Decentralisation is a key element in the new wave of land reforms that have been introduced in sub-Saharan Africa. However, not much research has been carried out into their implementation at the local level. Consequently, reforms are described in old-fashioned terms. Through comparative case studies in Tanzania, this article unpacks implementation as a process consisting of multiple administrative layers and potential actors. It concludes that implementation is slow and uneven due to the decoupling of layers within the formal land administration. Greater attention should be directed towards the local level as a part of the land administration structure.