Laws That could Affect Real Estate Transactions in Kenya

Special Economic Zones Act, No. 16 of 2015; This Act came into operation in December 2015. Entities licensed under this Act enjoy exemption from payment of various taxes including customs and excise duties, V.A.T, income tax and stamp duty. They also benefit from work permit quotas.

The cabinet secretary (in charge of industrialization) has the power to declare any area a special economic zone upon recommendation by the special economic zones authority and in consultation with the secretary responsible for matters of Finance.

A person who intends to carry on business as a Special Economic Zone operator/enterprise makes an application to the authority for a license to operate as such.

Bribery Act, 2016; It affects both public officers and private persons. Whereas it does not define what a bribe is, it defines the offence of giving a bribe and receiving a bribe.

Private entities can be held liable for the offence of failure to prevent bribery where a person associated with it bribes another person with the intention of obtaining or retaining business for the private entity or to gain advantage in the conduct of business for the private entity.

Upon conviction, the penalty is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding KShs. 5,000,000 or both. Where the person received a benefit or another person suffered unquantifiable loss as a result of the conduct constituting the offence, an additional mandatory fine may be imposed. If the convicted person is a director or partner, they shall be disqualified from serving in such capacity for a period not exceeding 10 years. Upon conviction, unnatural persons shall be disqualified from conducting business with the national or county government for a period of 10 years.

Community Land Act, 2016; It defines the nature of the community land title and governs ownership and rights held in community land. Under the Act, individuals may be allocated a part of community land for exclusive use subject to approval of its members. Parties can also enter into Lease agreements over land registered as community land.

Tax Procedures Act, No. 29 of 2015; This Act harmonizes the procedural rules that govern tax laws in Kenya.

Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2015; This Act amends the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2012. It widens the powers of the Financial Reporting Center to deal with money laundering in Kenya and affects reporting institutions like banks and micro finance institutions.

Land Laws (Amendment) Act No. 28 of 2016; This Act amends the Land Registration Act No. 3 of 2012 and the Land Act No. 6 of 2012. Among the key highlights is the requirement that all documents should be registered within a period of 90 days from the date of the document. It also provides for the mandatory procedures to be followed in evicting persons who have unlawfully occupied private, public or community land. The Act also reduces the threshold for issuing a Certificate of Lease from 25 years to 21 years. It also requires the Cabinet Secretary for Lands to notify holders of leasehold titles whose lease terms are due to expiring at least 5 years before expiry. Where two or more persons own property without specifying their nature, the presumption to be made is that they hold as tenants in common in equal shares.

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