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December deadline gets closer for property developers

December deadline gets closer for property developers

Apartment
and sectional property developers have until December to comply with a new rule
that allows buyers of such assets to obtain individual ownership documents.

The
Sectional Properties Act, whose regulations were approved by Parliament in
December, includes a number of changes, including the ability for Kenyans who
acquired single units in apartment buildings to get
a legal ownership paper,
often known as title deeds. There was no law that allowed this before.

The
new law also allows owners of such properties to use the documents for
financial transactions, such as using them as security for loans—an incentive
for banks and financiers to offer credit facilities to individual unit owners
because they can now charge the individual units directly without the
developer’s or manager’s consent.

Furthermore,
the new law cut the leasehold period from 45 years to 21 years under the
repealed law.

Farida
Karoney, Cabinet Secretary for Lands, stated that property developers and
experts, such as surveyors and lawyers, have until December to comply.

“Due
to the short time frame, we have agreed that any new development of apartments
and sectional units must conform with the Sectional Properties Act.”

“For
developments that are finished but some of the units have been registered under
long-term leases, we are allowing you to finish registration of the rest of the
units under the old regime and then you can convert later,” Ms Karoney
told Sunday Nation in an interview.

The
CS stated that the ministry will allow transactions on properties registered
under the old regime until December as their owners transitioned to the new
rules.

“If
you want to charge your apartment and have not converted to the SPA, 2020, we
can allow you to do so with consultation with the chief land registrar based on
whatever transaction you choose to do.” The moratorium, however, expires
in December since we must all convert to the Sectional Properties Act, 2020 by
December 2022.”

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The
state launched the issuance of sectional title deeds in February, with the
Lands ministry estimating that 10,000 sectional title deeds would be issued in
Nairobi.

“We
have started with structured buildings like the NSSF-owned properties in Nyayo
Embakasi. We want to start with the apartments that are easy to do to see how
it plays out in the system. So far, we have had 10 successful transactions,” Ms
Karoney said in March.

The
new law also states that all long-term sub-lease agreements intended to confer
ownership on a maisonette, apartment, flat, townhouse, or office that were
registered prior to the new law must be reviewed to ensure that they comply
with Section 54(5) of the Land Registration Act, a provision that aids in the
transition of all buildings to sectional status and guarantees the absolute
rights of the owners of such units to deal with the same without being subject
to the power and direction of the developer.

 

On
Tuesday, the ministry met with members of the Kenya Law Society and the Kenya
Institute of Surveyors to discuss transitional concerns that have arisen for
owners and professionals dealing with sectional properties.

“A
combined team representing the ISK, LSK, and the ministry will be formed to
further address technical concerns connected to long-term leases,” the
ministry and the two organisations declared in a joint communiqué.

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