Buying Land in Nigeria: Important Documents to Collect

During the process of buying land in Nigeria, there are a number of crucial documents are required from the seller in order to adequately validate the transaction These documents are required because they demonstrate the buyer’s title to the land.

Buying Land in Nigeria: Important Documents to Collect

It is crucial to know that there are several forms of land papers in Nigeria. Among these documents are:

Approved Survey Plan

This is an important title document that helps to disclose the real ownership status in any land and landed property transaction. It also assists in determining whether such land is not part of any government-acquired or committed lands/area.

Approved Layout

This is a document that’s usually applied for and gotten from the state’s ministry of physical planning and urban development.

Deed of Assignment

This is a critical document that must be requested and provided to a purchaser following the completion of any land/property transaction between the purchaser/buyer and the owner/seller of the land/landed property in question. 

According to Section 2(v) of the Conveyancing Act 1881, “a conveyance includes any appointment, assignment, lease, settlement, and other assurances and covenants to surrender made by deed of demise, sale, mortgage, or settlement of any property or on any other dealing with or for any property; and convey, unless a contrary is proved, has a meaning correlating to that of conveyance.”

Purchase Receipt

This is documentation of payment for the land purchase and is usually required when the land is registered.

Certificate of Occupancy

This is one of the most significant land title papers that is used to establish the legal ownership status of any land in Nigeria, regardless of its use.

It is often provided to the owner of a piece of land by the government attesting to the owner’s interest in the land when such interest is in line with the applicable laws. It is a legally binding document showing that a person who has acquired an interest in the property has been awarded a statutory right of occupation by the governor.

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Power of Attorney

This is generally necessary when a person acts as an agent for another person, persons, or corporations. It is a document that appoints someone to act on their behalf.

These papers are crucial because they are required to complete a land register search, title registration, deed registration, and certificate of occupancy registration.

It is also crucial to consider the LEGAL CONSEQUENCES OF LAND REGISTRATION IN NIGERIA, which are essentially three:

  • Non-registration may render some papers void,
  • Render them inadmissible as evidence in court proceedings, and
  • Cause them to lose precedence over registered documents affecting the same territory.

It should be emphasized, however, that registration does not cure the instrument (legal document) registered of any fault, nor does it give any effect or validity on the instrument that the instrument would not have had without the registration.

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Property conflicts have always arisen, which frequently result in litigation; this is typical as a consequence of failing to get the appropriate papers for proper ownership of land, as well as failure to finish the process of gaining a flawless title to the land.

As a result, in order to achieve justice, the court will decide in favor of any party who can demonstrate a better title to land or property. This was the court’s ruling in ELEGUSHI v. OSENI (2005) 14 NWLR (PT 945) AT 348.

Thus, under law, the owner of a piece of land or property may not appear before the law as a person with a better title, as was decided in the case of Agboola v. United Bank for Africa Plc. & 2 Ors. (2011) 4 CLRN 33.

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The Supreme Court decided in the well-known case of IDUNDUN v. OKUMAGBA (1976) 9-10 SC, 227 1 NMLR that title or possession to property can be proven in any of the five ways listed below:

1. Based on historical evidence.

2. By presenting title papers that have been legally verified and signed.

3. By actions of ownership that are numerous and positive enough to support the inference of genuine possession over a sufficient length of time.

4. By acts of long ownership and enjoyment, and

5. Proof of possession of linked or adjacent land under circumstances suggesting that the owner of such connected or adjacent land is also the owner of the land in question.

Thus, one of the most typical methods described above is the creation of a grant or title deed. This procedure requires the submission of any of the following documents: a Deed of Assignment/Conveyance, a Gift Deed, a Legal Mortgage, and a Certificate of Occupancy. As a result, it is critical that a person seeking to purchase land advise his lawyer to perfect the title to the land or property.

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It is highly important to remember that only a legal practitioner is authorized to create land-related instruments. Lease deeds, Assignments, Legal mortgages, and so on are examples of such documents.

The name and address of the legal practitioner must be mentioned on the instrument, as well as the legal practitioner’s seal; this is referred to as the franking of such papers.

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The reason for this is that if an instrument pertaining to immovable property does not include the details of the legal practitioner who created it, it may not be accepted for registration at the land registry.

In conclusion, it is extremely important and desirable to include a lawyer when one plans to buy land or acquire property since the function and obligation of a lawyer in this transaction include, but is not limited to, the following:

i. Investigate the title requested to be transferred from the relevant registries

ii. Providing advice on the viability or otherwise of the title to the property being transferred.

iii. Preparation of a formal contract that encapsulates the parties’ agreement regarding the property being transferred. Excellent writing abilities are necessary to guarantee that the document accurately reflects the parties’ intentions.

iv. Contract approval by the purchaser’s attorney v. Contract exchange by the contract’s parties vi. Obtaining the agreement of appropriate authorities for authorization to transfer the legal interest in the property

vii. Preparing and securing the execution of the deed or instrument transferring the legal interest in the property.

viii. Payment of stamp duties, fees, and other taxes on the property being transferred ix. Registration of the instrument conveying the legal interest in the land

Before Buying Land in Nigeria, all of the preceding must be carried out properly by the legal practitioner acting on behalf of the property buyer.

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