Did you know you could legally lose your land to a squatter?
Well, you can if you are not careful.
According to the Law of Limitation Act chapter 22, anyone squatting on a piece of land or property can petition for legal ownership of the same, if no one has come forward to claim the said land or property. If the real owner of the property does not come forward to redeem or reclaim their land or property, the person squatting on it can petition for legal ownership. This extinguishes the original owner’s claim to the property.
Now, that is a lot of legal jargon (or is it confusion?) Let’s break it down in a language we can all understand.
Let’s say you own land or property. It’s your land, fully paid for; and you cannot lose it. Well, think again! To be certain you do not lose your property, keep a close eye on it for it is possible for a tenant or trespasser to go to court and claim legal ownership of your land.
In Kenya, if a tenant or trespasser squats on your land and stakes a claim for it in court, if you don’t file a motion to dismiss the claim within 12 years, they could actually be awarded your land. This means they get to legally own your land without paying a cent!
In fact, there have been cases where people buy property but do not even visit it. This allows squatters to settle on the land. After living on the land for a few years, the squatters can lay claim to the property through a court petition. To avoid such a scenario, it is important to make sure your land or property does not have squatters on it. This is why there are so many incidences of forcible eviction of squatters from other people’s land.
To avoid waking up to the rude surprise of a squatter laying legal claim to your property, frequently inspect it and evict anyone that could be squatting on it. Never leave your property un-inspected for a long duration.