Monday, December 3, 2012

The subdivision process

Guest post by Samuel G. Njenga

We shall base the info herein on a subdivision of a freehold title.

Before you subdivide any land, you must get the consent to do so from the Land Control Board. Ideally the consent is issued upon the proprietor appearing before the Board. Notice that all land transactions are controlled. However, we all know that in Kenya, we may not necessarily appear before the board, but we can get what they call ‘Special Board’. I have put it in quotes because the concept is illegal. In fact what happens is that the consent date is backdated to the last Board sitting.

I once attended that board when I wanted to sell a plot in Ruiru. Those wazees really harassed my madam and I. “Kijana, kwa nini unauza shamba na wewe ni mdogo sana?”, they asked. I told them that I have other plots and I sell plots as a business. “Wapi bibi”, one retorted. I was with my significant other so I pointed at her. “Huyu sio msichana umeokota mahali?”. I produced the marriage cert and she produced her ID. They asked her “Na wewe unakubali mzee auze shamba mkae wapi?” She said she is OK with it and that is when they accepted. I swore never to return there. The wazees are famed at dismissing would be sellers unceremoniously. By the way, the idea behind the Land Control Board is noble especially to protect families from wazees who just sell land and leave their families desolate. Back in the village it is a common problem where fellows are selling inherited land and run away with young girls to squander the money only to return once the cash is over.

Once the consent is granted, the surveyor prepares the development plan on paper. The plots and access roads are earmarked and drawn to scale. Once the planning on paper is complete, the rest is to be done on the ground i.e. placing the beacons. Of course there are requirements that guide surveying including the width of the access road, minimum sizes and others.

Ideally, the proprietor is supposed to be present when the beacons are being put on the ground. Once the beacons are in place, a mutation form is filled in triplicate. The content of the form are as below:
1.     Title number (mother title) and approximate area. (page 1)
2.     Registered proprietor instructions to the surveyor on how they wish the land to be surveyed. (page 1).
3.     Sketch or development plan which ideally should be filled by the proprietor(page 2)
4.     Field diagram and observation on site with measurements to scale. This is normally filled by a licensed surveyor.

Once the mutation is filled and the proprietor has signed the 3 copies, they are presented to the district surveyor whose role is to approve the subdivision and allocate Land Reference numbers (new numbers to the new plots). The numbers are normally allocated serially based on a particular block of land. So the District Surveyor will just check from their records the last number issued for that particular block and allocate the new plots the numbers that follow.
The District surveyor then forwards a copy of the mutation to the registrar confirming that the survey work has been carried out and therefore the registrar can issue title deeds based on the LR Numbers already allocated by the DS. The DS also forwards a copy of mutation to survey of Kenya for purposes of amending the RIM (Registry Index Map).

Once the registrar receives the mutation, they open a green card for each of the new titles, issue a title for each of the new plots and then file the green-cards in the respective binders. The Proprietor then receives the new titles.

The Process gets is far more complex and trickier and expensive when subdividing leased land.

By the way, when someone tell you that they have subdivided their land and all they are showing you are beacons on the ground, 'ati titles ziko njiani,' please take note that they may just have done the easiest part of the process.
What is astounding is how land buying and selling companies take forever to process titles and ordinarily it is a process that takes 4-6 weeks. Land buyers need to be more careful and insist on buying land whose titles are ready.

Next lesson we will try and explain the sizes of plots. Someone once asked me what 1/8th acre is? Is it 50 by 100? What is this hectare thing? We can also look at land tenancy

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