Title Deed Replacement: If you own land in Kenya, you will soon be required to register your title deed afresh. This is because the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning is shifting the administration and management of land to a new digital system under new laws. Title deeds in Kenya will now be handled under the Land Registration Act of 2012 through the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS). Previously, the title deeds were issued and handled under the Registered Land Act (RLA), the Registration of Titles Act (RTA), the Land Titles Act (LTA), and the Government Lands Act (GLA).
If you own a parcel in Nairobi County, you will be among the first land owners in the country to be affected. Currently, the ministry of lands is in the process of converting some 5,493 parcels in Nairobi. All transactions or dealings relating to parcels within Nairobi shall from April 1, 2021 be carried out in the new registers. According to the Cabinet Secretary for Lands Farida Karoney, the current title deeds will be cancelled and new ones issued under the new legal regime. “The issuance of new title deeds shall retain the ownership, size and any other interests registered against each title,” she said.
According to the chief administrative secretary at the ministry of lands, Gideon Mung’aro, there will be no loss of ownership or registered ownership upon conversion of lands. There will also be no change in existing free hold and lease hold tenor. The ministry will prepare cadastal maps, graphical indices of parcels, and a conversion list which will show the old land reference numbers alongside the new numbers. A cadastal map is the land recording of a land’s limits and boundaries.
During the conversion process, you will be required to present an application for a new title deed to the registrar of lands using a form known as Form 97. You will attach copies of your title deed, identification documents such as your national identity card and KRA PIN number to this form. You will then submit your old title to the registrar for storage, upon which you will get a new title deed. If your title is attached to a bank loan or is held between you and a third party such as a bank or shylock, you will need to individually apply for replacement after liaising with the bank or the third party. This means that the conversion will not change the title deed’s ownership. In addition, the conversion will not have an impact on your land boundaries. “The title deed plan shall be replaced with the registry index maps which will be generated from the existing survey plans,” the ministry said. These survey maps will be unveiled to you if you choose to make a request for your case.
Derrick Kibet, a licensed surveyor in Ruiru, says that you will need to keep an eye on the Kenya Gazzette and the daily newspapers where the cadastal maps will be published. “These publications will include a notice from the ministry on when the new title deed registers shall open to the public for transactions,” he says. Kibet adds that this will give you the opportunity to present any grievances you might have pertaining to the conversion of your title deed.
Cyber security and privacy
According to Achero Mufuayia, an advocate of the High Court and a land rights and governance expert, the conversion of title deeds is one of the steps Kenya is taking to comply with the open governance program (OGP). But this may herald new challenges in land ownership privacy. “One of the aims is to make data available to the public, but with land, this sort of data is largely private and its exposure contravenes Article 31 of the constitution on privacy,” he says. Although the conversion of title deeds to a new regime is supposed to enhance efficiency and guarantee security, the process could spark a wave of cybercrimes. Achero says that the majority of people who own land could be exposed to cyber manipulation and theft because they are neither young nor tech savvy. “In the current title deeds registration regime, doing a search is a headache. We have cases of landowners bribing their way to get a simple search because the system doesn’t seem to work seamlessly. This raises doubts on how the more complicated new registration regime will work, and how reliable the database will be,” he says.
Achero singles out the conversion from the traditional filing of cases to digital case filing that is taking place at the Judiciary. “Government portals appear to be sluggish and unreliable. For example, at the judiciary, filing online is itself a problem. This means that with land being so sensitive, and with the type of emotions people attach to property, the system may not only be overwhelmed, but could be a target for cyber theft and data manipulation,” says Achero.
With the conversion of title deeds likely to set scammers on the loose, Kibet advises that you get a licensed professional to hold your hand during the application process. “The conversion process will be free. However, emotions will inevitably fly high and cons and land cartels will be on the lookout for the vulnerable, especially the elderly. Get a trusted and licensed lands practitioner to guide you if you feel too exposed and unable to apply or visit the ministry’s offices on your own,” he says.
Title Deed Replacement: The process of conversion
According to guidelines from the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, the conversion process will be as follows:
Preparation of cadastral maps together with the conversion list
Publication of the cadastral maps together with the conversion list
Tabling and consideration of complaints by landowners
Closure of old title deed registers
Commencement of transactions using the new register
Application for replacement of title deeds from the old registers
Title Deed Replacement: What to do if aggrieved
The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning has set up a complaints desk at the customer care centre which is located at the Ardhi House, along 1st Ngong Avenue in Nairobi. According to the Ministry of Lands, if you have a complaint or feel that the conversion has aggrieved you, you may take these steps:
Lodge a complaint with the registrar through the ministry’s complaints desk. You will not be charged.
You will be required to complete forms LRA 96 set out in the Second Schedule to the Land Registration (Registration Units) Order, 2017 or LRA 67 set out in the Sixth Schedule to the Land Registration (General) Regulations, 2017. You can access these forms at the complaints desk where you will be guided on how to fill them. You can also download the forms from the ministry’s website www.lands.go.ke.
You will attach a copy of your title deed, copy of your ID, copy of your KRA PIN, your contact address and phone number to the filled forms.
Your complaint will be recorded by the Registrar and assigned a case reference number for follow up.
You will then await updates on the progress of your complaint. The Registrar shall resolve your complaint within 90 days.
This feature on title deed replacement was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.