Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, Mr. Jairus Ondiegi Photo: James Mabeya

Mr. Jairus Ondiegi, an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya in an interview at Haki FM on Thursday June 8, advised Kenyans to be extremely careful when getting involved in any conveyancing processes. Given the rise in the number of land fraud related cases it is necessary that individuals seek the right advice and use professionals with good reputations. Speaking during the Radio’s Law and Justice Show, that airs weekdays between 8a.m and 10a.m, he spelt out basic information that one should know in conveyancing.

The Constitution defines land as part of the surface of the earth and that includes all things in the air above and the surface below. A fence, trees, and any other fixture attached to a said piece of land form part of it and cannot be removed, unless the law provides for it, for instance, structures like bill boards. 

Land can belong to an individual or a community or the state. The process of transferring ownership (interests) of land from a bona fide owner to a buyer is called Conveyancing. Where land belongs to an individual, it could change ownership as per their wishes. Communal land can also be sold to a willing buyer but with the blessing of the members of that community. State owned land is held in trust for the citizens and can be allocated to individuals or a community pursuant to a legal process. This change in ownership hence rights to a piece of land is captured in a document known as a Title Deed or lease document.

Mr. Ondiegi observed that, “To have a title deed reflect the rightful ownership of land is a process that takes a substantial amount of time, it involves due diligence and this calls for the services of an expert and in this case, an advocate. Ensure to engage the services of an advocate at the moment you desire to acquire land and not after payment for it.”

He pointed out that advocates are trained in land laws, among other things, thus know which piece of land can be bought and how to go about it in a manner that conforms to the law. “It all begins with confirming the existence of the land at the Lands Registry and its measurements. You only buy a piece of land that exists and the advocate also confirms the economic and cultural use of it,” he explained.

It is advised that a piece of land is to be used for the purposes it was earmarked for. For example, it is unwise to construct residential houses on land meant for agricultural activities or vice versa. However, land use can be changed to suit the owner’s wishes but with a green light from the appropriate government’s approval.