How to Conduct an Online Land Search in Kenya

It is an open secret; land is a worthy investment that appreciates over time. And, if you are planning to own land in Kenya, it is only wise that you start by carrying out some due diligence. Indeed, whether you want to build a family home, property rentals, or lease out land for commercial purposes, confirm the land sale agreement details before making any cash transactions. For, you do not want to fall prey to the unscrupulous agents and land dealers flooding the property sector in Kenya. Then, how do you carry out your due diligence when buying land in Kenya? Start by conducting a land search in Kenya. Huh?

Do You Really Need To Do A Land Search in Kenya?

Land search Kenya entails counterchecking the land seller agreement details against the available database at the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning. This verification can be done manually at the respective land registries or online via an online portal provided by the government of Kenya. Hence, prospective land owners and property buyers benefit from a land search Kenya in the following ways: –

    • A prospective land owner or property buyer can trace the history of ownership of the land to the first owner. That way, they will know all its registered owners, determine whether it is in joint ownership, company ownership, or personal property, and make an informed decision on whether to purchase it or not.
    • Knowing all the current and previous land owners can help determine whether there is a pending legal dispute or if the land is clear for purchase. Likewise, the prospective buyer can gather sufficient, credible information to deal with any legal dispute that arises later.
    • Finally, a typical land search Kenya reveals specific geographical information about the land, helping buyers gauge its worth. Indeed, the plot registration numbers indicate the location of the land in question, helping you confirm its existence and desirable economic potential.
Land search Kenya
 

Manual Land Search

Now, for the longest time, existing and prospective land owners in Kenya had to do a manual land search to verify the land title details as presented by the seller. A typical manual land search Kenya entailed visiting the nearest land office in your county or sub-county to fill out and submit Form RL 26. The land search form captured the following details: –

  • Title number
  • Applicant’s full names and signature
  • Applicant’s ID number, if Kenyan (attach a copy)
  • Passport number or a foreign national registration certificate for applicants who are foreigners residing in Kenya (attach a copy)
  • Applicant’s KRA PIN (attach a copy)
  • The physical address, phone number
  • Purpose of search
  • Owner of property
  • The proposed purchaser of the property
  • Advocate/agent

The applicant had to submit the land search form in duplicate, attaching a copy of the land title in question. Also, there was a Kshs. 500 facilitation fee per application, payable via mobile money wallets, debit, and credit card deposits. 

Limitations of a Manual Land Search in Kenya

A manual land search in Kenya required the applicant to visit the land registry offices in person. Hence, anyone residing outside Kenya could not perform a land search. Likewise, the land registry offices became a hub for conmen posing as land agents and brokers, requiring a fee to assist the applicant access government services faster. These were extra charges, in addition to the Kshs. 500 facilitation fee. Besides, these fake brokers and land agents would often collude with land sellers to falsify the land details and mislead prospective buyers into paying for non-existent land.

Online Land Search

Land search Kenya

  • Digitization of Land Search Kenya

In June 2019, the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning came up with Legal Notice 101 for the Land Registration (Electronic Transactions) Regulations, 2020. It set the foundation for rolling out electronic land transactions in Kenya. And, subsequent business laws and amendments to the existing laws facilitated the electronic registration of land transactions in Kenya. Hence, following the launch of the National Land Information Management System by the president in April 2021, the government of Kenya embarked on the digitization of land records. The process aimed at: –

  • Replacing old title deeds with new ones
  • Guaranteeing security in the land records
  • Speeding up land transactions
  • Allocating settlement files efficiently
  • Curbing fraud and corruption that was now synonymous with land deals in Kenya

The digitization process minimizes human interactions in land transactions while eliminating delays and inconveniences experienced in manual registries. It paved way for the convenient, affordable, and efficient online land searches in Kenya.

  • Overview of Online Land Search in Kenya 

The government of Kenya, through its Ministry of Land and Physical Planning, and the National Land Commission operates an online portal at https://ardhisasa.lands.go.ke/. Here, Kenyan citizens, land and property stakeholders, and anyone else interested in buying land in Kenya can log in to the portal and verify the past and present owners of the said piece of land before making any cash transactions. That way, prospective land buyers can countercheck the details provided by the sellers, at the click of a button. Also, through this online portal, landowners can remit all rent payments due.

Land search Kenya

 

  • The Steps in Conducting an Online Land Search in Kenya

You Will Need:

  • Secure internet connection
  • Your KRA PIN
  • Copy of the land title deed

The Steps

  1. Go to the eCitizen portal and sign up for an eCitizen account
  2. Select the ‘Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning’ tab from the eCitizen dashboard
  3. Choose ‘Land Search’ from the Ministry of Land portal
  4. Enter the land title number as indicated on the land title deed
  5. Fill out the ensuing online land search form 
  6. Click ‘Next’ to proceed to the land search results page
  7. The land search results display the following details: –
  • History of ownership 
  • Full names of the current owner
  • Approximate size of the land
  • Details on any claim on the land (surety in a legal dispute or collateral for a bank loan)
  1. Choose ‘Print Results’ to get physical copies of the land search results
  2. The search results remain available under your eCitizen account for future reference. 

Online Land Search in Kenya FAQs

  • How much does it cost for an online land search Kenya?

The online land search application is free.

  • How long does it take to do an online land search in Kenya?

A maximum of 3 days after submitting your land search request form. On the third day after the application, the Ministry of Lands shall issue you with a stamped Certificate of Search Form RL 27 detailing the search results, which are the status of the land in question.

  • Where is the headquarters of the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning in Kenya?

Ardhi House, 1st Ngong Avenue

P.O. Box 30450-00100,

Nairobi 00100, Kenya

Phone: +254 202 718 050

Email: info@ardhi.go.ke, complaints@ardhi.go.ke, or eprocesses@ardhi.go.ke

Website: http://www.ardhi.go.ke/

  • Can I do an online land search using my eCitizen account but on behalf of another person?

Yes. Still, the results will only be available once the proprietor verifies your search request. 

  • How can I tell if my current land or property is cleared or not?

Log in to your eCitizen account and conduct an online land search Kenya. The results of the land search will confirm the land clearance status. 

  • How can I know if someone has conducted a search on my piece of land without my consent?

Note that if you own land in Kenya, the government of Kenya expects you to register your contact details with the ministry of lands. Do this by providing your full name, national ID, and the land title deed number. That way, you will get an automated notification anytime someone searches for your piece of land. 

No. Unfortunately, the online portal only accepts holders of Kenyan IDs. And, the ministry of Lands is in the process of integrating it with the Immigration department. Then, if you are an existing or potential foreign land investor in Kenya, visit the land registry office where the land is located to do a manual land search. Here, you can use your alien ID to conduct the manual land search. 

  • What about conducting an online land search Kenya for land belonging to a deceased person?

Visit or write to the relevant Registry where the land was registered to make an application for the land search. Below are the contacts for the various land registries in Kenya: –

Final Thoughts: Engage a Conveyancing Lawyer

Finally, as you plan to own land in Kenya, start the process by conducting a land search. If you are a Kenyan citizen, conduct an online land search Kenya at https://ardhisasa.lands.go.ke/. Likewise, foreigners need to visit the land registry offices and use their alien IDs to conduct a manual search. And, if it is your first time, we suggest engaging a practicing advocate throughout the process. See, conveyancing lawyers (specializing in land or property transactions) understand the land buying process in Kenya. More so, they will pinpoint areas to avoid, any bottlenecks, and recommend solutions when you encounter any challenge. Then, ask the lawyer to show you their practicing number and a copy of their license as proof that they are licensed to practice for that year.

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