The Role of Government in Real Estate in Kenya

by | Oct 25, 2022

The real estate industry has been on a growth trajectory for the past twenty years, and has contributed immensely to the country’s GDP. Granted, there has still been a huge housing deficit, something that has seen an increase in real estate companies keen on cashing in.

But as with every sector, there have been cases of fraudulent market players that have not completed projects as agreed. There have also been cases of clients pulling out of projects without warning, leaving developers with huge losses.

With that in mind, the government has been intervening in two ways. To begin with, it has been establishing laws concerning the real estate sector. Secondly, it has been creating bodies that enforce such laws. The below list mentions these bodies and the role they play in the real estate industry.

1. Kenya Real Estate Developers Regulatory Board

Because of increased greed in the real estate sector, this regulatory body was put in place to reign in such cases. It does this by regulating developers and ensuring that they follow the law to the latter.

Among its many functions, the board is mandated to register, license, and regulate real estate developers. What’s more, the board is mandated to deal with rogue industry players and restore investor confidence.

2. State Department for Housing and Urban Development

The functions of this state body are registration of architects, quantity surveyors, contractors, and materials suppliers. What’s more, the department is mandated to manage buildings and ensure that construction standards and codes are adhered to.

In addition, it is in charge of registering civil, building, and electromechanical contractors throughout the country.

3. Estate Agents Registration Board

Estate Agents Registration Board is the regulatory body for real estate agency practitioners in Kenya. The board is under the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning. So far, it has registered thousands of real estate agents countrywide, giving their annual certificates to provide real estate agency services in the country.

It holds regular seminars for real estate agents and invites the public to participate. It considers anyone involved in selling and renting out buildings and land as an agent who must be registered.

4. National Land Commission

The National Land Commission is an independent government body that was created majorly to deal with both administration and management issues of undocumented land in the country.

In addition to that, it’s in charge of administration of all land that is categorized as community land at the local level. It also advises the government on land registration and the issuance of title deeds. And in case of disputes, it encourages alternative ways of resolving such cases.

5. National Construction Authority

This government body accredits and registers contractors and also regulates their professional undertakings. Additionally, it maintains a register of registered contractors, the particulars of their construction firms, the class of works, and the category the firm is registered under.

The Executive Director of NCA is the registrar of contractors. The contractors are usually required to renew their practicing licenses yearly.

6. National Environment Management Authority

This body is the environmental regulatory body in the country. Before a major construction site is built, the contractors are supposed to pay the environmental assessment fee.

The fee is paid whether the buildings are residential or commercial. At the same time, NEMA usually targets rogue landlords who release waste into rivers. They have the power to declare a building uninhabitable and even order the building demolition.

7. National Physical Planning Authority

The functions of the National Physical Planning Authority are numerous and touch on the real estate sector in many ways. They inspect, and monitor all land based developments to ensure that they conform to approved laws and regulations.

And if that is not all, they facilitate orderly development, and introduce beauty to settlements thereby improving the value of property. What’s more, they deal with greedy developers and help to reduce nuisances.

8. The National Buildings Inspectorate

The National Building Inspectorate is charged with auditing buildings countrywide to ensure that they are safe for occupation.

In addition, they check whether the developers and contractors have conformed with land registration, planning, zoning, building standards, and the structural standards.

They also profile unsafe buildings for demolition and can stop the construction of buildings that they think are unsafe.

9. National and County Physical Planning Liaison Committee

These committees were established to listen and determine objections to real estate developments at the county level. They are chaired by an advocate of the high court and are supposed to render decisions within two weeks.

If the decision rendered is unsatisfactory, the complainant is allowed to appeal to the Environment and Land Court within fourteen days. This basically means that home buyers and developers need to be patient before a decision is rendered.

10. Land Control Boards

These regional boards are tasked with regulating dealings in agricultural land. They ensure that buying, selling, or releasing of such land is in accordance with the existing laws. It also specifically focuses on the traditions, customs, and the way of life of the community where the agricultural land is found.

If one is transacting land that falls under an agricultural zone, he or she first needs approval from the Land Control Board. This board also ensures that before land is transferred, all spouses are in agreement to sell the land.

The board meets once per month, but an investor can summon the body at any time as long as the necessary payment has been made.

11. Kenya Revenue Authority

Although the Kenya Revenue Authority is not directly involved in the real estate business, its input is important. For example, they must take their cut in all land transactions. What’s more, it’s a requirement by law that landlords are supposed to pay taxes. The taxes vary in terms of Monthly Rental Income (MRI Tax) and Residential Rental Income.

KRA requires that when a landlord doesn’t receive rent in a certain month, he or she should file a NIL return. Landlords that earn over fifteen million per year are supposed to pay the rental income tax.


With the above real estate regulatory bodies, the government ensures that there is no chaos in the sector. What’s more, they ensure practitioners are licensed professionals for accountability purposes.