Revoke Title? What not yet said

Revoke Title PostA lot has been said and done about grabbed public land. We know about the land allocations in Lamu and the investigations by National Land Commission (NLC). We know about the Ndung’u Report. They have said the president has no powers to revoke title. But what have they not yet told you? Here are six things you have not been told.

1 – That all titles are up for review

Yes, all, the first to the last.

It is just a matter of time before the title you hold is called for review. The Constitution we passed in 2010, required Parliament to enact legislation to enable the review of all grants or dispositions (referred to as titles) of public land to establish their propriety (correctness) or legality (validity). Parliament did this, and National Land Commission Act, 2012 (the Act) was enacted becoming effective on 2nd May, 2012. Any irregularities in the title must be corrected. Any illegally acquired title must be revoked.

In 1885 there was the scramble for Africa by the Europeans. Kenya ended up a British Empire. What followed were colonial land laws; East African (Lands) Orders in Council of 1895, 1897 and 1901. These later became Crown Lands Ordinances of 1902 and 1915 and finally Government Land Act. In these legislations, all land in Kenya was declared Crown land (Government land) and Kenyans became squatters. The first grant likely occurred in 1895. The last grant perhaps as you read this document.

2 – That only the Registrar can revoke title

It is true the president has no powers to revoke title. Neither does NLC. The Act requires NLC to review the title and if it finds the title to be unlawfully to direct the Registrar to revoke title. Only the Registrar acting under such direction can revoke title.

3 – That you can cause revocation of title on public land

Did you know that you can trigger the review of a title of public land. You simply lodge a complaint to NLC. You can do so as an individual, a community, a county government or national government. Upon receipt of a complaint, NLC must initiate the process of reviewing the title. If the title is found to be unlawful, NLC must direct the Registrar to revoke title.

4 – That no revoke title against bona fide purchaser without notice of defect

If you bought the land in good faith, your title cannot be revoked without you being informed of the defect in the title. Some wisdom may require that you either retain the land or you are compensated should revoke title be implemented.

5 – Time is running out for revoke title

The Act give NLC up to 1st of May, 2017 to review all titles. The Act allows NLC to seek extension from Parliament. Will Parliament extend this revoke title time? Only time will tell.

6 – Revoke title? The devil is in the details

So what is a grant? National Land Commission Act, 2012; Land Act, 2012 and the Land Registration Act, 2012 (the so called new land laws) do not know this term. Where I find grant defined is in the Registration of Titles Act (RTA) which has since been repealed. In trying to understand things, we normally ask what? where? when? how? Why? What is a complaint? Where, when and how do you lodge your complaint? Where, when and how would NLC review the title? How are you expected to behave? How will the Registrar behave when he or she receives revoke title directive form NLC? What is the effect of article 62, 63 and 64 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2012 that classifies land as public land, community land and private land respectively.

(This post is not intended to provide legal advise)

Stephen Omengo
Registered Valuer, Registered Estate Agent & Registered EIA Expert
Firm: Tysons Limited, Nairobi-Kenya
Personal email:

  1. This is a wonderful piece. Congratulations

  2. Maurice Macharia

    Very informative article Mr Omengo

  3. my home Uganda has alot of unanswered questions about its land laws… but i do believe its a question of time and we shall be on the same ladder.. but thanks for the post bwana Omengo

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