The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning has been plagued with loss of records, destruction of records, theft, misfiling and general manipulation of land records and entries for years. In the recent years there have been initiatives by the Kenyan Government to ease the way of doing business, not only for local corporates and individuals but also for foreigners seeking to invest in different sectors in Kenya including but not limited to the real estate sector. In addition, Land is an integral part of the ‘Big 4 Agenda’ and the Vision 2030. Indeed, the Ministry is prioritizing issuance of titles to landowners, decentralisation of land management, digitisation of records as well as legal and administrative reforms in all its registries.
The County of Nairobi is the hub of most real estate transactions and is also the County with the majority of land records irregularities. Cognizant of this fact, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning embarked on a mission to regularize the Ministry records staring with land in Nairobi. To this end the Cabinet secretary lunched the the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS) better known as Ardhisasa. Ardhisasa was formally launched on in April 2021 by the President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta.
Ardhisasa is an online platform that allows citizens, other stakeholders and interested parties to interact with land information and processes. The online platform seeks to resolve the historical problems experienced by landowners and investors when undertaking transactions. The Land Registration (Electronic Transactions) Regulations, 2020 (the “Regulations”) that took effect in July 2020 allow for electronic registration of land transactions.
Ardhisasa is designed to undertake the following transaction:
- land registration - caution, charge, lease, registration of certificates of titles/lease, replacement of title, restriction, search, stamp duty and transfer;
- land administration - pay land rent, subdivision, extension of lease, change of user, consent, lease preparation, extension of user, renewal of lease;
- physical planning - approval of part development plans, planning documents requisition, certificate of compliance;
- survey and mapping - subdivision, amalgamation, new grant, re-survey, sectional property, extension of lease, change of user;
- valuation - asset valuation, government leasing, government purchase, estate administration, arbitration
- adjudication and settlement - adjudication, settlement; and
- national land commission - land allocation
Once fully functional the online platform will ease the access to land and provide a robust, stable and secure platform where transactions can take place at the click of a button.
As at now, the online platform only covers the Nairobi Registry being land in Nairobi but registered under the repealed Registered Land Act (“RLA”) i.e. properties with title numbers Nairobi/Block/………….. with the projection that with time Ardhisasa will cover all land in Kenya.
Ardhisasa though covering the Nairobi Registry does not cover land that does have geospatial data such as:
- sectional property (flats/apartments/town houses - wherein the long-term leases are registered under the mother title for the land and the reversionary interest in the land is transferred to a management company wholly owned by the owners of the units erected on the land).
- titles where ownership cannot be ascertained with certainty i.e they are double allocation or other disputes.
- Public land
To interact with the online platform, the landowner must open an individual or corporate account on the platform. To register on the platform an individual landowner will be required to input their national identity card number (serial number and ID number) casting doubt on how foreigners shall transact. In addition, one is required to input their personal email address and official mobile number for communication by the Ministry of the onetime password and to inform the account holder of the progression of any application made in the system. One will also be required to upload a current passport photograph.
For a corporate account the company will be required to upload company registration number, official company mobile number, company e-mail address and KRA pin.
Further for an individual account user, the online platform allows for one to upgrade their account to a professional account such as registered physical planners, advocates, registered quantity surveyors. For an individual to upgrade their account to a professional user the person must first and foremost have an individual account and have copies of the requisite documentation from the professional body confirming their standing with the professional. This is an important interface as it allows professional to interact with the online platform in their professional capacity and therefore offer the appropriate services to their clients.
For any transaction to take place, the landowner must upload a copy of the original title to the online platform, in the backend the Ministry will validate the application and the landowner can proceed to undertake the transaction.
Currently all transactions relating to properties in the Nairobi Registry, except those outlined above, are being processed through Ardhisasa. All other services/transactions are being offered manually.
Ardhisasa has however faced several challenges since its inception such as: the validation of titles process takes anywhere from two (2) months to complete, the completeness and validity of the data in the system, foreigners (individuals or corporate) cannot interact with the online platform until a mechanism to verify Identity information is created, each transaction requires verification and confirmation from the landowner creating a slag in the application processes, downtime in the professional bodies systems leading to the slow upgrading of individual accounts to professional accounts.
In the words of the President “The system will resolve the land problem as it will provide an updated, verified database of land records that are easily available. The system will also ensure investors and those dealing with land are not confronted with warning signs such as 'Plot not for sale', 'danger' and 'Trespassers' will be prosecuted”
Please feel free to reach out to us to assist with the opening of an account, uploading of title documents and any other service currently functional in the Ardhisasa online platform.
Article by Judy Kabubu and Christine Wambui. Judy is a Partner and heads the Banking and Finance and Real Estate practice areas while Christine is a Junior Associate in the same practice groups whose background is in commercial and corporate law specializing in Real Estate, Banking and Finance.
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