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State to forcibly acquire land for housing

Kenya Housing Authority will be obligated to petition the National Land Commission for repossession of any urban land/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23 – Private parcels of land might become subject to public use for housing development if a provision for such action is finalised in the Housing Bill 2011.

The proposed Kenya Housing Authority in consultation with the County governments and National Land Commission will be given administrative power to facilitate access to land for housing, human settlements development and related infrastructure.

Minister for Housing Soita Shitanda said as a result, the Kenya Housing Authority will be obligated to petition the National Land Commission for repossession of any urban land as well as compulsory acquisition of any private land designated for public housing.

“Sometimes we want to develop a certain neighbourhood into a residential area but you find some private individuals have other ideas about their land on those areas. We will seek the intervention of the Commission of Lands to compulsorily acquire the land so the housing program can go on,” he said.

However, the minister explained that there are elements of compulsory land acquisition already in the existing law, adding that it should not cause for controversy on that basis.

The Ministry of Housing is also planning to boost low-cost housing schemes through the proposed National Housing Development Fund under the Housing Bill.

Currently, most of the housing shortage is in the low-cost housing bracket with 80 to 90 percent of lower income earners in need of housing.

The Housing Development Fund will finance basic infrastructure and planning for housing, while developing social housing with particular focus on low income housing.

Shitanda said once the Bill is passed, the Ministry will implement a mechanism to ensure developers who claim to construct low-cost housing do in fact complete their projects and allow low income earners to purchase.

The Fund will be financed by several sources including five percent of Annual Ordinary Revenue, housing bonds in the stock exchange as well as contributions by employers and employees through their housing schemes.

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“As far as this Bill is concerned it will be compulsory for employers who are not running a housing scheme to contribute but optional for employees. For those employers with schemes, they will just need to perfect them so they can capture more employees in the scheme,” Shitanda explained.

In addition the Bill will cushion mortgage providers against lending risk with the creation of mortgage insurance facilitated by the Housing Authority, Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Kenya.

The Housing Bill is expected to be finalised through Parliament by June this year.

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