Relevant Land Titles in Nigeria: One of the most important ways of laying claim to ownership of a property is by being in possession of the relevant land title documents which are recognized by various government statues and laws.
I wrote this article to help you identify which specific land title you are required to have and how you can get them.
The controversy over ownership of land in Nigeria knows no bounds, the issue over who has a particular property has always been the fulcrum of disputed land and property in Nigeria.
The Nigerian High Courts are mostly confronted with the task of deciding who the actual owner of a particular piece of land is and this herculean task mostly ends up in decision that favours the party that proves a better title as opposed to the actual owner.
In the event of a property tussle, court case, loan applications or business deals, presenting vital and relevant land title documents will go a long way in proving your ownership claims.
A lot of people investing in real estate do not know what the different land documents mean. As a result, they make costly mistakes.
I really hope this article gives a basic knowledge of these common land documents in Nigeria, and help avoid future unsavory events.
Relevant Land Titles in Nigeria
In order to avoid needless headaches and problems, these are the relevant title documents, and how you can access them:
This is a document that proves money was exchanged in the real estate transaction. Without this document, there is no way one can proof that money was involved. It shows that the seller acknowledges that he or she received payment for the land or property.
People often make a big mistake of thinking a deed of assignment is the same as a receipt. They are NOT the same. A receipt validates monetary payment while a deed of assignment validates ownership.
A real estate purchase that does not have receipt as evidence of transaction, becomes untraceable in times of problem. No one is wishing evil to anyone but then these things do happen, that’s why it’s best you have all relevant document regarding the purchase of a land/property.
Ask the individual, family or company you’re buying from, and it is much more preferable to begin asking before you have released funds to them.
A bank cheque or draft is still one of the best payment methods, and you should have someone witness the transactions. If you want to carry out cash transactions, ensure you are given a receipt right there and then, else, your payment would not hold water.
Deed Of Assignment
This is another very important document that must be demanded for and given to you after concluding the purchase of your property. It details the process by which ownership of land is transferred between a seller and a buyer.
It is a mutual agreement between the seller of a property and the buyer, showing evidence he has transferred all his ownership, interest, rights and title on the land to the buyer.
It spells out the date when the ownership of the property transfers from one owner to the other. The deed also gives a specific description of the property that is included in the transfer of ownership.
After the deed has been exchanged between both parties, it has to be recorded in the land registry to show legal proof that the land has exchanged hands and for the public to be aware.
A Survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. Every land must be surveyed by a certified surveyor and a survey plan submitted to the government for approval.
Upon approval of the document, there is a survey number that accompanies the survey plan which is the survey plan number. It is a unique number and can be verified. If your land is a larger parcel of land being sold, you will need to demand for the layout plan of the estate too in order to see and know how your parcel is located within the larger estate.
At times you may also want to know the development plan of the estate as to the classification of building within the estate. Some estate will not permit the mixing of different building patterns. So it is always good to ask about the plan vis-a-vis your intended plan and usage for your plot.
The people that handle survey issues are Surveyors and they are regulated by the office of the Surveyor General of the state where the land is located.
This type of document is important especially when a certificate of occupancy is not available and you need to be sure the land is not a government acquisition or on governments plan for future use. Excision properly gazetted is a document and verified from the ministry of lands will make for a good land document.
When you buy a land from a family with the excision, you will be given a form 1c which will be submitted to government to show that the land has been sold to you by the family.
Certificate Of Occupancy
A Certificate of Occupancy, popularly referred to as C of O is the most important land title document used to certify the legal and ownership status of any land in Nigeria irrespective of its usage.
It is issued by the government of the state where the land is situated. The document simply indicates that the owner of a land has been granted a statutory right of occupancy by the executive governor of the state.
A Certificate of Occupancy is always valid for a period of 99 years. What happens after 99 years?
Although this question is still a subject of debate among real estate experts, it is generally assumed that after the 99 year period elapses, the certificate would have to be renewed.
When acquiring a property, you have to take necessary steps to ensure that what you are buying is genuine. Then you have to obtain the proper land title if none existed before or perfect the title as the case may be. Obtaining the Governor’s consent to all land transactions is a means of perfecting land titles.
Even though a property has Certificate of Occupancy which makes the beneficiary the legal interest holder on the land for 99 years or the residue, if he decides to resell, mortgage or do anything with the property, since the land is held in trust by the state government, the Governor needs to approve the transaction.
In other words, the first person on a land is the only person or group of persons entitled to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. Every subsequent buyer of that land must get a Governor’s consent. There can only be one Owner of the Certificate of Occupancy on that land and it will not be replicated for another person once the land has been sold or transferred to another person.
How to Procure Your Land Title
Now you know the main title documents you need to prove your ownership of a landed property.
You are strongly advised to get all these documents in hand so you can easily avoid and get out of all and any problems regarding land ownership in the country.
The process of getting these land titles can be quite tedious and frustrating so it is very important that you secure the services of trusted professionals to carry out this process for you. They are a real estate firm in Lagos, whose integrity, discreetness and reliability in matters like this is quite commendable. Certificate Of Occupancy Is It An Indefeasible Proof Of Title?