Kenya adopted a National Land Policy in 2009 after over ten years of consultation and debate. It provided a blueprint for a host of land reforms in the country, many enshrined in the 2010 constitution. The Constitution delved on land and environment in chapter five. It provided that the use and management of land should be equitable, effective, productive, and sustainable. Further, the Constitution outlined principles that were to guide the latter. It is through the National land policy that the principles are to be implemented. Categorically land was classified into public, private, and community land.
Parliament was obligated with Land legislation task (Article 68). Since 2010 it has enacted several laws. Notably the Land Act (2012), the Land Registration Act (2012), the National Land Commission Act (2012), and the Community Land Act (2016), in addition to the Land Laws (Amendment) Act, 2016. Regulations came subsequently, notably in 2017 for the Land Act, the Land Registration Act, and 2018 for Community Land Act. These laws repealed and supplanted many of the previous land acts held over from the colonial government. In particular the Land Titles Act, the Registration of Titles Act, the Registration of Land Act, the Government Land Act, and the Indian Transfer of Property Act). A key relief from these new developments was that they reduced legal pluralism in the land sector.
Starting from the most recent developments, the conversion of title deeds, this review hopes to make a short note on land in Kenya. In the second week of January 2021, the Ministry of Lands & Housing announced a change in title deeds registration. After the Land Registration Act of 2012, titles issued previously under the RLA, and RTA continued to be valid. Those under the GLA and the LTA were investigated and eventually registered under the new laws.
Let’s Rewind A Little BIT!
To understand the original Acts, it’s important to understand the cadastral boundary systems and land registration system. The earliest ACT was the RDA, Registration of Documents Act which was under the Crown government. This and several other Acts (LTA 1910 & GLA 1915-) formed the deed registration system. Registration under the LTA(Land Titles Ordinance) was on the coast, the 10-mile strip. This particular land was never under the crown Land. Titles under Government land Act were either Assignment for leasehold or Conveyance for Freehold. Registries under the GLA stored every transaction on a parcel in volume. On the other hand Title registration was under the RTA Cap 281 of 1919, Registration of Titles Act and RLA Registered Land Act, Cap 300 of 1963. Enactment of Registration of Title act provided the settlers with an alternative for deed registration.
RLA,1945, land consolidations, programmes had already begun in Central Kenya. It was, therefore, necessary to have a legal framework to support the process. The act applies in areas where land; is surveyed under the general boundaries (as in adjudicated areas), areas where land is fixed under Section 22 of the Act, areas being converted from the RTA to RLA under the Sectional Properties Act. The Registered Land Act (RLA) provided a complete code of land registration system in Kenya. It was the objective of the Government that this statute would eventually replace all the other Acts dealing with land registration in Kenya.The new Acts revised, consolidate and rationalize existing land laws.
A community claiming an interest in or right over community land is required by the Community Land Act to be registered. Since its a county mandate, several counties have made significant strides towards registration.Mobilizations communities is on going .