Wainaina Ireri Advocates

The Impact Of The Sectional Properties ACT 2020 (“The Act”) On Transfer Of Plots Vide Long Term Leases



Transfer of an interest in land by way of long terms leases has its legal basis in section 7 of the Land Act which provides that title to land may be acquired through long-term leases exceeding Twenty-One years created out of private land.

Section 54(5) of the Land Registration Act on the other hand empowers Land Registrars to register long-term leases and issue Certificates of Lease over Apartments, Flats, Maisonettes, Townhouses or Offices having the effect of conferring ownership if the property comprised is properly geo-referenced and approved by the statutory body responsible for the survey of the land.

In the past, the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning (the “Ministry”) has been registering long-term Leases in respect of apartments, flats, maisonettes, townhouses, and offices based on architectural drawings. With the enactment of the Sectional Properties Act 2020, the Ministry now requires that all the long-term leases to be registered based on architectural drawings be converted to be in compliance with the aforementioned section 54(5) of the Land Registration Act.

To convert the old registered long-term leases, a Land Developer in collaboration with the Lessees (Purchasers) would be required to submit the following documents to the Registrar: –

  1. the Sectional plan in respect of the units within the development prepared by a registered Surveyor;
  2. Original title in respect of the Land on which the

apartments, flats, maisonettes, townhouse or offices as the case may be are erected;

  • Original previously registered long-term leases; and
  • the Rent apportionment for the respective units.

Upon submission of the above documents, the Registrar would then close the register in respect of the submitted original title and open a new register in respect of each unit in the development. A certificate of the lease in respect of the unit whose previously registered long-term lease has been submitted would then be issued to the Lessee/Purchaser.


It is worth noting that the Act is silent with regard to vacant land/plots. A thorough analysis of the Act however indicates that transfer of vacant land/plots through long-term leases will not be affected by the operationalization of the Act. A close look at the following key clauses in Act clearly illustrate the foregoing: –

  • the Preamble of the Act sets out the general objective of the Act being;

“An Act of Parliament to provide for the division of buildings into units to be owned by individual proprietors and common property to be owned by proprietors of the units as tenants in common and to provide for the use and management of the units and common property and for connected purposes”;

The Act further defines a unit as a space that is situated within a building and described in a sectional plan by reference to floors, walls and ceilings within the building and shall include its proportionate share in the common property.

  • Section 13 of the Act provides for the types of properties whose leases ought to be converted to be in compliance with the Land Registration Act. The Act specifically lists: –

  1. Apartments
  2. Flats
  3. Maisonettes
  4. town houses and
  5. Offices

All the above forms of property involve the subdivision of a building into units owned by different proprietors and common property owned by those individual proprietors in common. Using the ejusdem generis rule of interpretation of statutes, it follows that since a Plot is not of the same kind as apartments, flats, maisonettes, townhouses, and offices, then parliament could not have intended for the same to be governed by the Act.

  • key component for registration of sectional properties is the registration of a sectional plan. The Act under section 4(4) is emphatic that the Registrar shall not register a sectional plan unless: –

  1. it describes two or more units in it; and
  2. it is presented for registration in quadruplicate.

  • some of the key definitions in the Act further confirms the foregoing: –

  1. Developer is defined as a person who, whether alone or in conjunction with another person, sells or offers for sale to the public units or proposed units that have not previously been sold to the public;
  2. a Sectional plan is defined as a geo-referenced plan of units or a part of land as the case may be prepared by a surveyor and approved by the statutory body responsible survey of land;


The above analysis clearly illustrates that vacant land/plots are not subject to the act. It is also our considered view that Houses erected on Plots and wherein the Houses are not divisible into “Units” as defined under the Act, are also not subject to the Act.

It is also worth noting that the Act did not repeal Section 7 of the Land Act and therefore it is likely that the properties that are not subject to the Act would still get registered by virtue of the said section.

NB: –

*This write-up is meant for general information only and should not be relied upon without seeking specific legal advice.

*If you have any questions regarding this write-up, please do not hesitate to contact us by E-mail at info@wainainaireri.com or Tel-0726063365.