Are you really confused about the type of documents to demand from a potential land seller when buying land in Lagos or perhaps anywhere in Nigeria?
I know it is a very tough one and you are not the only person in that situation. Considering our type of environment and the many stories we have heard about land related frauds, you are definitely asking the right question.
Think about it for a moment, why do people get easily defrauded just because they want to invest in landed properties? Why won’t you just do a little digging before parting with your hard earned money? Do we really have a way of proving whether a set of land documents are genuine or not? Who is the go to person when you need to verify documents for a parcel of land you intend to purchase?
The questions above are not as difficult as they seem. I will be sharing with you with you the outcome of my research from talking and reading from professionals what you basically need to be on the lookout for when buying land in Lagos and Abuja especially and Nigeria in General. You will be reading about the following:
1. 5 Major types of land documents to ask for when buying Land
2. The meaning of some of the titles on land you intend to purchase
3. My advice on the best way to verify some of the land documents
4. Finally my recommendations on how to perfect your land documents
To be candid, it is a long read but it is better you tool yourself with the right information than get your fingers burnt. The issue of getting the right land document is not just about losing your hard earned money, but there are people who have also lost their lives in the process which could have been avoided if due diligence was done at the point of purchase.
Buying Land in Lagos & Nigeria: 6 Major types of documents you MUST DEMAND For
Before I list and explain each of the document types, it is important you know that the type of land document you request for may depend on who you are buying from. Generally there are two or maybe three types of people you buy from; An individual or family, A real estate company or developer, and lastly government.
You will think the best of the three is government right? Am not so sure not with the experiences of people who were sold some dummy lands by people working for government only for such properties to be revoked later. If there is a genuine advert for sale of land by government, and you apply rightly and won the bid, or bought through legal government means, then you have no need to worry provided you get the right set of document from government which in most cases is a letter of allocation from the government, an approved survey plan and a governor certified certificate of occupancy provided you pay for it.
When buying land from a developer e.g listed properties like Arium estate and Westwood estate, you need a purchase receipt, approved survey plan, a deed of assignment, an excision, possibly a power of attorney to sell the land and importantly a certificate of occupancy.
Lastly and the most delicate is buying from an individual or family. I say delicate because you need to do a lot of due diligence here before you go ahead. If you are buying from another individual who himself purchased the land, you need to ensure that all the documents he’s transferring to you are genuine and you must go the extra mile to confirm their genuineness. Otherwise, I will say you transact through property lawyer or estate agent who knows what he’s doing. Also you need to know the reason why the person is putting the property up for sales. Some sell their properties because there is a contention about ownership and you don’t really want such liabilities transferred to you.
In case you are buying from a family, then you need to ensure you go directly to the family lawyer who will issue you a receipt (family receipt), a verified excision document with accompanying gazette where government published the land as being excised to the family. A registered survey and a layout plan will be the other documents to request for if available.
A. Land Purchase Receipt: We all go out and buy different stuffs at the store and demand for receipts. It is not too different with the purchase of land properties. Immediately you have verified the authenticity of the land and other property documents I have listed below, you must demand for the receipt of payment. These days, never do a transaction with cash. It becomes near impossible to trace again once you pay off. The best means of payments are through cheques addressed to the company or through online transfers. This way you are rest assured that your payment and the beneficiary can be easily tracked in case there are issues in the nearest future. Again I cannot over emphasize the point….. Never do cash transactions…….
B. An approved survey plan: Every land must be surveyed by a certified surveyor and a survey plan submitted to the government for approval. Upon approval of the document, there is a survey number that accompanies the survey plan which is the survey plan number. It is a unique number and can be verified. If your land is a larger parcel of land being sold, you will need to demand for the layout plan of the estate too in order to see and know how your parcel is located within the larger estate. At times you may also want to know the development plan of the estate as to the classification of building within the estate. Some estate will not permit the mixing of different building patterns. So it is always good to ask about the plan vis-a-vis your intended plan and usage for your plot.
C. Excision document: This type of document is important especially when a certificate of occupancy is not available and you need to be sure the land is not a government acquisition or on governments plan for future use. Excision properly gazetted is a document and verified from the ministry of lands will make for a good land document.
When you buy a land from a family with the excision, you will be given a form 1c which will be submitted to government to show that the land has been sold to you by the family.
D. Deed of assignment: This is a signed agreement between you and the seller of the land signed and stamped by a notary public that a particular plot or plots of land has been given to you. The document will be signed by the property seller, the property buyer and a notary public. Also a deed of assignment must contain a certified layout plan and the survey plan for your plot. It must also state the plot allotted to you and the coordinates of the plots main boundaries. Other key information to be included are size of the plot, cost of the plot, seal of the company, witnesses’ signature and properly initialed pages.
E. Certificate of Occupancy: This is the certificate issued by the government to the first occupier of a land. When a land has certificate of occupancy, it is a good land to purchase but you will do well to verify the authenticity of such document from the government. When a document has been sold by an original owner to another party, the land should have what is termed a governor’s consent. The transfer of a purchased land to another party from the original owner is incomplete without the Governor’s consent obtained. In fact it is the only authorizing document notifying you of Government’s approval of the transfer of such land property. When buying land in Lagos, it is to your advantage that you process a Governor’s consent to protect your investment especially from omoonile or being taking over by another person. Your Governor’s consent must also be registered with the bureau of lands who will attach a number to the document for ease of tracking. I know the process can be a bit daunting, but you will do well to go through and shield your property from intrusion.
Now you know the main document you need when you go buying your land. I will in th next article be touching on how to get your property documents verified. Meanwhile, I hope to get your feedback if this article has been useful to you. Kindly like our page or drop a comment and we will respond.