The land problem in Kenya has many faces, one of which is the Squatter Problem. Kenya is primarily an agricultural economy. Approximately 75% of Kenya’s population is employed in the agriculture sector, hence the issue of land becomes core and delicate. The objective of the study was to investigate the factors leading to landlessness in Kenya and it paid special attention to the Rift Valley Province. Specifically, it sought to establish if landlessness in Kenya is due to outdated land laws which stem from the private land tenure, which was crafted by R. J. M. Swynerton through the Swynerton plan of 1954. A target population of 20,000 households was used for the study. Assuming a target population of 20,000 households, the study assumed a homogenous demography among all squatters. As such a sample size of 1% is deemed to be adequately representative. This gives a sample size of 200 respondents to be interviewed for response. Four districts in the rift valley with prevalent squatter problems or settlement schemes were purposively targeted for response. A uniform number of 50 respondents from each district were interviewed. These were Nakuru, Molo, Naivasha and Trans-Nzoia districts. Both secondary and primary data were reviewed for the purpose of this study. The study concluded that private land tenure is a major factor causing landlessness in Kenya. This is the bedrock on which land laws and policy are based. This is because the implementation of the plan produced claim as the principle of individual property ownership on land which became institutionalized. Based on findings, the study recommended a re-engineering of higher breed of the old African customary land law where land was owned communally and the current statutory law on land where there is individual ownership should be adopted as a way of obtaining a check on landlessness in Kenya.
Key words: Squatter, land, land tenure, colonial period, human settlement, Swynerton plan.