The applicable law in this particular instance is to be found in the RTA, the RLA and the ITPA.  Under the RTA, it is a requirement that any transfer, charge or lease and any other instrument purporting to confer an interest in land has to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of this particular Act.  That is what Section 20 sets out and it proceeds to add that any attempt to deal in land otherwise htan in the manner set out in the Act will constitute a nullity no instrument unless or duly registered shall be capable or effective to pass an interest in land or land itself unless effected by way of registration that is Section 32 there is a further requirement that any transfers of land which is subject to the provisions of the Act have to be formalised or completed through a registered instrument so apart from Sections 20 through to 25 the registration requirements are underscored.  The effect of non-registration is clear and similar to what we have already seen in the case of the law relating to registration of documents.  One cannot effectively pass an interest or any rights or title or true right in abasence of such registration.

Under the Act a number of documents which require compulsory registration are identified.  All leases for periods exceeding 12 months or all such leases  which  are for periods less than 12 months or one year but which have a right  to purchase the reversion have to be registered.  Legal Charges similarly have to be completed by way of registered instruments.  The effect of the non registration is that they are invalid and so null and void for all purposes.

The registration of title provided under the RLA is by far the most ambitious as we have previously noted the RLA itself is based on the famous Torrens Systems borrowed sometime back from Australia.  The Act sets out to create not just registration code as it were but a substantive legal code which regulates all matters pertaining to rights and interests in land under the Act.  It also provides for a conversion process which allows for titles previously registered under other statutes to be converted into RLA titles through a defined procedure in the case of such titles all one needs to do is apply all the provisions of the registration clause.  Trust lands that has not been previously registered there is the elaborate adjudication, consolidation before the title in the property is registered.  Since it seeks to supercede the other registration systems that the previous Acts were introduced, it is projected on a long term framework in the sense that those provisions will only fall due and be applied when the time comes e.g. for the other titles which may not have expired it is understood that they will remain valid and it is only at that time that the projected effect of the Act itself would actually applied.

It creates a register which is for each of the parcels of land, as we saw previously there are sections which deal with various sections, the property section that is Section A gives details such as brief description of the parcel itself and it also gives a description of its appurtenances as well as making references to registry maps for purposes of raising the parcel in questions.  Proprietorship Section Part B provides particulars that is name of the registered proprietor and also indicates the presence of any restrictions which may operate adversely to the registered proprietor’s power of disposition such as cautions of any inhibitions which restrain the exercise of such powers.  The encumbrances Section Part C outlines every encumbrance or burden which operate so as to adversely affect the interests or rights of the registered proprietors examples include mortgages, leases, charges in relation to the same property.  It should be however noted that with regards to easements, they should be entered both in the properties sections of the title to the dominant tenement as well as in the encumbrances Section of the Servient Title.

The maintenance of the register is supposed to offer at a glance the exact position or status with regard to the property, the registered title and of course that can only be effective if it is presupposed that the register will be updated from time to time as and when changes affecting the property sections for instance in the event of a subdivision resulting in splitting of titles and therefore the need register to reflect the changes and where in case of added encumbrances or additional charges.  When these take place the accuracy of the register will depend on this changes being reflected in the register.

In terms of organisation of land registries, as provided for under the Act, of course it is presupposed that there is a registry where all information regarding land would be available so that the system would be fed by existence of other original registries which are established under the Act.  All registries have registries maps or index maps which is scientifically prepared by the director of surveys in line with the provisions of the Survey Act so that coordination between that particular department and the department of land is absolutely necessary for the system to work.

For purposes of registration of instruments under the Act it should be noted that there is a pacifying that is maintained of keeping of any registered instrument registered under the Act, a presentation book is provided for and kept for purposes of recording details relating to documents including particulars as relates to time and dates of presentation.  This is necessary because priority is accorded to transactions according to how or the manner of their presentation so knowing of such details is crucial, each plot is described by reference to its serial number, the typical RLA approach would assume the combination of the district where it is located or some locality which may be settled for purposes of identifying the property. There may be a section of the district or division followed by a number so that one can tell exactly where the property is located i.e. if it is within Kiambu, you can include Githunguri followed by the parcel number.  You can know the area from which the title reference is located.  In the end one may need to have a map which can take you to the exact location.

Other than documents affecting or relating to transaction in land operating under the Act there are conditions that allow for more than what you have in the case of other statutes e.g. powers of attorney whether specific or general which entitle a person other than the registered proprietor and which specifically mention the land parcel in question can be presented for recording under the registration in question so that in the even the person so authorised to deal with the property does that there would be no questions as to his competence to undertake exercises of that nature.

Section 38 of the Act is relevant in terms of registration requirements. Instruments or documents which are required to be registered as a matter of obligation include leases and charges.  Section 38(1) is explicit that no land lease or charge shall be capable of being disposed off except in accordance with the provision of the Act and any attempt to dispose off any land or lease or charge otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the Act shall be ineffectual in terms of creating, extinguishing, varying or affecting any lease, estate, right or interest in land which is subject to the Act.  There is however an important proviso to that section specifically a provision to S. 38(2) which is to the effect that nothing in that Section shall be construed as preventing any unregistered instrument from operating as a Contract so then what we have in this specific letter of the law (whichever statute you are dealing with) does not displace any rule that not withstanding the legal defects in relation to registration requirements under the Act this should not by any means serve to defeat the rights and obligations of the parties themselves if that is what appears.  Such that merely by failing to register the transaction between you and other person, your rights are preserved by taking it from the proviso that a valid contract which creates hose rights and confers those interests would be deemed to exist.  One proceeds on the general rules of contract to demand a number of things to be performed if that is what the transaction entitles you to.  The major departure that we have in the RLA as compared to the other is that it does not believe that the general rules will be inferred and it comes out to say as much.

Section 47 provides that leases for periods exceeding two years must be registered, it is also a further requirement that leases coupled with an option to renew for a term which if added to the original term of the lease exceeds two years must similary be completed through registered instruments.  Similary a lease for the life of the lessor or the lessee whichever is the case must be registered a charge must also be effected by way of registered instruments and so is a transfer under Sections 95, 96 the same position applies in regard to easements, tenements and profits apprendere all these must be completed by away of a duly registered instrument.  The Act specifies the limits for presentation of documents for registrations which must occur within 3 months following the execution and so one must present such documents for registration within the stipul;ated time failure to which a penalty is imposed.  It is further possible to compel registration of certain instruments or any instruments that the chief land registrar may deem necessary where such instruments are compulsorily registrable.

Section 41 empowers the chief land registrar to compel registration of such instruments and failure to register a document that has been called for registration is made an offence punishable by fine.  Under the Act periodic tenancies are not registrable.


Most of the requirements are almost uniform and so the Indian ‘transfer of Property Act of 1882 has no major exceptional requirements.  Section 54 provides that any transfer of immovable property for more than 100 rupees must be completed by way of registered instrument.  Under Section 106 lease of more than 12 months must similarly be completed by way of registration.


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