Losing a title deed in Kenya is not a funny affair. In fact, if somebody were to film the reaction of someone who has just discovered that his title deed is no more, the performance could make the cut for an Oscar award.
A legal instrument that presupposes proof of ownership or rights to a land, a title deed or lease is a document that most Kenyans have learnt to treasure. Some go to lengths to secure that document by for instance sealing and securely keeping it with the bank, framing and hanging it in a dark corner of the house, laminating and keeping it in a dedicated file and subsequently storing it in the furthest corner of the closet.
So serious is this effort that some men don’t tell their wives where the documents have been kept, only for the poor lady to be left searching for a needle in a haystack in case the man dies.
However, despite the best of efforts to secure it sometimes there could be unforeseen burglary or theft, destruction by fire or flood waters, or sometimes the document can be destroyed or misplaced inadvertently.
When such an incident occurs rest assured there is a remedy, but one needs to have patience since it is a somewhat long procedure. The Land Registration Act foresaw the possibility of a land owner losing their title deed and gave the Land Registrar powers to issue a duplicate certificate of title provided victims have the following documents as evidence;
1. Police Abstract
Obtained from a police station, a police abstract will be evidence that the incidence of losing the title was reported to the authorities. In some cases, the police may demand a letter from the local chief since it is assumed he has knowledge of all the land owners in his location. That works for rural areas but it’s a hard nut to crack in the town centers where majority of residents don’t know who the chief is.
An affidavit is a sworn document that the information therein is the truth and nothing but the truth so help you God. This document will obviously be sworn by the land owner. It can be done at the office of any commissioner of oaths or rotaries public.
3. Recent Official Search
In the normal course of things, an official search is done as part of measures of due diligence undertaken before buying a land parcel. This is done to ensure that the party purporting to sell the land is the bona fide owner of the land. A search is done at the Land Registrar’s office at Ardhi House or any other devolved registrar’s office. It takes about an hour or two.
4. Copies of identification documents
This is a rather straightforward requirement since it is proof that one is who he says he is. The identification documents required are a copy of national identity card (ID), a copy of Kenya Revenue Authority PIN number and recent color passport photographs.
5. Application to Registrar
Once the proprietor of the land has the above documents, the remainder is to make an application with the land registrar and fill the requisite application form. Then the above documents are attached as evidence.
Once the Land Registrar receives the application form together with the addendums and is satisfied that such is evidence of proof of ownership, he proceeds to issue a sixty day notice of loss of title in the Kenya Gazette as well as raising the same notice in two local newspapers of nationwide circulation. These notices normally appear on the classified section of the newspaper. This is to ensure that anyone who might have objections can be informed and that the objections can be addressed within the sixty days.
Once the sixty days lapse and no objections arise, the Land Registrar then issues the applicant with a certified true copy of the title or lease with the condition that should the lost title deed resurface it should be submitted to the Registrar for cancellation. That’s all folks! Have a prosperous 2019!