Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Plot sizes and tenancy

Guest post by Samuel G. Njenga

If you look at a title deed, you’ll notice that the approximate area of the plot/land is normally in hectares.

1 Ha = 2.47105381 Acres = 10,000 Square Meters
1 Acre = 0.404685 Ha
1 Meter = 3.2808399 feet

Having understood the above, what is a 50 * 100? This is usually in feet. If you look at a plot that is 50*100 (exact measurements), then the same would translate to 15.24M*30.48M = 464.5sqm = 0.0464 Ha

In real life, it is very hard to find a plot whose exact measurements are 50ft by 100ft so the most important thing to look at is the area as long as the width of the plot is not too narrow for your purposes, of course you will not even be able to subdivide a strip which is 10ft by 500ft.
From the above, 100ft by 100ft should be 0.0928 Ha.

Then what is 1/8th of an acre. In terms of the area then, it must be 0.404685/8 = 0.5058 Ha.
People in Kenya loosely refer to 1/8th acre as 50*100. Of course there is a slight difference in terms of the area but not so much hence the confusion.


In Kenya, we got two types of tenancy i.e. if we are to look at it largely (absolute ownership and leases).

Absolute ownership which we normally refer to as freehold which essentially means you own the land absolutely and there is no time limit pegged on the ownership.

Leased tenancy is where you own the land for a limited time but subject to renewal of the tenancy/lease. Ordinarily, this one attracts land rent payable to ministry of land and rates payable to the municipal council. However, even freehold titles sometimes attract rates especially when located within municipalities. We got 99 year leases (most of them), and of course the infamous 999 year leases given to those British settlers. All of these will revert to 99 years.

Someday I came across a lease whose land rent is peppercorn. This means a rent that is very low or nominal and the reason they put it there is to avoid removing it entirely for legal purposes because returning the rent would be a problem. By the way, land rent is revisable. You’ll find amounts like Kshs 100 per annum which may have been set at the time of issuance of the title many years ago. Back then it could have been a lot of money but the current value is too little.

We got another form of tenancy they call sectional titles which is derived from the Leased tenancy.

Sectional titles under the Sectional Titles Act (No. 21 of 1987 confers title to owners of sectional properties such as apartments which is an offshoot of the bigger lease. In such a case, a Management Company will be formed by the head- lessor to manage the common areas such as stair cases, pavements, driveways, swimming pool, gym, club house, lifts, etc. The company will also purchase the reversionary interest from the head- lessor and hold it for the members for ease of renewal of lease when the term on head lease from the Government expires. Each lessee will be required to subscribe to the management company and should receive a share certificate for each unit owned. If they later desire to sell their apartment/ townhouse, both the lease and share certificate must be transferred to the new purchaser.

Next we shall look at the concept of change of user and controlling development.

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