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Law on Losing Your Land if Someone Stays on It for 12 Yrs

  • Did you know that you can legally own a registered property without having to spend a single cent? 

    According to Kenyan laws, squatters or trespassers can legally occupy your land if they stay on your property for more than 12 years uninterrupted and without the authority of the owner.

    The law is stipulated under the Limitation of Actions Act, Cap 22 of the Laws of KenyaKnown as Adverse Possession, the law defines the process of a squatter acquiring land legally.

    “Adverse Possession is a method of acquiring title to real property(land) through the actual, open, hostile, and continuous occupation of the land at the exclusion of the true, registered owner for a period of 12 years,” the law states.

    Squatters arrive at the land claimed by Mark Too's family on Saturday, November 19, 2022.

    Squatters arrive at the land claimed by Mark Too’s family on Saturday, November 19, 2022.


    However, the government has put in place conditions to be met before a squatter acquires the land;

    Uninterrupted period

    For you to claim land, you must stay on the land uninterrupted for 12 years. Interruption in this context means getting evicted by the owner of the property or the government.

    If you also voluntarily leave the property at a particular period in time during those 12 years you cannot lay claim to the land.

    Occupation must be non-consensual and non-permissive

    Before the court grants you possession of the land, you must prove that you encroached on the land without consent from the landowner.

    Open and notorious occupation

    The squatter must demonstrate that the occupation of the property for the 12 continuous years was public to the extent of showing that the possession is adverse to the registered owner.  

    In Kenya, absentee landlords have lost land to squatters who have encroached on their property and taken advantage of the Adverse Possession law.

    In 2015, squatters in Likoni Constituency who had occupied a 930-acre piece of land belonging to Evans Kamau popularly know as Waitiki were given ownership of the property by former president Uhuru Kenyatta.

    On November 22, the family of the late politician Mark Too lost a 25,000-acre land in Eldoret after the Court of Appeal ruled that Sirikwa Squatters had stayed for long in the land and were deemed, rightful owners. 

    To avoid your land being transferred to squatters, always make sure anyone residing in your property has a lease agreement even in cases where there is no tenant fee.

    Squatters put up temporary structures on Hussein Dairy land at Nguu Tatu in Kisauni on March 18, 2016.

    Squatters put up temporary structures on Hussein Dairy land at Nguu Tatu in Kisauni on March 18, 2016.


Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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