How Fraudsters Deceive Kenyans into Losing Their Lands

Samples of title deeds
Samples of approved title deeds shared by the Ministry of Lands on October 2021.
Ministry of Lands

Double allocation of land by the lands Ministry is the most common method through which Kenyans lose their land, a new survey has revealed.

The National Crime Research Centre (NCRC), in Baseline Study on Land-Related Crimes and Offences in Kenya report released on Wednesday, showed that over 36.5 per cent cases reported in the past year were due to multiple allocations of land which resulted in confusion over the validity of title deeds.

Per the survey, 484 cases of double allocation were reported in the past year, followed by removal of land beacons with 418 cases, trespassing on private land (411) and forging of land documents (307).

A signpost indicating that the parcel of land is for sale.
A signpost indicating that the parcel of land is for sale.

Other ways used by fraudsters include altering land maps (292 cases), conspiracy to defraud (278), issuance of fake titles (229) and occupying and selling of land without authority (228 cases).

The report further attributes the increase in land-related cases to landowners who are not present.

"From the finding of this study, it is highly likely that the issue of absentee landlords could be in part, the opportunity to the would-be criminals of land-related crimes and offences. It is imperative that land owners be sensitized on routine inspections of their parcel of land for purposes of ascertaining the condition of ownership and also the boundaries beacons," read part of the report.

The report also cited an informant from the National Government Administration in Kisii County, who mentioned that landowners who travel abroad frequently become targets of land-related crimes.

"In this county there have been cases where land owners went abroad and the care taker poses as the land owner thus oversees fraudulent sale of the land. Influential people collude with brokers and land officials to transfer land illegally," he said.

From the findings of the survey, it also emerged that corrupt government officials (NGAOs, land officials, judiciary, ministry of land), land brokers, family members, private surveyors, corrupt advocates and some politicians formed part of the fraudsters who were frequently involved in the crimes.

Cases involving land brokers led with 41.4 per cent, followed by family members (39.7 per cent), neighbours (35. 1 per cent) and corrupt land buying company officials (21.9 per cent).

Others included land developers (12.9 per cent), political leaders (10.2 per cent and corrupt advocates (10.1 per cent).

A view of Ardhi House along Ngong Road in Nairobi.
Entrance of Ardhi House along Ngong Road in Nairobi.
Ministry of Lands
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