Following the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, a great shift and overhaul in land statutes and subsequently the registration regimes in Kenya was witnessed. This required the revision of land policies and land registration regimes, that is:
- The Indian Transfer of Property Act 1882;
- The Government Lands Act (Cap.280);
- The Registration of Titles Act (Cap.281);
- The Land Titles Act(Cap.282) and
- The Registered Land Act (Cap.300).
These pieces of legislation brought with them their own respective registers that made registration of land quite difficult. This enhanced fraud and corruption in the lands registry as well as causing delays when it came to service delivery.
With the enactment of the Land Registration Act 2012, the hope of restoration of some level of sanity and cohesion in land registration processes was heralded. Practice however has not migrated to the exclusive us of the said Act and continues to ride on the saving and transitional clauses, operating as though in oblivion of the repealed statutes. The Ministry of Lands and Physical planning is thus going a step further in embarking on a process of conversion of all parcels of Land that were registered under the repealed statutes and shift to the ambit of the Land Registration Act 2012.
The Procedure of Conversion
Section 6 of the Land Registration Act 2012 as read with Paragraph 4 and 9 of the Land Registration (Registration Units) Order 2017, gives the procedure of conversion as follows:
- The office or authority responsible for land survey shall prepare cadastral maps together with a conversion list indicating the new and old numbers for parcels of land within each registration unit or registration section/block with their corresponding acreages;
- The office or authority shall ensure the accuracy and completeness of the conversion list and submit it to the Registrar.
- The Cabinet Secretary, shall within thirty (30) days of receipt of the conversion list and cadastral maps from the Registrar, publish in the Kenya Gazette and in at least two daily newspapers and the owners to make application for replacement of title documents from the closed registers. Such applications shall be accompanied by the original title documents and the registered proprietor’s identification documents. The notice shall indicate a date not more than four (4) months from the end of the publication after which the register shall be open to the public for transactions or dealings within the new registration unit.
- Any person with an interest in the land is thereafter free to lodge a complaint with the registrar, who shall then resolve the same within ninety (90) days therefrom.
- At the commencement of this process, the all registers shall be closed and all transactions carried out in the new register. All closed registers and supporting documents shall be maintained in the new registers.
- Once the application forms are received, the registrar shall retain the old title documents for record and safe custody and replace them with new title documents under the Act.
The Conversion list was then made public and published in the Kenya Gazette on 31st December 2020. Consequently, registered proprietors of land now have ninety (90) days from the issue of this notice to apply for conversion of titles and settle any queries on related parcels of property from the repealed statutes. Legally registered proprietors have until the 1st of April 2021 before the complete migration to the new regime.
The Procedure for Objections
Paragraph 5 of the Land Registration (Registration Unit) Order 2017 provides for objection to the information in the conversion list and cadastral maps. Any person with an interest in land within the registration unit and is aggrieved by the information in the conversion list or the cadastral maps may, within ninety (90) days from the date of publication;
- make a complaint, in writing, in Form LRA 96 set out in the Second Schedule, to the Registrar in respect of the information contained in the conversion list and the cadastral maps; or
- apply to the Registrar in Form LRA 67 set out in the Sixth Schedule to the Land Registration (General) Regulations 2017 for the registration of a caution pending the clarification or resolution of any complaint.
An application to the Registrar shall contain:
- the name, address and telephone number of the complaint;
- the nature of the complaint;
- the grounds for objection; and
- other particulars as may be required by the Registrar.
The Object of Conversion
The reason for this gargantuan exercise is to prohibit land registration processes in the repealed land registration statutes by cancelling and migrating by replacement of all titles under the old land registration regimes to the Land Registration Act 2012 thereby bringing all land transactions and processes in the country under one cohesive statute. Thus, all titles issued under the repealed statutes shall be cancelled and replaced with titles under the Land Registration Act 2012.
This will however not affect the ownership, size and other interests registered against the respective title. The Conversion process will require the full use of the Registry Index Maps (RIMs) as registration and thereby replacing the deed plans. With RIMs, no boundaries will be affected as the cadastral maps are generated from survey plans with fixed boundaries.
This conversion also affects title document held by third parties including banks, hospitals, courts, among others. They shall then be replaced upon an application by the legal proprietor, which infers that this can be done at a later stage even after the lapse of the deadline for conversion in the event that such titles are held as security by financial and other institutionsor in the alternative, the registered proprietor can make an arrangement with the financial institution for release of the title held as security for this purpose.