How to Deal With a Missing Green Card for Land in Kenya
By Estate Cloud - 2022-09-23 - Kenya
Suppose you plan to buy/sell a parcel of land in Kenya, one of the required procedures is to conduct a search on the title. If the search results show the green card for the parcel is missing, you should know there’s a serious problem.
This means there are no records of the property’s title in the lands registry. What do you do when the green card is missing? And no, this is not the permanent residence card issued by the US government.
The Most Important Document
A green card is a document that holds the original records of all transactions relating to a piece of land and which serves as a reference document. Without a green card, you cannot claim to be the legal owner of a property even if you are in possession of a title deed.
It is the most important document in Kenya’s land information and management system as it contains all the pertinent information with regard to any registered parcel of land. It is also the basis of issuing new titles upon transfer of ownership, recording of lease etc.
If you conduct a title search, the details on the green card should correspond with those on the title deed used to conduct the search for it to be deemed a clean title.
If you intend to buy land and on conducting a search you establish the green card is missing, you may want to take a step back until the issue is resolved. On the other hand, if you are the seller/owner you should move with speed to ensure the green card is located or reconstructed.
A green card can be missing for mainly two reasons, either when misplaced due to a flawed filing system or because of fraudulent land dealings, the latter being a more common reason even in cases where the former is cited.
Fraudsters, often in collusion with some rogue registry officials, can make the green card disappear to ensure information about a certain parcel of land is untraceable so that its true ownership is in question.
If the green card is missing due to genuine reasons like misplacement, a possibility in registries where the filing system is archaic and haphazard, then the registrar will proceed and replace green cards where there are no disputes.
In case of ownership disputes, the registrar will issue summons to all persons claiming ownership of the land to present their titles for verification to determine the legal owner.
Where a fraudulent scheme on a parcel of land is established, the matter will be referred to the Land Fraud Investigation Unit of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for investigations.
Green Card Reconstruction
The green card can be replaced through a process called green card reconstruction which is done by the land registrar in charge of the registry where the green card is domiciled.
The process varies from one registry to another but basically involves submitting an Indemnity and Affidavit sworn by the owner(s) of the land, advertising the loss of the green card in a local daily and publishing it in the Kenya Gazette by the Registrar.
If there is no objection from the public, then the registrar proceeds with the reconstruction.
You may need the services of a lawyer to help you with the procedure for reconstruction which is as follows:
- The land owner to write an Affidavit;
- The land owner to prepare a Deed of Indemnity;
- Payment of the statutory fees by banker’s cheque to the Government Printer;
- Present all the documentation to the Lands Registrar for forwarding to the Government Printer for publishing in the Kenya Gazette for the requisite 60 days;
- After the 60 days have lapsed, the registrar will proceed to reconstruct the green card and inform the National Lands Commission.
Resolving Land Issues
If the matter is taken up by the DCI for investigation, you should consider placing a caution or restriction on the land since this may take some time to complete. A restriction is an order prohibiting or restricting dealings with any particular land, lease or charge.
You should remember that even though the DCI can investigate and charge fraudsters, they cannot compel evictions. Only a court of law can revoke a fraudulently acquired title and issue orders for legal restitution.
To avoid a long and tedious court process you should prioritize out-of-court settlements with the aid of your lawyer.
This is because, in the event of a court case, the illegal occupants of the parcels may be at a legal advantage due to the law on adverse possession and status quo where the parcel has been occupied for a long time.
As far as it goes, you should be careful to avoid actions that will lead claimants into seeking court injunctions unless necessary.
Finally, idle and unattended land makes it a target for criminals to carry out fraudulent dealings. It is important that you maintain a working relationship with the parcel of land you own, which may include your working with your neighbours.