Buying a house in Nigeria connotes various legal requirements and key procedures to be followed. The first key step towards purchasing a property in Nigeria is to engage a lawyer who can verify the proposed house to be purchased. It is only a lawyer who would ensure one does not run into legal troubles with property title after purchase, and also by Nigerian laws, it is only a lawyer that is statutorily permitted to prepare legal documents (instruments) for transfer of an interest in any property for a fee.
STEPS FOR BUYING A HOUSE IN NIGERIA
The following steps are crucial and must be carefully followed for buying any property in Nigeria:
- The buyer must demand and collect all relevant property title documents from the seller.
- The buyer may then engage a lawyer to investigate the title of the seller and also conduct due diligence in respect of the house to be sold.
- The buyer will conduct a search at the land registry and investigate the property’s title accordingly through his or her solicitor.
- If the title of the property is genuine, a seller or buyer may go-ahead to prepare a contract of sale that will be signed by both parties. The buyer may go ahead and make a deposit or pay all the property sum at this stage.
- Upon the payment of the entire sum, the seller or buyer may prepare and sign the document conveying the interest in the property, which could be a deed of assignment or conveyance.
- The buyer may go ahead and perfect the title of the property with the relevant land registry
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR BUYING A HOUSE IN NIGERIA
Of the process of buying land, there are several relevant documents required from the seller to be able to effectively pass a good title to the purchaser. These documents are essential as they tend to prove the ownership interest of the seller. One must be aware that there are various types of property documents in Nigeria. These documents include the followings:
- Approved survey plan: This is a crucial document that helps to reveal the actual location of any property and the boundaries of the property. It will also reveal whether the land is under any government acquisition or not.
- Deed of Assignment: It is a really important document, which should be prepared by either seller or buyer of the land after the conclusion of any land transaction. It is a document used to transfer an interest in a property from one person to another. Where the seller previously purchased the house to be sold from another seller, the new buyer needs to demand a copy of this document to enable him or her to trace the history of the house to be purchased.
- Probate & Letter of Administration: Where in any property’s transaction, the owner is late, the buyer needs to request for the grant of probate or letter of administration in respect of the property. Any documents directly owned by a deceased in respect of his or her property before death becomes invalidated after his or her death to convey title in the said property. The grant of probate or letter of administration will become the document that serves as a legal title in respect of any land or house owned by a deceased person. The document will name Executors or Administrators, as the case may be, who can sign any document transferring the interest in the property called Assent.
- Certificate of Occupancy (CofO): The CofO certifies the legal ownership status of any land or property in Nigeria irrespective of its use. It is usually delivered to the owner of land by the government attesting to the owner’s interest to the property where such interest is actually following the applicable laws. It is a legal document indicating that an individual that has acquired an interest in land having been granted a statutory right of occupancy by the governor of the state. The CofO is not usually applicable to all properties. It is usually issued to persons who have owned a property in Nigeria before the enactment of the Land Use Act 1978 or to people who are getting direct property allocation from any government.
- Governor’s Consent: A governor’s consent is not a document on its own. It is the approval or attestation of a state governor by himself or through its designated commissioner to any property transfer. Under the Land Use Act of 1978, an approval of the governor of a state is required in respect of any transaction involving the transfer or conveying of any property interest from one person to another.
- Power of Attorney: It is required where an agent is acting for the owner of the house. It is a document that authorizes a particular person to act on the behalf of the real owner of the house.
Finally, it is essential to involve a lawyer when one intends to buy a house in Nigeria, as the responsibilities and roles of a lawyer concerning buying property are all-encompassing. Primarily, the solicitor must investigate the property title, prepare or review the property contract and agreement among others.
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