Introduction Land, by law, is defined as the soil and any permanent structure affixed to it.

To adequately answer this question, it is important for one to understand that l egally, one does not own land but owns an interest in land. In addition, there a re various categories of land available for acquisition in Kenya. There are four such categories namely; Private land, Public land, Trust land and Group ranches . The methods of acquisition are outlined below: a. Private land Private land can be acquired by way of sale where person A, being the current ho lder of interest in a given piece of land sells it to person B for a given sum o f money and transfers the interest thereof to person B through the relevant lega l process. It may also be acquired by way of gift where person A may give away his/ her int erest in a given piece of land freely to person B and the transfer is taken thro ugh the relevant legal process. Another way of acquiring private land is by way of inheritance where upon person Aâ s death and in accordance to his/ her will, the interest in land that he/she held is transferred to person B through the relevant legal procedure under the Law o f Succession Act. Private land can also be acquired by way of grant .A President or Commissioner o f Lands may make a grant of interest in public land to a private citizen, and up on registration, the citizen becomes the owner, thereby the land becomes private . In addition, public auction is another way for happens where a holder of interest in private ge with a financial institution. His/ her land nd thereby the person who purchases it becomes ion and issuance of the title deed. acquisition of private land. This land is unable to settle a mortga may be sold in a public auction a the new owner upon full registrat

Finally, through compulsory acquisition of land, a government may acquire land. The criterion for this is if such acquisition is in the interest of defense, pub lic safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country plann ing. b. Public land

Under the Government Lands Act, all land that has not been allocated privately i s public land. Therefore the state holds the title to such land. Such land may b e issued by the President or Lands Commissioner to a private developer by way of grant in as long as this does not contravene public interest. The grant may eit her be freehold or leasehold. c. Trust land

Also referred to as reserve, it is land being held by the Local Authorities â on trus tâ for the local inhabitants of the area under Customary law. It can be acquired pri vately through three main stages; Land Adjudication, Land Consolidation and Land Registration. d. Group Ranches

Commonly found in the ASAL areas of Kenya where pastoralists dwell, the area suc h groups traverse in search of pasture is called a group ranch. Under the Lands (Group Representative) Act, not less than three people and not more than ten can be registered as representatives or trustees of such land. As for others with i nterest in the same land, they must become members of the group that holds it un

der Customary Law. Beyond the categories of land above seen, one may also view acquisition of an in terest in land through the lenses of the types of interest / ownership that exis t. Interest may be leasehold or freehold.

e. Freehold (absolute proprietorship) It is the highest interest one can hold as defined by scope and duration. Such a n interest is transferrable through inheritance or sale and is characterized by private land ownership. f. Leasehold (Tenancy) Leasehold means that one acquires an interest in land for a specified period of time. This means that a holder of an interest in land may allow another party to use all or part of the land for a specified period of time and for a fee. The s econd party is therefore said to have an interest of leasehold and is referred t o as a tenant while the leaser is the landlord. Such are characteristic with the city and other urban areas. Leases also include controlled leases which entail any lease of a residential house where the rent payable is not more than Ksh.2, 500 per month. g. The License This is another form of interest in land where permission is given by an owner i n interest of land to another person to enter upon the land in question and do s omething on it. However, this kind of permission passes no real interest to the licensee but only legalizes their entry. This is often used by landlords to evad e the strict provisions of the law especially under controlled tenancies under t he Rent Acts. h. The mortgage charge (Encumbrances) This type of land interest is double edged in character as it is a risk of oneâ s int erest in land while it may favor another who did not have any interest in that l and in the first place. This situation arises when an interest holder in land of fers his/her land to a financial institution as security in return for a loan. S uch can only be redeemed after successful completion of mortgage payment. i. Easements They are also termed as â classic rightsâ over another personâ s land. An example is in joining land owners where one needs to use the otherâ s land. The two must reach an a greement to allow the right of way for the needful party. The condition for an e asement is that the lands must be adjoining and be owned by two different people . j. Profits (Profits a prendre) This is a right which allows someone to get into anotherâ s land to get something fro m the land for his own benefit. This may include firewood, grass or an animal th at is naturally found there. k. Land co-operative societies This is yet another method of ownership in land interest. A group of people regi stered as a cooperative with the objective of acquiring and owning may do so und er the Cooperative Societies Act. It is a form of Conclusion Whichever way an individual is to acquire land, one must ensure that the due pro cess of the law is followed. This may include identifying the laws applicable, r unning a search to verify the rightful holder, drafting a sale agreement that ho lds all necessary details required by the law and ensuring that the transfer is fully completed in the Registrar of Lands office. References 1. Retrieve d June 20th, 2011. 2. Retrieved June 20th, 2 011. 3. Retrieved June 20th, 2011.


Handout: The Various Categories of Land in Kenya.

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