Owning Land in The City Might Be Among 1,000 Ways to Die
Owning land in the city is often seen as a sign of success and prosperity. However, it can also be a dangerous and expensive proposition. With an average plot going for KSh 20,000,000, it is a lucrative deal but also risky. One of the biggest dangers of owning land in the city is the risk of land disputes.
Land disputes can arise for a variety of reasons, such as boundary disputes, inheritance disputes, and disputes over ownership. Land disputes can be complex and time-consuming to resolve. They can often lead to disruption, violence and bloodshed as has been the case these last few days in Kenya.
In the heart of Machakos County’s Mavoko area, an extended legal battle has set off a series of demolitions. This has in turn plunged the community into distress. The Aimi Ma Lukenya Society’s legal pursuit against the East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) concerning an extensive 1,740-acre parcel culminated in a defeat, a verdict delivered due to a procedural technicality by Environment and Land Court Judge Annet Nyukuri. The society’s failure to adhere to court directives further exacerbated their setback.
Following the court’s decision, bulldozers set on homes, places of worship, and educational institutions, marking a heart-wrenching ordeal. This situation underscores the stark reality faced by land buyers in urban areas. This prompts a critical examination of government intervention.
Back in 2013, Justice Isaac Lenaola, now a member of the Supreme Court, earnestly urged Parliament to enact legislation overseeing evictions, aligning them with globally acknowledged standards. He lamented the prevalent practice of forceful evictions without adequate warning or compensation, emphasizing the concrete nature of the entitlement to suitable housing, as opposed to a mere abstract goal.
He specified particular conditions to avoid evictions, including during festivals, elections, school examinations, and adverse weather conditions.
The legal framework for land buyers in Kenya has undergone a significant transformation. Prior to the 2010 Constitution, the principle of the “innocent purchaser for value” afforded a degree of protection. However, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court has established that presenting a lease or title document is insufficient; it must be the culmination of due process.
This underscores the paramount importance of thorough due diligence and a comprehensive understanding of the land’s history prior to acquisition. A compromised property renders even the most formally endorsed title legally ineffective.
Both the government and sellers bear a measure of responsibility in land transactions. The government, as the guardian of official records, occupies a position of trust. The government has information originating from official channels deemed the authoritative standpoint. Sellers, too, will be held liable for damages if they knowingly profited from a dubious transaction.
A parliamentary committee on land, chaired by former Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi, scrutinized the demolitions in Syokimau in 2011. They attributed blame to various officials, including a former commissioner of lands, and suggested restitution for victims who inadvertently constructed on restricted land, citing contracts with sellers as the basis for claims.
The plight of squatter communities further accentuates the intricacies of urban land ownership. Groups such as the Syokimau Mavoko Community Association and Kathama Welfare Association, who sought refuge in 2010, now confront a formidable ultimatum: regularize their documents within 14 days or face eviction.
In light of these events, it becomes evident that navigating urban land ownership in Kenya can be fraught with risk and you are 100% likely to get in altercations. The Aimi Ma Lukenya Society’s narrative serves as a vivid reminder of the challenges and potential pitfalls. It underscores the imperative for comprehensive legislation to safeguard the rights and investments of land buyers nationwide.
Owning land in the city can be a rewarding experience, but it is important to be aware of the risks involved it might. Land disputes, scams, and high costs are just some of the challenges that landowners may face but the final decision falls on the buyer for they know the perks that come with having land in the city even if it might contribute to an early grave.