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Ultimate guide to the process of change of user for land in Kenya

Ultimate guide to the process of change of user for land in Kenya

We covered the different ways in which land is categorized in Kenya from Agricultural, industrial, residential to commercial in another blog. In case you missed it, the blog is available on Categories of Real Estate in Kenya

Whether you are seeking to change or convert use of land from agricultural land to commercial land or changing land use from residential to commercial this guide will help you understand the process of applying for a change of user in Kenya.

To learn how to change land user on Ardhisasa, use this guide on how to use ardhisasa to change land user in Nairobi.

In summary, below are the requirements for application for a change of user.

1.      Two Dully filled P.P.A 1 forms in triplicate submitted and signed by a Registered Physical Planner

2.      Planning Brief prepared by a Registered Physical Planner (signed accordingly)

3.       Ownership documents (Title Deeds)

4.       Survey plan

5.       Comprehensive Location Plan

6.       Advertisement of proposal on:

a.        Two local dailies

b.       On site

7.      Application fee receipt

8.       Latest Rates payment receipts

Professional & Statutory Costs for a change in user.

The Statutory & Professionals Costs involved for the change of user application are summarized below:

1.      Change of User Application fee (Counties charge differently depending on location or the change sought)

2.       PPA 1 form fee

3.       Newspaper Advertisements (Two daily newspapers)

4.       Professional Fee (Depends on the size of the project and the area the property is located)

The power to control land use and development in Kenya is vested in the County Governments. The owner or the legal entity of any property, who intends to develop his/her land for any purpose other than that earmarked in the approved Master Plan, will make an application, along with relevant documents, to the respective County governments’ Department of Physical Planning for consideration through a registered physical planner. Change of user from residential or single-dwelling to multi-dwelling involves the initial application and approval stage at the local authorities and the final approval and processing of the title at the Department of Lands.

It is advisable that prior to acquiring a piece of land, to know the user of the property especially for developers as the process itself can prove to be very expensive and time consuming. Most people buy agricultural property with the intention of developing it for real estate purposes without knowing its use, this can be very detrimental as one cannot be able to develop the property without a change of user approval.

Step1: Advertisement in Local dailies

Place an advertisement in at least two (2) local dailies of wide circulation giving fourteen (14) days’ notice of the intended change of user and inviting comments and/or objections, if any. Upon expiry of the notice period and subject to no adverse comments/objections, you can then submit the application at the local authorities.

Step 2: Application to Local Authorities

Prepare a planning brief by the registered physical planner which is then submitted to the governing county government physical department for approval together with payment. Application is done using Form PPA1(in triplicate) duly signed by a registered physical planner. In the application, include such plans and particulars as are necessary to indicate the purposes of the development, and in particular the proposed use and density, and the land which the applicant intends to surrender either for purposes of access or public purposes connected to the development.

The local authority to which a development application has been made is required within 30 days of receipt of the application to refer the same to the Director of Physical Planning for his comments. In addition, referral may be made to the other related government offices for comment including the Commissioner of Lands, Chief Engineer (Roads), Chief Public Health Officer and the Director of Agriculture. In considering such an application, a number of factors are considered such as a physical development of the area, the land reference and title, where applicable, defined location and size of the land, current user of the land, proposed/intended user, area zoning regulations and whether due notification has been made for the proposed development.

The local authority upon receiving comments of no objection from the said offices may issue its approval to the development application with or without conditions or may on the other hand refuse to grant its approval. The Physical Planning Act requires the local authority to communicate its decision in regard to a development application within thirty days to the applicant specifying the conditions pertaining to the approval or in the case of a refusal, the grounds for the same. The law also makes provisions for appeal incase an applicant is dissatisfied with any decision of the local authority.

Approval by the local authorities is in the prescribed form PPA 2. Upon obtaining the approval, a developer may commence construction within two (2) years from the date of the approval subject to obtaining a licence from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). In considering whether or not to grant a licence, NEMA looks at both the conditions of approval by the local authorities i.e. form PPA2 and the proposed architectural designs.

Step 3: Application to the Lands Office

The Commissioner of Lands bears the onus to approve the change of user and set the pace for its effecting into the ownership documents. At the lands office, the Commissioner of Lands receives the application and the approval form -PPA2 in a correspondence file. The work is then assigned to a lands’ officer of the level of Chief Lands Officer, on behalf of the Commissioner.

From the Commissioner’s office is sent forth a circulation letter seeking comments from the Director of Survey and Director of Physical Planning. The comments from the two directors are then brought back to the Commissioner who then sends the Chief Lands Officer to the property. The officer compiles a Ground Report. With this, the property owner is then allowed to proceed with an Official Search to ensure every detail is in the file.

The file is then circulated vertically within the Commissioner of Lands hierarchy as follows: First, to the Chief Lands Officer, secondly, the Principal Lands Officer, thirdly the Assistant Commissioner of Lands. The file is then taken for a Technical Approval Committee (TAC) where issues pertaining to the land and its change of user are discussed and ratified. Minutes of the TAC are then circulated to the Deputy Director of Survey who forwards it to the Commissioner of Lands.

If there are no objections relating or incidental to the application, the file is then sent back to the Lands Officer who handled it who then drafts the approval letter (on behalf of the Commissioner of Lands) complete with new conditions and demands to be met. Among the conditions requested include need for new deed plans and new titles which will call for the property to be resurveyed. The Survey Act (Cap.299) provides for the modalities to survey private land. Validation and approval of the change of user by the Director of Surveys signifies the call for resurvey of the property in question. In this case, the property owner is counseled to seek services of a registered surveyor to draw new deed plans for the property, which are then approved by the Director of Survey who will then commission the confirmation, erection and/or re-erection of the beacons of the new property. The survey process has 8 stages that culminate to approval by the Director of Survey where also a new land reference number is issued for the property.

With the resurvey and deed plans complete, the applicant fills up an application form to apply for new titles from the Land Registrar. The applicant then surrenders the old title(s) and the new deed plan(s) to the Registrar who then files a deed file. The registrar then proceeds to process new title(s) for the property with the new user included and the new attendant conditions.


The back-and-forth process of effecting a change of user is a long- winding and tedious process that requires much knowledge and patience. It is always important to engage professionals in this process. If you wish to obtain a change of user approval in Kenya, please do not hesitate to contact Steddy Trading Real Estate on 0722244971 or call us on 0726982982. Alternatively, you can write to us on

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