Buying A Land in Nigeria? Read This First

The devastation that comes with losing a property simply because the right land documents for the property are not in your possession cannot be overemphasized. However, gaining knowledge of the right documents will help avoid the trauma.

There are a few documentations that govern land transactions and any land buyer or prospective land buyer should know these documentations and what they mean. A recent study showed that only about 12.5% of people who buy land truly understand the title and meaning of these land documents.

The next few paragraphs will help you move from the 87.5 “novice majority percentage” and add you up the percentage of the “knowledgeable land buyers”.

Speaking of being knowledgeable on land documents, it is extremely important to understand that these title documents must be recognised by different government rules and laws on the kind of landed property being bought.

Getting any of these title documents will guarantee legitimate claim of ownership and transaction after confirmation from the fitting bodies in charge of matters concerning landed properties in Nigeria.

Now here are the basic land documents you need to know:

1. Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)
2. Deed of Lease
3. Deed of Conveyance
4. Deed of Sub-Lease
5. Land Certificate
6. Deed of Mortgage
7. Survey Plan
8. Receipt

1. Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)

It is safe to say that the C of O is one of the most important land documents in Nigeria. It is a document that certifies the legal ownership status of a land in Nigeria no matter what it is being used for. It is a document given by the State Government to lease a land in the State for a period of ninety-nine years. This is because it was previously known that “All lands belong to the Government”.

This document is given to an applicant who shows interest in a land and whose interest is in line with the applicable laws in the State. A person who intends to buy a Land in Lagos State will not get his C of O in Kano State, neither will a Kano Applicant get his C of O in Kaduna. The applicant gets his/her Certificate of Ownership from the State Government where he/she is applying for a land.

2. Deed of Lease

Originally, a Deed of Lease in Nigeria is a contract that specifies the terms of one party’s agreement to lease property owned by another party. Often times, many people think that this document is only relevant between a tenant and a landlord. However, this is also a very important legal document in the purchase of a land.

This document is also known as “Governor’s consent”. It can only be obtained when a land is bought with C of O. The Deed of Lease is a land document that proves to the Governor and the Public that the land is now in possession of a new owner. The document first came into being in the mid-70s when government property on Federal Government lands were transferred.

3. Deed of Conveyance

A Deed of Conveyance is also known as “Deed of Assignment”. It is a very important document that must be handed to a buyer after concluding land transactions between buyer and seller. If it is not handed over, the buyer must make demands for it. This is because it contains important real estate transaction information that includes the date of property ownership transfer and more specific description of the property involved.

Section 2(v) of the Conveyancing Act 1881 gives a clearer explanation of “Conveyance” as follows: “A conveyance includes any assignment, appointment, lease, settlement and other assurances and covenants to surrender made by deed of sale, mortgage, demise or settlement of any property or on any other dealing with or for any property; and convey, unless a contrary intention appears, has a meaning corresponding with that of conveyance”.

4. Deed of Sub-Lease

This is also a legal government that remains relevant to the purchase of land and other landed property. “The Deed of Sub-Lease” is a document that is signed and stamped to indicate land property transaction between a leaseholder of land who is sub-leasing his unexpired lease term to a third party.

5. Land Certificate

A Land Certificate is a document of title as regards the ownership of a piece or a very large parcel of Land. Before the promulgation of the Land Use Act of 1978, Land Certificates were issued by the Government’s Land registry for registered freehold or leasehold lands in Nigeria. Land Certificate was originally issued to owners of landed property when the Property Conveyancing Law of 1959 was still in effect.

6. Deed of Mortgage

Mortgage is known as the transfer of interest in land as security for the discharge of a debt or the performance of an obligation subject to redemption.

It provides security for loan with an undertaken for repayment and cesser upon redemption. There are two common types of mortgage transactions viz: Legal Mortgage and the Equitable Mortgage.

Legal mortgage is a type of mortgage that transfers the legal interest a person has in land, whether leasehold or freehold in consideration for loan advancement. It is often created by a deed in accordance with the covenants of the mortgage contract or by use of a statutory form which results in perfecting of the instrument by which it is created.

However, Equitable Mortgage on the other hand is a type of mortgage that transfers only an equitable interest in land or some other properties to the mortgage. It is an agreement that is created on the rules of equity. Therefore, a mere deposit of title deeds in exchange of a mortgage loan without a written agreement can be referred to as “equitable mortgage”.

7. Survey Plan

A Survey Plan is a land document that shows the boundary measurements of a parcel of land for the sole purpose of giving an accurate measurement and description of that land.

It also reveals the true ownership status in any property transaction. It generally helps to reveal whether or not such land is under any government acquired or committed lands/area.

Surveyors are known as the people who handle survey issues and they are regulated by the office of the Surveyor-General of the State where the land or landed property is situated.

8. Purchase Receipt

A Land Purchase Receipt is a document that acknowledges reception of payment for land. This document must be issued after successful payment of either part or full payment upon reception of the payment by the initial land owner.

The following details must be included in a Land Purchase Receipt:

● Full name of the seller

● Address of the seller

● Full name of the party making payment

● Address of the party making payment

● Description of the land to be sold

● Amount paid and balance (if any)

● Date of payment

● Space to append signature of buyer and seller

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