Land titles are formal documents that show and outline the right of ownership on a piece of property. Apart from being used to confirm ownership of a property, Land titles help prospective buyers and landowners understand their rights and boundaries.
If a property does not have your name on its title another person can legally claim that property even if the property belongs to you but as long as you possess the relevant title documents recognized by the government then you have nothing to worry about. The office of the land registry records all legally recognized land titles.
Once you have your land titles you are at liberty to do what you please with your property, you can transfer it whenever and to whomever, you please.
The controversy over ownership of land in Nigeria is extreme even among family members, on a daily basis, people are trooping into The Nigerian High Court to settle land disputes.
To avoid this, one of the first questions you should ask before you buy land is the title on the land, you should also understand the key title documents that prove ownership of a property.
Key land titles in Nigeria In order to avoid a sour tale and endless visits to the court, these are the key documents to know and how you can access them.
1. Deed of Assignment: This is a document that shows you are the new owner of the property. It is a very important document that should not be overlooked. It is also referred to as ‘deed of conveyance ‘ which means the process of transfer of ownership. It shows evidence that the seller has transferred all ownership, right, and title on the land to the buyer. The deed of Assignment contains very important information like the date the land was transferred to a new owner and a clear description of the land.
After the exchange of the deed between both parties, it has to be recorded in the land registry to show legal proof that the land has exchanged hands.
2. Receipt: We all know how relevant a receipt is, a receipt in a real estate transaction is a document that confirms that a land seller has received the agreed amount of money from the buyer. Without this document, the seller can wake up one morning and say he was never paid the complete amount even if he was fully paid and win the case if taken to court. This document shows the amount paid and the name of the person paid to. It is often required when registering a land.
You should note that a receipt is not the same thing as a deed of assignment. While a receipt proves that money was involved in the transaction a deed of assignment proves ownership of a piece of property. Before you carry out any real estate transaction be sure to collect a receipt that states the right amount paid and the right person paid to.
3. Survey Plan: A survey plan details the exact measurement and description of land it including its length and breadth. It also helps to reveal if the land is under any government acquisition, which is also known as committed land. A committed property is one that the state or federal government has earmarked for a particular project so to avoid conflict with the government, every land must be surveyed by a certified surveyor and a survey plan submitted for approval.
4. Governor’s Consent: This document is essential for your real estate transaction to be deemed legal, as the name implies it is a document that shows the governor’s approval of a land transaction. The initial owner of virgin land is qualified to obtain a C of O but every subsequent buyer of that land is required to get a governor’s consent because there can only be one owner of the certificate of occupancy.
5. Certificate of Occupancy: This is a document that shows the owner has been given legal permission from the executive government of the state to occupy a property. It is mostly known as C of O. It is a very important land title, widely used to resolve land disputes that arise from ownership tussles. It is accepted as a security or collateral for loans from banks and other financial institutions.
The process of getting these land titles can be quite worrisome and frustrating so it is very important that you secure the services of trusted real estate professionals to carry out this process for you.
It is noteworthy that the laws governing these land titles can be quite complex and frustrating so it is very important that you understand land ownership rights. Understanding these land titles will help any prospective landowner avoid the risk of scams and bad investment experiences.