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Owning Land as a Foreigner in Kenya. Everything You Need to Know

The growth and huge returns that the real estate market in Kenya provides have continuously attracted both local and foreign investors.

Before the promulgation of the new constitution in Kenya in 2010, foreigners were not allowed to own land in Kenya.

However, after the promulgation, foreigners can now comfortably invest and own real estate in Kenya. According to the Land Registration Act 2012, non-Kenyan citizens are allowed to own property but with few restrictions. This can either be an individual or a company.

This is provided a reliever to these foreign investors who can now tap into the growth of real estate in Kenya. Currently, foreign investors are investing in holiday homes, office complexes, commercial facilities etc.

What type of land can foreigners own in Kenya?

No Kenyan citizens can only own land on the basis of leasehold tenure. Their lease does not exceed 99 years.

This leasehold ownership leaves the government with the power to decide the type of developments and terms of lease for such properties.

Foreigners who utilise such properties for profitable economic use are allocated property and the government reserves the right to re own the property and allocate it to other people.

Various ways in which a foreigner can own land in Kenya

  1. In Person – This is where a foreigner owns land under his/her individual their name.
  2. In Trust – This is where a different person or an entity holds property for the benefit of a foreigner.
  3. As a Company – where a foreign company is allowed to own property under its own name.

Limits to property ownership by a foreigner in Kenya

Non Kenyan Citizens are not allowed to own first row beach properties and land meant for agriculture. Incase they have interests in such properties the permission is issued under a Special Gazette Notice.

How a non-Kenyan Citizen can conduct due diligence on property in Kenya

Whether you are a Kenyan Citizen or not, due diligence is an important step before investing in property. Always ensure you view the property on offer, conduct a title deed search and fill all the land ownership documents.

As a foreigner, request for a copy of the leasehold title deed and conduct a search before investing. Additionally, there are key things to keep in mind if you are a foreigner looking to buy land in Kenya, we have listed a number of them in this blog

  • Laws and Regulations

Land ownership in Kenya is governed by the Constitution, the Land Act, and other laws and regulations. It is important to be familiar with these laws and regulations before buying land.

  • Restrictions

Foreigners can buy land in Kenya, but they are not allowed to own land in certain areas, such as on the coast or near the borders. These areas are considered to be of strategic importance to Kenya’s national security.

  • Consent of Transfer

Foreigners must apply for and obtain a “consent to transfer” certificate from the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning before buying land in Kenya. This certificate confirms that the government has reviewed the proposed transaction and has no objections to it.

  • Due Diligence

Before buying land, it is important to conduct a thorough due diligence to ensure that the land is free of any liens, encumbrances, or disputes. This may involve a title search, a survey, and other investigations.

  • Purchase Process

The purchase process may involve paying a deposit, signing a sale agreement, and registering the transfer of the property at the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning.

  • Building Permits

Foreigners may also need to obtain special permits or licenses if they plan to develop the land for commercial or residential purposes. Overall, buying land in Kenya as a foreigner can be a complex process, and it is important to work with qualified professionals to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

In conclusion, you can involve a conveyancing lawyer who will help you throughout the process and help you in signing of agreements and transfer forms. A lawyer is also helpful in protecting your interests and mitigates risks.

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