Land Control Boards
Ministry of Land
Muhammad Swazuri
National Land Commision
Sally Mahihu

Why buying, selling land is a risky affair

David knows the pain of losing land all too well. He can only talk of his late father having being a man of great wealth. The man had 200 acres to his name, but today his son holds the title to only one acre.

“My dad lost all his land mainly because of illiteracy and drinking, in his time buying and selling of land was done over a few drinks,” he says.

“His fate was sealed when he met a land surveyor to whom he gave his title deed and that was the end of it all,” he says. All the 200 acres were divided and sold. “My dad exchanged the titles with money; most of the buyers do not have written documents, just word of mouth.” He says some took more than they had been sold.

Even the one acre was not given to him by his father, but by a buyer to whom his father sold 16 acres.

David is not alone, and many have found themselves in situations they can’t get out of.

Some factors that people overlook while buying land can come back to haunt you at a later date.

Conveyancing lawyer, Sally Mahihu says that in her 30 years of legal practice, the most dramatic, sometimes tragic, situations are in respect to buying and selling of land.

She says clients demonstrate more passion and emotion in regard to buying and selling land than they demonstrate in other cases of for example child custody.

National Land Commision chairman Muhammad Swazuri says cases of land injustices did not stop with the forming of the commission.

The most common cases reported to the NLC are: land ownership being claimed by more than one person, lack of a title deed for the land one claims to own, fake titles, unclear inheritance of land and boundary disputes.

“These cases are distributed across the country but a day doesn’t pass without some counties being mentioned: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Transzoia, Machakos, Meru, Laikipia, Kwale, (and) Kilifi,” says Prof Swazuri.

“Get confirmation from the National Land Commision or the Ministry of Land and if you do not know the legal procedure get the procedure from the offices of the commission which are in every county, for you to be safe,” he advises.

“If the person is really genuine he/she should be able to go with you to the Land Control Boards) that are in the districts and they will be interrogated,” adds Swazuri.

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