It is very imperative to understand the land titles and documents in Nigeria as a smart investor. The need for this cannot be overemphasized.
People who have downplayed the importance of this, have either lost a huge sum of money or ended up in pointless legal battles which could have been avoided if they understood the land titles covering the land and how it impacts the land.
It is critical to understand, investigate, and verify the title that comes with any property before purchasing it.
Historically, all lands belonged to the indigenous families who have lived on them, before the Land use Act 1978.
The Land Use Decree on the 28th of March, 1978 vested all lands in urban area under the control of the State Governors, to hold on behalf of the people.
As a result of this decree, the governor became charged with the responsibility of allocating land in all urban areas to individuals or organizations for residential, agricultural, commercial, and other purposes.
Fortunately Government still recognizes the ancestral owners and also puts them in view with regards to the land.
There are various types of land titles that a property might have, and thus various consequences on the property.
Before we talk about the land titles, let us look at acquisition of lands. Because we can’t talk about land title without discussing Land Acquisition.
We have two types of acquisition
- Free or Global Acquisition
- Committed Acquisition
Free or Global Acquisition is that parcel of land that belongs to the government, but the government has not shown any interest or has no plan whatsoever for the land.
This simply means that once the community does due diligence and enough paper work, they’ll be able to collect back those lands
Whereas, Committed Acquisition is one in which the government has expressed an interest in the land for urban development or industrialization projects.
This simply means that the land has been mapped out for urban projects like school construction, police stations, hospitals, rail way, bridge etc
Government will never release such lands and if you make the mistake of buying a committed land, Government will take it back when it’s ready to use it for the purpose it was mapped out for.
Two main processes for making a land under global acquisition to be free.
Excision is government releasing a large expanse of land or a parcel of land that has been under global acquisition.
When Government releases this land to the community, it now becomes an excision.
In other words, it is the process by which the government returns a parcel of land to its original owners for the purpose of residential and commercial development.
When an excised parcel of land is released and published in a government official gazette, it is referred to as having the title Gazette.
The Gazette is an official document owned by the government to inform the public that the parcel of land no longer belongs to the government, but now belongs to the community.
A land that has been published in a Gazette is safe to purchase and develop, because a valid title can be obtained.
Certificate Of Occupancy
It is a legal document issued by the Government that proves that a person owns a land in Nigeria.
This is the most common land title that most people are aware of. It’s a fantastic title. Investing in land with a Certificate of Occupancy is quite safe.
A Certificate of Occupancy is often issued by the state government and indicates that the state government has formally leased the property to the applicant for 99 years.
The advantages of having a C of O are as follows:
- A C of O identifies a person as the owner of a piece of land or property.
- It makes it illegal for the government to take someone’s land or property without compensation.
- Having a C of O boosts the value of one’s property.
- It prevents many owners from claiming a single property.
When a land with a Certificate of Occupancy is sold to a third party, the buyer must now acquire the Governor’s consent before the transaction may be considered legal in the eyes of the government.
A governor’s consent, as the name implies, refers to the governor’s approval of a transaction, such as the transfer of ownership of a parcel of land with a certificate of occupancy from one person to another.
Land Documents In Nigeria
These are very important documents to have when purchasing land in Nigeria.
Land Purchase Receipt
A land purchase receipt is a standard receipt or document that shows that payment for a certain property or piece of land has been received.
When a property is sold, the seller usually gives the buyer a receipt.
Contract Of Sales
The contract for the sale of land is a legal document that is used by parties to agree on certain terms before the transaction is completed.
This is a relevant document when any property is to be purchased. It is not a registrable instrument and must be accompanied by another document transferring ownership of the relevant property.
Deed of Assignment
In land sales transaction, a Deed of Assignment is a legal document that is used to transfer legal title or ownership of land or buildings from one party (the assignor) to another (the assignee), usually for a monetary or monetary-value fee.
It could be written by the assignor and reviewed by the assignee, or it could be the other way around.
A certified layout plan and a survey plan for your land must also be included in the Deed of assignment. It should also provide the plot number and coordinates for the plot’s primary bounds.
Other important details to include are the plot’s size, pricing, company seal, witness’s signatures, and properly initialed pages.
A survey plan is a document that accurately measures and describes the boundary of a parcel of land
Benefits of a survey plan
- It clearly marks and defines legal boundaries.
- People can readily calculate the size and shape of the property once the boundaries have been marked.
The following information must be included in a survey plan:
1. Name of the owner of the land surveyed by the surveyor
2. The Address or description of the surveyed land
3. The size of the surveyed land
4. The beacon numbers
6. Name and signature of the surveyor and the date it was drawn
7. A stamp indicating whether the land is subject to government acquisition or not.
8. A registered seal
What Is The Most Important Land Title In Nigeria
Certificate Of Occupancy is the most important land title in Nigeria. it is also the title that most people are aware of.
It’s a fantastic title. Investing in land with a Certificate of Occupancy is quite safe.
How To Proof Land Title In Nigeria
In Nigeria most people that have dealt with a lot of land issues. As a result of these land issues, it’s not surprising to see buildings or lands with warning statements like “This land is not for sale, beware of 419”.
This demonstrates how often land disputes may arise, necessitating the need to provide a warning.
This is for you, if you ever find yourself in a scenario where you need to establish that you own the land in question, especially if you don’t have a title deed or other relevant evidence.
Ways Of Proving Land Title Ownership In Nigeria:
1.Production of title documents.
2.Proof of ownership acts that span a sufficient period of time and are numerous and conclusive enough to support the conclusion that the people performing such acts are the genuine owners of the land.
3. Evidence of traditional ownership
4.By acts of possession for a long enough period of time to establish the person in possession as the owner.
5.By acts of possession of a adjoining land in such a way as would make it probable that the owner of the adjoining or adjacent land is also the owner of the land in dispute.
A man purchases an apartment for his second son but withholds the title documents
The son rented out some flats in the apartment and lived there for so many years. Nobody questioned him or challenged his ownership throughout his stay in the apartment
The father died and his first son from another woman surfaces claiming to be the owner of the apartment.
The question is can the son succeed in proving ownership of the title?
If the first son is in possession of the title documents, and was duly conferred legal ownership of the apartment, he will win against the second son, but if he does not have any title, then the second son will win by reason of long uninterrupted possession.
How To Get A Perfect Land Title In Nigeria
The registration of an interest in a property with the government is known as perfection of title in Lagos State.
When buying a property in Lagos or anywhere else in Nigeria, the buyer is required to obtain formal title and register the property with the government.
Section 22 of the land use act states that it shall not be lawful for the holder of a statutory right of occupancy granted by the Governor to alienate his right of occupancy or any part thereof by assignment, sublease etc without the prior consent of the Governor
In basic terms, even if a property has a Certificate of Occupancy, making the beneficiary the legal interest holder on the land, if he intends to resell the property, the Governor must authorize the transaction because the land is held in trust by the State Government.
Otherwise, the title that will be transmitted is not perfect, and it means that the Land Use Act of 1978 requires the final authority on landed matters which is the Government to be notified of the transaction.
Land registration in Lagos, Nigeria, entails a number of procedures and steps. A survey of the land to be registered, as well as the consent of the governor and the actual registration at the land registry, are all required.
The transfer of any property or land cannot be properly registered unless the governor’s authorization has been acquired.
Governor’s consent refers to the approval of a land transaction by the governor of a state, without which the transaction will be considered illegal in the eyes of the law and the government.
When the holder of a Certificate of Occupancy over land or any other title intends to sell or alienate the land to someone else, the governor’s consent is required in Lagos and every other state in Nigeria.
REQUIREMENTS FOR OBTAINING GOVERNOR’S CONSENT IN LAGOS
- The first step is to submit an application to the Land Services and Land Directorate’s state director in Lagos.
- The Land Form 1c, must be signed and attested to before a magistrate or maybe a notary public by all parties to the transaction.
- Three copies of a validly executed Deed of Assignment, Mortgage, and other similar documents
- Survey plan (with evidence of lodgment of red copy).
- A certified true copy of the property’s title.
- Photographs of the property with the date and time stamped on them.
- Fees for charting and endorsing must be paid.
- Four white-background passport images of the vendor.
- Both sides must pay their taxes.
- Land Service Administrative Charges
- The following documents are subsequently forwarded to the Lagos State Surveyor’s Office for charting. The process of charting entails determining the land’s purchase status. Only after the land has been successfully charted can the survey be carried out.
- When a survey of the papers submitted to the Surveyor General’s office is completed and no defects are found, a completely clean report is sent to the land bureau, along with a demand notice for payment of the fee.
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