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The Certificate of Occupancy in Kenya is a legal document usually issued by your local government agency or the housing/building department declaring a building’s compliance with relevant building codes and other laws, and indicating it to be in a condition suitable for human habitation. You may find a certificate of occupancy necessary when you need to sale or take a mortgage on a house as well as when you need to occupy for everyday living , when say you have done your own construction.
Procedure to obtain Certificate of Occupancy in Kenya
The procedure for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) in Kenya shown in this procedure below as the official process as described by the Republic government of Kenya.
The Applicant should purchase a form from the Land use and Administration Committee (LAC) or Obtain application form (hard copy) from the Ministry, (Land Use and Allocation Section) or any of its field offices in other districts. After filling the form submit the application pack to the Land Use Administration committe (LAC) and collect an acknowledgement slip as evidence of payment.
Complete the application form (hard copy or online) and return same accompanied with;(i) Your root of title to the subject parcel of land(ii) Your survey plan (3 copies required)(iii) Your tax clearance certificate (covering the past 3 years) or evidence of being domiciled abroad where applicable;(iv) passport photographs (3 copies required)(v) official receipt for application fees of Ksh.50.(Residential) land use) or Ksh.2,000 for (Commercial land use).(vi) Advert fees on the Kenya Observer payable directly to the Land Use and Administration committee of the Ministry, and(vii) Your cell phone contact and e-mail addresses where applicable.
The next step is to collect letter of offer of allocation after you have Advertised your application(in batches)this is made on the Kenya Observer to give room for objections (if any) to the grant of Certificate of Occupancy.If no objection is received within 21 days statutory waiting period,Your application will be processed by the relevant departments of the Ministry;
The next step is to pay for the Allocated land in the period of not less than 90 days.On payment of the prescribed fees in your Certificate of Occupancy will be prepared and forwarded to Authority of the Municipality for endorsement. Certificate of Occupancy in Kenya
- On return of your Certificate of Occupancy from the Municipality, it will be sent for stamp duties stamping.
The letter of confirmation is issued to the applicant with a plot and block Number.
The Scheme Officer will now begin to processes the application for the Certificate of Occupancy, signs off on the file and forwards the files to Executive Secretary of Land Use Administration committee. (LAC) within – 5 Days.
The Surveyor General provides Scheme Officer with digitized survey copy and this is done in – 2 Days
Executive Secretary to Land Use Administration committee (LAC) will then approves processing and signs a letter of allocation. Executive Secretary for Land Use Allocation Commission signs off on the file and sends the file to the Senior Special Assistant to His Excellency, Lands this done with – 2 Days
The Senior Special Assistant , Lands vets the entire file and sends it with a covering memo to the Permanent Secretary Lands Bureau (PS Lands) – 2 Days
- Should the file have a query, the message is relayed back by notification for correction of the query.
The Permanent Secretary Lands Bureau (PS), Lands signs off on the memo and sends the file to His Excellency with a period of – 2 Days
A new C of O is also required if the occupancy classification of a building, or portion of a building, is changed.
Any building that has been legally occupied, without a change of occupancy as defined by the building or land use codes, is assumed to have a C of O for the current use.
This review may result in a Zoning Compliance Certificate instead of a new Certificate of Occupancy.
A new C of O can only be issued following the issuance of a building permit and performance of inspections to assure compliance with the current codes governing the proposed occupancy.
The process to obtain a certificate of occupancy varies depending on the building or structure in question.
The Deputy Registrar processes the file further, signs off and sends it to Registrar of Titles for final registration -with a period of 2 Days
- The Registrar of Titles registers the Certificate of Occupancy, signs off and request for printing of Certificate of Occupancy – 1 Day
- Thereafter it is registered in the Lands Registry of the Ministry and you can then sign, and collect your Certificate of Occupancy duly signed and registered.
- It is always advisable you pay your ground rent in advance for at least one year immediately after you collect your Certificate of Occupancy.
This process adds up to a total of 21 days of processing all the required documents.Note
- Make sure your survey plan is lodged in the Ministrys Survey Archives by your registered Surveyor;
- Make sure you or your agent is available to conduct joint Inspection of your plot with an officer on the Town Planning Department of the Ministry.
- Make sure you pay up your premium and other charges are paid soon after receipt of your assessment letter.
if it is a Government land follow the following process
Applications are made to the Municipality through the Secretary, Land Use and Administration Committee, for a grant/approval of a parcel of land.
A. Obtain application form (hard copy) from the Ministry, (Land Use and Allocation Section) or any of its field offices in selected district in Kenya or download same from their website. B. Complete the application from (hard copy or online) and return same accompanied with;
- i. Your tax clearance certificate (covering the past 3 years) or evidence of being domiciled abroad where applicable;
- ii. Passport photographs (3 copies required)
- C. Your applications is considered by the LAC, who in turn will make recommendations to Municipality for his approval.
- D. If approved, plot(s) will the be allocated to you, subject to payment of the prescribed fees as will be stated in your offer letter.
- E. You will usually be required to pay these fees within a period of not more than 90 days failing which the offer will lapse and your plot will be re-allocated to some other deserving applicants(s).
- F. If you pay with in the stipulated time limit, your Certificates of Occupancy will then be prepared and forwarded for Mayors signature.
- G. Municipality , having signed it will be forwarded for stamping and subsequently registered same for owners collection.you can then sign, and collect your Certificate of Occupancy duly signed and registered.
Required Documents – Certificate of Occupancy in Kenya
- Formal Letter addressed to the Executive Secretary
- Four Passport Photographs with white background.
- Evidence of payment of Income Tax.
- Current Development Levy .
- Survey Plan
- All payment receipts of Land Charges
- Vital Information Form
Office Locations & Contacts
National Construction Authority
Physical Address : 1st Floor Hill Plaza,
Ngong Road, Community Area, Nairobi.
Direct Line : +254700021222/0701913 140/0701913723
Postal Address : P.O. Box 21046-00100,Nairobi
Website : http://www.nca.go.keMINISTRY OF LAND, HOUSING & URBAN DEVELOPMENT
1ST NGONG AVENUE
P.O. BOX 30450-00100 NAIROBI, KENYA
All agencies carrying out building activities in Kenya are eligible.
The certificate is for long term – Certificate of Occupancy in Kenya
This process adds up to a total of 21 days.
To process all instruments evidencing ownership and possession of real estate in the Country. A newly constructed building shall not be put to use before it has been inspected for compliance with the Proclamation and a certificate of occupancy has been issued. building officer may provide occupancy permit for partially completed building provided safety is ensured. To keep in custody all real estate instruments, records, and their management.
Required Information – for Certificate of Occupancy in Kenya
1. Land Information (to be obtained upon an application to the Office of the Surveyor General and payment of Ksh.2,000.
2. Application Form ;
3. Charitable Survey Plan (2 cloth, 2 paper)
4. Duly Stamped Purchase receipt;
5. Tax Clearance (evidence of payment of current tax assessment);
6. Capital Contribution (to be calculated based on the size and location of the land);
7. Four passport photographs of Applicant;
8. Publication Fee (Ksh.1,000);
9. Sketch of the Location This is a graphic description of the location of the property . .
Need for the Document
A certificate of occupancy is a document issued by a local government agency or building department certifying a building’s compliance with applicable building codes and other laws, and indicating it to be in a condition suitable for occupancy.
The purpose of obtaining a certificate of occupancy is to prove that, according to the law, the house or building is in liveable condition. Generally, such a certificate is necessary to be able to occupy the structure for everyday use, as well as to be able to sign a contract to sell the space and close on a mortgage for the space.
The architect says the best way to ensure that a building is safe is to contact the architect and engineer(s) involved in its construction and talk to them.
Citizens feel safe in or near buildings because they believe county governments ensure that developers use qualified architects, engineers and quantity surveyors throughout the construction process.
However, the average developer is not aware of the importance of these professionals, so it is the responsibility of county governments to ensure that developers use them, he asserts.
Besides, he notes, there are laws to punish both incompetent contractors and architects, adding that the problem lies in their enforcement.
The construction industry is governed by many laws, including planning laws under the Physical Planning Act (cap 286), which regulates what should be built where, how high, size of plot, etc.; the Building Code, which specifies the materials to be used and the supervision process; and the National Construction Authority (NCA), which registers all contractors and individuals involved in construction work as well as construction professionals.
Indeed, Mr David Gaitho, the vice-president of the African Association of Quantity Surveryors for Eastern Africa notes that most high-rise buildings in the country fall short of the international structural safety standards, with the exception of some in Nairobi’s Central Business District, Upper Hill, Westlands and Hurlingham.
He says buyers and tenants should insist on seeing the occupation certificate since a building certified as habitable must have an occupational certificate.
But they should confirm its authenticity by cross-checking with the lands ministy, suggests Alfred Mango, Principle Architect at Archipoint Architects.
“There are countries where structural audits must be done, and we should be thinking along these lines,” says Mr Gaitho.
Need to educate the public
But there are also genuine cases where developers, especially small-scale or informal ones, cannot differentiate between a professional architect or engineer and a technician, so the government, as well as architectural and engineering bodies, should educate the public, Mr Mango says.
Due to the high number of quacks, chances are that a developer will meet one before a genuine one, which spells doom for the project.
For instance, one of the buildings that collapsed recently was said to have cost Sh20 million. A developer who has Sh20 million can easily afford a few more hundred thousands to hire professional architects and engineers, but probably met a quack — who quoted lower fees — observes Mr Kamau.
“I have personally advised developers to use the right procedures and have succeeded in some cases, while in others I have had to watch helplessly as they bribed their way through county government planning controls and continue to put upbuildings the way they want. Luckily, these buildings are still standing but if a small tremor were to hit Nairobi, they would become instant death traps,” he says.
Mr Gaitho blames substandard buildings on contractors who take shortcuts, as well as the National Construction Authority (NCA), which has failed to enforce the construction laws.
But he adds that the government is also to blame for increasing its approval fees by more than 100 per cent following the formation of counties.
He argues that the move will automatically make many developers shun approvals due to the high fees, adding that the NCA’s levy, which is 0.5 per cent of the construction cost, should be reviewed and a limit set.
The Government, through the local/county governments, has building approval and enforcement mechanisms which, if not working, is due to inefficiency, poor funding or corruption, says Mr Kamau.
The Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS) of Kenya is legally empowered to police the industry and weed out quacks.
The laws for punishing quacks exist on paper but are rarely enforced, if ever, says Mr Kamau, adding that making offenders publicly known and a more active role by BORAQS and Architectural Association of Kenya will go a long way in educating the public on the existence of such laws.
Ideally, developers should hire a building design team comprising architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, and planners, and get approval of the architectural and structural designs by the county government, the National Environment Management Authority.
Thereafter they should appoint a registered contractor or individual (who should be confirmed by the NCA) and have the supervision done by consultants and the county government.