The transfer of land ownership in Nigeria involves the process where the legal rights to land are actually transferred from one person to the next.
There are many methods by which property can be transferred in Nigeria. The most commons of these methods are by Sale, Gift, and Assent.
Many laws are governing the transfer of properties in Nigeria, specifically in Lagos State. Some of these laws include:
Land Use Act of 1978
Administration of Estate Law of Lagos State 2015
Land Registration Law of Lagos State 2015
Stamp Duties Law of Lagos State 2015
SALE OF LAND
The selling of landed properties involves the outright transfer of an interest in land from one person to the next.
There are statutory and ordinary conditions that must be fulfilled in the upon the sale of a property or order to pass a valid and clan title in the property. Some of these conditions include the followings:
When land is a family or perhaps community-owned land, it may not be appropriately transferred unless the approval of the principal members and head of the family or community is secured.
Regulations and town planning laws must be considered in purchasing a property, as the government decides the type of buildings that can be erected in a particular area.
Where litigation is pending in respect of a property, such a property may not be legitimately transferred to another buyer.
The sale of land often involved two main stages, which are actually the contract stage as well as the conveyancing stage.
When land or a property has been sold, the appropriate document transferring the title of the land and contract of sale stipulating some terms of the transactions must be drafted and signed by both parties.
Upon signing of any deed of assignment or conveyance, such property must be perfected. The perfection, also known as registration of property, involves three stages, namely, the governor’s consent, stamping, and registration.
GIFT OF PROPERTY
Another method of transfer of land ownership is actually by gift. Unlike a sale, a gift of land requires no registration fees. All that is needed is the intention by the donor to make the gift, completed act of delivery to the recipient, and acceptance by the beneficiary. When an individual gets a gift, he or she must ensure there is a proof stating that the land was gifted to him or her. An appropriate document to be used for a gift is referred to as a Deed of Gift, which can be registered with a land bureau.
Probate is actually a process by which the assets of a deceased devolves into other persons through a valid Will or other means.
When a person dies with a valid Will, the executors listed in the will may seek to prove it and obtain probate, which grants all assets of the deceased to them. They become legal owners of the assets.
Additionally, when an individual dies intestate, then the property of the deceased will be distributed according to the relevant provisions of the law. The personal representatives of the dead will have the ability to apply as administrators and obtain a letter of administration in respect to the estate, which makes them legal owners.
The Executors or the Administrators of the estate can transfer ownership in the estate to any third party via an Assent.
LAND TRANSFER DOCUMENTS IN NIGERIA
There are various documents affecting landed properties in Nigeria. Some of these documents will be briefly explained below.
LAND PURCHASE RECEIPT
Usually, vendors issue a receipt to the buyer upon the sale of land. Nevertheless, the receipt may be obviated where the clause for receipt is contained in the document transferring the land.
CONTRACT OF SALE OF LAND
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.
A survey plan is used to show the extent 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.
DEED OF ASSIGNMENT
Deed of Assignment, also known as Deed of Conveyance, is some states is used in sales transactions to permanently transfer a landed property from the seller (also known as assignor) to the buyer (also refers to as assignee). It must be perfected upon signing.
CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY (C of O)
C of O is usually issued by the state government, indicating that a person now owns a parcel of land. It is issued to individuals that have held a piece of land before 1979. State governments also give it to the allottees of 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.
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
This’s a document that proves that real estate has been gifted from one person (donor) to another (donee). Such a form is used to transfer interest in a landed property permanently.
A grant of probate is a document derived after proving the will of a deceased person through inheritance. The document vests all the assets contained in the will into the executors of the estate, who now recognized legal owners 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 the deceased. The Probate or Letter of Administration will now be the only recognized legal documents to effect a transfer of any interest in the property of the deceased.
LETTER OF ADMINISTRATION
The letter of administration also vests the assets 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 together with the grant of probate or letter of administrators.
JUDGEMENT OF COURT
The judgement of a court is another essential document which may affect or transfer an interest in a specific landed property from one person to the next. In Nigeria, the interest in several properties has 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 crucial to examine the full decision of the court in respect of such property.
In sum, when someone wishes to buy a landed property or perhaps carry out any transaction on a property in Nigeria, it is crucial to carry out due diligence first to ascertain the genuineness or correctness of the property documents presented by the vendor.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances
Olusola Jegede is the managing Partner, Resolution law firm.