The real estate scene in Nigeria is a delicate one and you need to know what you are getting yourself into, before you make any investment into buying lands. Before you pay for any landed property in Nigeria, here is a list of the documents you should watch out for. Depending on the land, you don’t need all of the documents listed here but in most cases, you will need to have more than one to be called the rightful owner of the landed property.
CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY (C of O)
C of O is usually issued by the state government, indicating that a person owns a parcel of land or property. It is issued to individuals that have held a piece of land before 1979. State governments also give it to the allotters of the government’s land. An Individual who subsequently takes over land by way of sale does not require a new certificate of occupancy but rather a deed of assignment with the governor’s Consent.
APPROVED SURVEY PLAN
A survey plan is used to show the location and size of landed property. With the descriptions and coordinates on the survey document, it is easier to check or search from the office of the Surveyor-General whether the land is actually under any government acquisition or not.
LAND PURCHASE RECEIPT
A land purchase receipt is a normal receipt or document reflecting the receipt of payment for a particular property or land. Usually, vendors issue a receipt to the buyer upon the sale of a property. However, the receipt may be obviated where the clause for receipt is contained in the document transferring the land.
DEED OF ASSIGNMENT
Deed of Assignment or Deed of Conveyance is used in sales transactions to permanently transfer a landed property from the seller (also known as assignor) to the buyer (also referred to as assignee). It may be drafted by the assignor and reviewed by the assignee or vice versa.
CONTRACT OF SALE
The contract of sale of land is used by parties to agree on some terms before the finalization of the transaction. It is relevant when any property is to be purchased by anyone. It is not a registrable instrument and must be preceded with other document transferring title in the applicable property.
When a land with Certificate of Occupancy is sold to another person it is required that such a person must now obtain the Consent of the Governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the Government. As the name sounds, a governor’s consent means the governor consented to the transaction; the transfer of ownership of a parcel of land with certificate of Occupancy from one person to the other.
EXCISION AND GAZETTE
To excise a land means to cut it. This is the process whereby the government releases a parcel of land back to the indigenous owners of such lands for the purpose of residential and commercial developments. When this excised parcel of land is published in government official gazette such a land is said to have Gazette as title. Excision and gazette are very good titles for a piece of land; such lands are safe to buy and develop. The gazette then becomes the title on the land and such land is safe to buy because a proper title can be processed on the land.
DEED OF MORTGAGE
Deed of mortgage is actually used in mortgage transactions to show that land or property has been transferred from the mortgagor (borrower) to the mortgagee (lender). It is a temporary transfer in the sense that the mortgagor shall be entitled to retrieve this property back from the lender when the total loan amount, together with the accrued interest has been paid.
DEED OF GIFT
It is a document that proves that land or property has been gifted from one person (Donor) to another (Donee). A deed of gift can be used to transfer interest in a landed property permanently.
GRANT OF PROBATE
A grant of probate is a document derived after proving the will of a deceased person through inheritance in the probate registry. The document vests all the assets contained in the will into the executors of the estate, who are now recognized legal owners of the property in law. After the owner of any property has become late, all the property’s documents of such person are no longer valid to transfer any interest in the assets left behind by him or her. The Probate will now be the only recognized legal documents to prove the title to such property.
LETTER OF ADMINISTRATION
The letter of administration also vests the property left behind by a deceased person into the administrators of a specific estate. It is usually granted to the personal representatives of a deceased person where the deceased left no will before death or where the will has become invalid for any reason.
Assent is a legal document used to vest an interest in a specific estate into the beneficiaries of an estate or any third-party buyer by the executors or the administrators of the estate. It is always accompanied by a copy of a grant of probate or letter of administration.
JUDGEMENT OF COURT
The judgment of a court is another essential document which may affect or transfer an interest in a specific property from one person to another. In Nigeria, the legal interests in several properties have been transferred from one person to another through the decisions of various courts. When property ownership has been derived through litigation or any property has been subjected to a lawsuit, it is essential to examine the full decision of the court in respect of such property by obtaining a copy of the judgement.