Buying and renting property

Implementing institutions for Registering Property in Kenya have a mandate to enforce and implement various aspects of the land and real property laws. They include;

  • Ministry of Lands, responsible for development of national land Policy and the new National Land Commission to take over implementation of the new land acts.
  • Lands Registry, mandated to register property in Kenya
  • Nairobi City Council, or Local Authority
  • Land Control Boards
  • Under the new Constitutions some regulatory responsibilities will shift to the County Governments

Property can be acquired on freehold or leasehold basis. A freehold title gives the owner absolute proprietorship over the land in perpetuity. While Leasehold property is held on a government lease for a specified period, usually 50 or 99 years. At the end of this period, the landowner applies for an extension of the lease, which is usually granted. The extension process takes approximately 6 months.

Both freehold and leasehold land is subject to local authority rates which is usually a fraction of the unimproved site value. However, leasehold is further subject to Land Rent, based on the size of the land.

For most properties, payment is in form of a 10% deposit and the balance within 60-90 days.  Financing for purchase of a property can be obtained from Banks, Building Societies or Mortgage Companies in Kenya. The easiest way to buy property for non-residents is to appoint a lawyer in Kenya who can act on your behalf. The lawyer will arrange to have the sale agreement signed by you and will also undertake to get the title of the property transferred into your name.

Transaction Costs (last updated: March 2012)

1. Transaction: Who Pays?

  • 4% Stamp Duty for Draft Transfer: Buyer
  • 1.5% Legal Fees: Buyer
  • Banker’s Check Charge KES 600 (US$8): Buyer
  • Registration KES 250 (US$ 3): Buyer
  • 1.25% Agent’s Commission: Seller
  • Cost Paid by Buyer: 5.51%
  • Cost Paid By Seller: 1.25%
  • Roundtrip Transaction Cost: 6,76 %

2. Restrictions on Access to Property

Non-residents can buy ‘commercial class’ land in Kenya. This type of land is for income or revenue-making purposes. Non-residents are allowed to acquire this and build on it.

‘Agricultural land’ or farm lands cannot be acquired by non-residents. ‘Agricultural land’ is usually owned by Kenyan nationals. If purchase is made through a company – the majority of which must be Kenyan-owned – then it is allowed. The land will be bought under the company’s name.

Rental Property

Sufficient property to let on short to long term basis is available at very competitive rates. This can be accessed through a number of property management companies.