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IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING REAL ESTATE IN NIGERIA

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING REAL ESTATE IN NIGERIA

May 5, 2023

Several years ago, I heard of the story of a young man who inherited a house from his mother and was living in it peacefully, after some years he decided to build for himself and his family a magnificent building. So he embarked on a land search, he wanted an acre of land which is 6plots, he planned on developing some and leaving some for
investment purposes.

Because his first house was gifted to him, he didn’t know the process to follow, how to tell if the owners are genuine, he didn’t know what titles are and what title to look out for, he just went into the search and not too long he found some persons who said they have family lands to sell, he went there, liked it and paid for it. When it was time to develop the land and start building, at the foundation level of the construction.

He was accosted by some security officers who ordered him to stop working when he asked why? He was told that the land he was building on was not for him, the owner sent them to order him to stop working, of course you can tell the end of the story right? The land document given to him were fake, the people that sold to him were not the true owners of the land, the matter lingered in court and of course the rightful owners with the genuine documents won the case and he eventually lost his money, of course the people that sold the land were no-where to be found. He lost huge sum of money and this almost cost him his life.

A lot of people have gone through some challenge because they don’t understand land documentation and they don’t know that they are supposed to do due diligence on any property they are buying.

This is why it is also very important to buy from a credible real estate company, that is tested and trusted, such company do due diligence before acquiring properties to sell, watch my video on how to identify the right real estate company to trust in Nigeria. If you are a first time investor or already an investor but you don’t know about land
documentation this video is for you. Watch till the end so you get to know and understand the right documents before buying any real estate, also do not forget to leave a comment after watching.

With the level of fraud that comes with buying land in Nigeria especially in Lagos, it is very important to know all land documents so you can be rest assured that the land you are buying or owned is legally yours.

In the course of selling lands, one question I constantly get asked is “what is the title of the land”. This is a very valid and vital question because without perfecting the title of your land, it can be stolen from you or even risk eviction if you bought a government committed land.

Before I delve into the topic proper, I will like to talk about land classification first so you can best understand these land documents and their importance in retaining the ownership of your land legally.

Land can be broadly classified as either free or acquired. A land is said to be free if the government has not indicated any interest whatsoever in the land. This type of land is safe to buy so you can go ahead to perfect the title documents without any hassle.

On the other hand, an acquired land simply means a land that government has shown interest in and have been designated as “urban areas” until deemed free.

Committed Acquisition: a land is said to be under committed acquisition if the government has indicated interest to use the land for public interest such as building of hospitals, schools or for construction of roads or other amenities.

This type of land belongs to the government and can never be available for use by individuals. If you buy such lands, I am really sorry for you, because you have lost your hard-earned money to land grabbers because sooner or later when the government is ready to make use of the land, you will be kicked out without any compensation. Now that you have understood the different classes of land  in Nigeria, let us now delve into the details about land documents in Nigeria.

These documents are:
1. Deed of Assignment
2. Survey Plan
3. Excision
4. Gazette
5. Certificate of Occupancy
6. Governor’s Consent

For the sake of clarity and understanding, I will explain each of these land documents.

1. Deed of Assignment:

This is a transactional document drawn up by a real estate attorney between the current owner of the land and the new buyer. A deed of assignment is a legal document that transfers the ownership of the
property to the person to whom it is assigned the assignee. This document is very important in real property transactions as it spells out the date when the transfer of the property was made and also contains the details and description of the said property.

Upon collection of your Deed of Assignment document after purchasing your landed property, it’s also very important that you have it registered at the appropriate land registry. This is to make sure that the government and the general public is aware of the transaction and also shows legal evidence that the ownership of the said property has been legally transferred to you the buyer.

Having your deed of assignment recorded at the lands registry and having it stamped at the stamp duties office means you can further process a governor’s consent or registers conveyance of the land.

However, it should be noted that the deed of assignment is not the only document you should collect after purchasing your land. A purchase receipt, an invoice and a contract of sale are also important as a deed of assignment document that indicates the transfer of ownership.

2. Survey Plan:

A survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to prove the identity of that land as it clearly marks and defines legal boundaries of the land. A survey plan is a map that shows the boundaries and features of land.

A survey plan must contain the following information.

  • The name of the owner of the land surveyed
  • The address or description of the land surveyed
  • The size of the land surveyed
  • The drawn out portion of the land surveyed and mapped out on the survey plan document
  • The beacon numbers
  • The surveyors who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up
  • A stamp showing the land is either free from government acquisition or not.

Please note that the red copy survey or record copy is the legal document needed to perfect your land title. A survey drawn on a land under government acquisition cannot be lodged at the office of the surveyor general.

3. Excision:

By the virtue of the land use act on the 28th of March, 1978, all lands belong to the government under the control of the state governors but fortunately, the act recognizes the ancestral land owners which gives them the power to reclaim he portion of land that the government do not intend to use and where this is done, it is called Excision.

Excision simply means taking a part from a whole and that part that has been taken will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state.

This means once the excision has been approved, the land is no longer under government acquisition and you are free to use it for whatever purpose you dim fit.

In simple words, buying a land without excision means government can seize it anytime without compensating you even if you bought it legitimately from the Baale or the family.

I am sure this is getting interesting and you now see why land documents are very important. Let’s talk more on the next document which is gazette.

4. Gazette:

As we learnt earlier that all lands belong to the government and the process of reclaiming un-used land is excision. After excision has been granted, it needs to be regarded officially in a government book called Gazette.

Simply put, a gazette is an official record book where all special government details are spelt out and recorded. A gazette shows the communities that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given back to them.

Note that it is written that those excised acres or hectares that the traditional families are entitled to sell its lands to the public and not anything outside the excised land. This is where land grabbers play on their victims by selling government acquired or committed land to unsuspecting buyers. This is the reason you must do your due diligence
and use the service of a credible and trusted real estate company like Ehi-Kings before buying land in Nigeria so
you won’t lose your hard-earned money.

The interesting thing about this documents is if para-venture the government needs your land (that has been gazette) later in the future, you will be compensated as long as the land falls within the excised portion even if you have not processed the C of O.

How To Identify A Real Gazette Document

  1.  The first page of the gazette must contain the following: the logo of the country and the inscription of the title “Lagos State of NIGERIA OFFICIAL GAZETTE” (if done in Lagos State). Underneath it must have the number, volume, page date and the location it was signed into law e.g No 54 in pages 100 to 190, volume 85 dated 8th Oct 2023. It also contains the list of the villages, settlements and total parcel of land excised back to the community.
  2. The inner pages will show the following: the description of the area or village excised, the number of acres or  hectares of lands that was excised to the original owners, where the boundaries of the beacons start and stopped, the page the description of the village excised in.

To verify whether a land is under government acquisition or it has an excision recorded in a gazette, you will need a surveyor to chart the said land and document “land information” search at the office of the surveyor general.

5. Certificate of Occupancy:

This almighty C of O, some people won’t buy a land if it doesn’t have a c of o because they feel this document is the highest and best land document. Well let’s find out what a C of O is.

A certificate of occupancy C of O as popularly called is a land document issued by the state government to officially lease any land under the state to you for 99 years. Honestly we don’t know. The question is still a subject of debate among experts while most have adopted a wait and see attitude, others postulate that as a new owner of the land, you the buyer can renew the C of O when it expires.

6. Governor’s Consent:

This land document is obtained whenever you buy a land with c of o. It is a form of letting the governor and the general public know that the land ownership has been transferred to you. One of the advantages of having a governor’s consent document on your land is that you can transfer your land to another person without giving back to the Baale or Omoniles to sign your deed of assignment and form A which is a compulsory requirement needed to process governors consent. To save yourself from all the stress, it is advisable to buy land from trusted real estate companies in Nigeria like Ehi-Kings and you will be just fine.

With this few points I explained extensively on what land documents are so you’ll get properly informed and don’t get scammed by fraudulent land owners or land grabbers. I will strongly advise that to avoid unnecessary stress, buy secured and titled lands from tested, trusted and reputable real estate companies and to do so, kindly click on the WhatsApp icon on our website and we will hand-walk you through a seamless real estate experience that you will be most grateful for.

If you find this article useful, share also to as many as possible so they get well informed, also leave a comment.



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