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Important Land Documents to Understand When Buying Lands In Nigeria

Buying a land in any country has its pros and cons. This is not different when buying a land in Nigeria too.

One of the important things to ensure you purchase a legitimate land is the type of documents you need to obtain. When you understand the land documents, you are on the right track.

Some Background into Understanding Land Documents:

Land Classification

Land can either be regarded as free or acquired. If the government has not shown interest in a piece of land, it is termed as free. This means that you can purchase it and claim the land title without any hassle. It is important to note that, if a land is marked into the categories of ‘urban areas’, it is already under government’s acquisition.

You can acquire land in two ways:

1. Committed Acquisition –there are lands that the government has marked for certain purposes, such as building a social infrastructure, these land are under committed acquisition. Such lands are for the government and private citizens don’t have access to buy that property. If an individual buys the land, sooner or later, they will be sent parking by the government, as it is impossible to claim the land title.

2. Global or General Acquisition – these lands can be confirmed as free or committed. To make such land free, it must go through the process of excision.

The excision process – at different times, the government can release the part of a large piece of land that isn’t committed; this makes the land free and gazetted. The land is now made available to be purchased and it is possible to process a proper title on that land.

If a land is purchased and it is under acquisition and has not gone through the excision process, there is another process it can go through. It is called “ratification”.

In this case, the owner pays to ratify the land. For this to be accepted the land owner’s purpose for buying the land must align with the original plan of the government and it must not fall in the committed area. These processes are different across the states, it is important to find out more about this.

The Required Documents

  1. Deed Of Assignments

This is the document that is issued by a real estate attorney. It is a document that shows the transaction between the new buyer of a property and the current title holder of that property.

As the ownership of the property is being transferred to the new buyer, the deed of assignment is the legal document that ascertains this. This document must also be recorded at the appropriate land registry of the state as evidence of the land ownership transfer.

The content of this document include, the date of ownership transfer, the description of the property and the following:

1. The purchase receipt

2. The contract of sale and

3. The deed of assignment

4. The survey plan

5. The Building plan for housing investment

6. Any other title document that may apply

It is mandatory that the land seller signs all the above documents, to authenticate the purchase and these documents are given to the buyer.

  1. Survey Plan

This plan gives the measurement of a land and describes how the land looks like. To survey a land, you need the services of a State-registered Surveyor (we have this at Firstlead Properties). The plan has information such as:

1. The name of the owner of the land surveyed

2. The Address or description of the land surveyed

3. The size of the land surveyed

4. The drawn out portion of the land survey and mapped out on the survey plan document

5. The beacon numbers

6. The surveyor who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up

7. A stamp showing the land is either free from Government acquisition or not

  1. Excision

As explained above, it is crucial to duly record the land you have bought, that has been excised; else that land can be taken by the government, as you will be unable to claim the title of the land.

  1. Gazette

This is a record that has all the details of any government properties. All the communities with excision, including the sizes of the land will be recorded in this official document. For example, a traditional family is only entitled to sell from the land that the government had excised for them.

Without a C of O (Certificate of Occupancy, a community can use this gazette as an instrument to grant title and land ownership to the community members.

In case the government needs to use your land, so far it is within the ones excised, you have a right to being compensated accordingly.

  1. Certificate Of Occupancy

It is important to note that “All lands belong to the Government.”

A Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is issued by the state. For example in Lagos State, Nigeria it means the Government is officially leasing a part of Lagos land to you for the next 99 yrs.

  1. Governor’s Consent

The powers of the Governor to Consent to a land transaction can be found in Section 22. Of the LAND USE ACT 1978 as amended that states thus:

“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, mortgage, and transfer of possession, subleases or otherwise howsoever without the consent of the Governor first had and obtained”

You are entitled to a C of O when you are the first person to occupy a land (so far it is not under any government acquisition). If you choose to sell off the land, you must obtain a Governor’s Consent to sell the land. Without this consent, it is considered illegal.

If your buyer decides to sell the land, they must obtain a new Governor’s Consent too, to keep things legal. The cycle continues this ways. Only the first owner of a land needs the C of O, all others basically need to obtain a Governor’s Consent to transfer the ownership of a land

While it is good and easy to buy a land that has a global C of O, it is better and safer to perfect the buying of a land by obtaining the Governor’s consent.

People have always thought that the C of O is the ultimate document they need when purchasing a land, but you have seen from this article that obtaining a Governor’s Consent on your land is a far better option to remove all the headaches that comes with buying a land.

For more information on how to purchase a genuine land and process all your documents, contact us at Firstlead Properties.

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