Owners of residential flats within multi-storeyed buildings have a reason to smile after Parliament passed a crucial law last week that guarantees the ownership of their houses.
The Sectional Properties Amendment Bill, 2020, which was signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday, seeks to provide for the division of buildings into units to be owned by individual buyers and common property to be owned by proprietors of the units as tenants in common.
The law will have a major impact on the real estate sector as it will allow individual apartment owners to acquire title deeds for their units, and be able to use them as collateral in acquiring bank loans.
Previously, owners of the units had no title deeds as the developer retained the original title, even after selling the units, because there was no legal mechanism to sub-divide such common properties.
In other cases, home buyers are exposed to risk of fraud after rogue developers build houses on land whose original title is held by money lending institutions.
According to Kitui South MP Rachael Nyamai who moved the Bill, its enactment into law will significantly impact the development of the real estate sector in Kenya because it gives home buyers confidence and eliminates fraud.
“This new law will catalyse the development of affordable housing as the owners of apartments will be assured of absolute ownership through the issuance of sectional titles,” said Dr Nyamai.
She said home owners will also be issued with certificates indicating their share in the common property, meaning such buildings will not be auctioned without their consent.
The MP, who chairs the National Assembly Lands Committee, explained that developers will now be required to register each of the apartment plans for all the housing units shown on the plans to correlate not just with the existing structures but also with the approved building plans.
Dr Nyamai said the apartment plans will be the basis for sectional titles and will ensure that what is registered is not a non-existent structure.
Currently, the real estate sector is prone to corruption and many Kenyans who have paid developers for acquisition of apartments, particularly through the sale of off plan units, have been conned or acquired substandard units.
“It is so easy to see an apartment being described with all the good quality features only for you to find that in real life it is a different structure not befitting an apartment,” said Dr Nyamai.
She said many Kenyans had fallen victim to fraudulent developers, leading to loss of their investments and hard earned incomes after finding that they bought houses on land that the purported owners do not even own.
The new Sectional Properties Act, 2020, repealed the Sectional Properties Act of 1987 by providing for the division of buildings into units to be owned by individual proprietors, among other elaborate provisions.
While signing the Bill into law, President Kenyatta said many prospective home owners will now have confidence investing in housing projects, including in the government’s affordable housing project.
The President said this law will enable home owners to use their sectional titles to acquire more houses or other properties and hence contribute to the achievement of the Big Four agenda.