedure for transferring a title deed in Kenya

The process of transferring a title deed is as follows:

  1.  the purchaser obtains a land rent clearance certificate. This is often at no cost, done at the office of the commissioner of land and takes not more than 20 days
  2. The seller then needs to apply, pay and obtain a rates clearance certificate from the county office in which the land is located. The certificate cost around Kshs 10,000.
  3. Apply for a search on the title deed which takes not more than 3 working days at a cost of Kshs 500.
  4. The seller then needs to apply for and obtain the consent to transfer from the National land commission. The document costs about Kshs 1,000 and takes not more than 2 weeks.
  5. Valuation of the land by government valuer to ascertain the amount to be paid as stamp duty.
  6. Paying the stamp duty, the amount indicated on the valuation report is then to be paid to the commissioner for Domestic taxes (KRA) and the payment receipt presented as proof.
  7. The final step of the transfer is to lodge stamped transfer documents for registration at the local land office. This process takes no more than 2 weeks.


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