Really, why should anyone pay for a land or building without first getting his or her Lawyer to conduct a search on the title to it?   I would not like to imagine the rationale.  Oh, may be, it is because you are buying from a friend or any other trusted person, but it still does not matter.   What if there has been a defect or encumbrance on the title to the land that has not been obvious to that friend or trusted person?

Here is what the courts have said regarding the need to investigate the title to any land or house before buying: "A PURCHASER WHO DOES NOT TAKE THE TROUBLE TO INVESTIGATE THE TITLE OF THE VENDOR...  WOULD HAVE HIMSELF TO BLAME”

I also think that beyond the purchase receipt, it is highly beneficial to have a DEED of Assignment, or sublease, etc prepared by a lawyer and this does not usually cost so much, at least compared to its benefits. Ensure that the Deed is duly executed by the parties to the conveyance (the rightful owner must sign). The Purchase Receipt only is really not enough.

Generally, here is a checklist of some of the issues you ought to consider in choosing a land or building to purchase:
  1. Clean title. A lawyer should conduct the search & other inquiries  on the title
  2. Location, location & location
  3. Price
  4. Size of the land
  5. Physical or structural condition of the building
  6. Is the building currently occupied by tenants? If occupied, what is the nature of the tenancies (including tenor, rents, etc) and how easily can the existing tenants be managed or ejected?
  7. What has been the compliance status on the property? Are there arrears of tenement rates or other taxes on the property?
  8. Are there arrears of utility bills (Light Bill, Water Rate, etc) on the property?
  9. What is the building to land ratio? How much of the available land has been taken up by the building? Can the land be used more profitably?

By Daniel Wajuihian
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