Are you a foreigner interested in owning land in Kenya? You may be wondering about the legalities and regulations surrounding land ownership for non-Kenyans. In this article, we will explore the topic of land ownership in Kenya, specifically focusing on leasehold tenure, the difference between leasehold and freehold, and the areas where leasehold property is available. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the process and requirements for foreigners to own land in Kenya.

1. Is it Legal for Foreigners to Own Land in Kenya?

In Kenya, as long as the land or property has a leasehold tenure, foreigners can legally own land in Kenya. To put it simply: Leasehold land can be owned by anyone, including foreigners. However, it’s important to note that freehold land is restricted only to Kenyan citizens, whether naturalised or by birth.

2. Leasehold Tenure Explained

Leasehold tenure means having ownership of land for a limited period of time. When you buy a piece of land with a leasehold title or certificate, you have full ownership rights for the duration specified in the lease. Most leasehold tenures stand at 99 years or less, depending on the locality, and are renewable. At the end of the lease period, you have the option to renew it for another term as per the law.

3. The Importance of Leasehold Tenure for Economic Growth

Allowing foreigners to own land in Kenya is crucial for economic growth. Robust property rights, including the right of foreigners to own property, are a foundation of strong economies worldwide. By limiting entry and foreign direct investment, a country can hinder its economic capacity. Therefore, it is beneficial for Kenya to embrace foreign ownership of land and property.

4. Availability of Leasehold Property

Leasehold property is available in any part of Kenya. While most of the country is currently under freehold tenure, rural areas, historically used for agricultural purposes, fall under freehold tenure. However, large tracts of land have been converted to leasehold by foreign companies. For instance, companies like Del Monte operate on long-term leases from the county and national government. Additionally, it is possible to convert freehold land to leasehold for the purpose of transferring it to a foreigner.

5. Taxes and Fees for Leasehold Property

When buying leasehold property, you will need to pay a transfer tax called stamp duty to the Kenya Revenue Authority. Additionally one can convert freehold property to leasehold at an extra fee which can be handled by a licensed advocate of the hight court of Kenya. While owning the land, you will be responsible for paying rates to the county government and rents to the national government. Rates and rents are usually nominal and are subject to change based on the government’s valuation. When selling the property, you may be subjected to a capital gains tax, which is a percentage of your net profits.


Foreigners can legally own land in Kenya as long as it has a leasehold tenure. Leasehold tenure allows ownership for a limited period, typically starting at 99 years. Embracing foreign ownership of land is crucial for economic growth and attracting foreign direct investment. Leasehold property is available throughout Kenya, and taxes and fees, such as transfer tax, rates, rents, and capital gains tax, apply to leasehold property ownership. By understanding the legalities and regulations surrounding land ownership in Kenya, foreigners can confidently explore investment opportunities in the country.

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