CONVERSION OF LAND TITLE DEEDS IN KENYA
Digitization has been a big deal in Kenya, and indeed, in the world, in the last decade. Most governments are working to move their records and services to online platforms, a move that is perceived to enhance efficiency and transparency in service delivery. It is for this reason that the Ministry of Lands seeks to digitize its records, and, in the process, convert title deeds of land owners.
Why do title deeds need to get converted?
In the previous regime, title deeds were registered under several different Acts of Parliament, including the Registered Land Act, the Registration of Titles Act, the Land Titles Act, and the Government Lands Act, which were all repealed. Under this new system, the Government seeks to centralize the registration and handling process by ensuring that all title deeds are issued under the Land Registration Act of 2012, and that they are all handled through the National Land Information Management System. Registry Index Maps will now be used as the new registration instruments, replacing deed plans.
How does conversion take place?
All the title deeds issued under the repealed Acts of Parliament will be cancelled, and owners will be issued with new title deeds. This may sound scary to some, because of the history of fraud in the land sector. However, the Ministry of Lands has assured citizens that the conversion process will not affect ownership of parcels of land.
What is the process of conversion?
The Ministry of Lands is preparing cadastral maps, which, essentially, are maps showing the extent, value and ownership of land in the country. It is also preparing conversion lists, which indicate the old and new numbers for the parcels of land, and their corresponding acreages. Once it has completed this for a certain registration unit, it will publish the maps and the lists in the Kenya Gazette and national newspapers. It will also announce the date for commencement of transactions within the registration unit, and issue notices for the replacement of titles in national newspapers and on radio stations. After this is done, it will give land owners an opportunity to lodge any complaints they may have in their respective county registries. Upon lapse of the timeframe given for lodging complaints, the old registers will be closed, and transactions will be done through the new register. Land owners can then apply for the replacement of their title deeds.
What do I need to do?
First, you will need to be on the lookout for announcements from the Ministry of Lands, both in the Kenya Gazette and through the press. After the announcement for replacement of titles is made, you will need to visit your respective county lands registry and fill out the LRA Form 97, which is the application form. You will need to attach the original copy of the title deed, and your identification documents. While this process can be done by an individual, it is advised that one relies on professionals such as conveyancing lawyers to avoid being conned or misled. After submitting these documents, you will be issued with a new title deed. The old one will be cancelled and left at the registry offices.
What if my title deed is under a charge?
If you have used your title deed as security for a loan, or if, for any other reason, your title deed is under a third party, you will need to liaise with them as you make your application. As stated above, the conversion process does not change ownership of the property. It will also not interfere with the boundaries of the property, since the Registry Index Maps will be generated from existing survey plans.
While this move is embraced by many due to the anticipated efficiency and transparency, some have reservations on it, especially because of data privacy. All eyes are now on the government, through the Ministry of Lands, to ensure that the right to privacy is protected as they embark on efficiency and transparency of government records.