Buying Land in Lagos? This is your Ultimate Guide
Buying a landed property in Lagos is a dream for most Nigerians. It is one of the determinants of success in Nigeria. However, buying land in Lagos can be very tricky. As a matter of fact, people’s dreams have been shattered by buying from the wrong hands.
Some years ago, a friend who lives in the USA tried to buy land in Lagos. Consequently, he informed his wife who lives in Lekki, Lagos about his dream. After much deliberation, he sent money to his wife. The wife paid for a piece of land in one of the estates in Ajah. After a few weeks, she went back there to check her land but she met some people working on the land. It dawned on her that she paid to the wrong person. Consequently, the fear of buying land from the wrong hands in Lagos has made it difficult for a lot of potential investors to invest.
How do you ascertain ownership of Land before you pay?
In the case of Elegushi vs Oseni (2005) 14 NWLR (PT 945) AT 348, the supreme court clearly stated the five types of legal land ownership in Nigeria.
By Traditional evidence
In the olden days, people found and settled on a parcel of land. They are regarded as the owner after spending a period of time on the land. Nigerian law recognizes traditional ownership. They do not need to have a certificate of occupancy to prove ownership of the land. Most people buying land in Lagos always go to the traditional families to ascertain true ownership before exchanging funds.
Ownership by extending over a sufficient length of time which acts are numerous and positive enough to warrant the inference that they are owners
Nigerian law also recognizes this type of ownership. Though, they cannot prove they founded the land. But they are able to prove their forefathers have lived on the land for years without anyone challenging them.
By acts of long possession and enjoyment of the land in dispute
This is a situation where the landowner cannot prove traditional ownership or show the land is not challenged. If their adversaries fail to prove ownership by law. The law says they have true ownership of the land.
By the production of the authentic documents of title
It is assumed by the law that anyone who produces the authentic documents owns the land. This will cover all documents including the certificate of occupancy. Therefore, before you buy a land in Lagos, it is advisable to conduct a search. The search is usually done at the family office of the traditional owners of the land and at the state ministry of Lands. Nevertheless, a certificate of occupancy will not determine true ownership if it is proved that the root of the title is defective.
Consequently, it is important that all buyers of land in Lagos conduct a search and ensure the root of title of such documents is good before exchanging money. If the root title is bad, any documents issued on that root title is not acceptable to law.
By proof of possession of connected or adjacent land in circumstances rendering it probable that the owners of such connected or adjacent land would, in addition, be owners of the land in dispute
This happens when there is no dispute on a large expanse of land. The occupant of the land will be deemed to be the rightful owners of adjoining lands. It will be ascertained there is no other evidence proving otherwise.
Title documents you must request for before buying land in Lagos
Certificate Of Occupancy
It is popularly called the C of O. It is the most important title document used to certify the legal and true ownership of any land in Lagos. C of O indicates that the executive governor of the state has transferred statutory ownership of the land. In the case of rural land, the local government chairman of the council where the land resides gives a customary right of occupancy to the owner.
Right Of Occupancy
According to the Land-use Act of 1978, the right of occupancy is the right to use land for a period of time. It is different from ownership of the land under both customary laws and any common laws. An Individual or corporate body is given the right to use a parcel of land in an approved government layout. It is usually 99 years for residential purposes and between 35-70 years for other uses.
It is usually granted by the executive governor of the state. The FCT minister grants R of O for land in the federal capital territory.
Deed Of Assignment
It is an agreement between a buyer and seller of the land. It shows the seller has transferred all his rights, title, interest and ownership of the land to the new buyer. When buying any land in Lagos, the buyer has to confirm if the deed is registered or not. Land ownership transactions should be registered at the ministry of lands. This ensures that the Lagos state government has records of the title status of all lands within its jurisdiction.
All registered deed of assignment at the Lagos State Ministry of Lands is authenticated. It is either in the form of a governor’s consent or registered conveyance. The deed of assignment and the certificate of occupancy are the two most important documents when buying land in Lagos.
A survey plan is a document that shows the boundary of a piece of land to know the actual size and the description of that land. When buying any piece of land in Lagos, the survey plan is very important. It shows the actual ownership of land. It also helps reveal if such land is under any government acquired or committed areas. A survey plan is handled by surveyors. Activities of surveyors are regulated by the surveyor-general in Lagos.
Things You Must Do Before Buying a Landed Property in Lagos.
- You must carry out proper investigation on the property to know the actual owner
- Visit the property to make inquiries from people around
- You may need to investigate the traditional history of the land in some cases
- Ask questions on grey areas
A buyer should only make a financial commitment after you are satisfied with the result of the search. Also, here’s how you can access mortgage to buy land in Lagos.
It is important to register the title you get from the seller at the appropriate government agency.