Amongst the many investigations to be carried out when buying land or property in Nigeria, knowing the land title of the land you are about to purchase is of utmost importance.
There have been occurrences of land owners losing their land due to lack of appropriate documents as proof of ownership. Sometimes, it could be a case of fraud where the land is sold by someone other than the real owner or in other cases, land placed under government acquisition. This is why you must find out the land title of the property before purchasing.
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What are Land Titles?
Land title is a document showing evidence of an individual or company’s rights to or ownership of the land. It shows the current state of the land as regards ownership and determines whether a land can be sold or not.
According to the 1978 Land Use Act, all land belongs to the government. This invariably means that proper approval must be gotten from the government before land can be bought or sold regardless of what the purpose is whether commercial, residential, or industrial. Thus, the need for land titles.
Different Types of Land Titles
There are different types of land titles according to the type of acquisition and each have their own specifications.
A land is either free or under acquisition. When a land is free, this means that it is not under government acquisition and the government has no need for the land. If a land is under government acquisition, that means the land is under government’s jurisdiction and is to be used for whatever purpose deemed fit by the government. If you purchase and build on a land marked under government acquisition, you could have your property demolished.
There are also two types of government acquisition which are;
1. Global acquisition
2. Committed acquisition
When a land is under global acquisition, this means that there is no specific purpose of use assigned to the land yet. As such, it can eventually become free or transit to being committed, as the case may be.
In committed acquisition, the land or plots of land have been designated for a specific purpose and can never be given out to individuals or companies for sale or development. These are the lands that properties built on them eventually get demolished because another purpose had been initially assigned to them.
Excision and Gazette
Under Global Acquisition, we have the Excision and Gazette. In excision, the parcels of land are given back to the indigenous owners for whatever use they intend. Just as the name implies, the land is cut off as part of government acquisition. This is then published in the government official gazette and given the land title of Gazette. Such land is then free to be bought, sold or developed.
Certificate of Occupancy
This is probably the most popular land title that people are familiar with. The C of O document proves legal ownership and is issued by the government. Its duration is for 99 years.
This land title is used when a land that has already been issued a certificate of occupancy is being sold. The governor has to consent to the transaction before it can be termed legal. This also gives approval for transferring the land with C of O to the person buying it.
Read more on Certificate of Occupancy here
Deed of Assignment
This is a document that shows the agreement between the two parties involved in the transaction. This agreement includes the owner transferring all of his rights, ownership and privileges on the land to the buyer. The deed of Assignment is registered and sealed at the land registry.
Importance of Land Titles
Land titles are very important because they save you from pursuing a transaction in futility. The money, time and stress that could have been required over a period of time only to discover the land is not legally available for sale is completely avoided.
Before you purchase any land or conclude any transaction, it is necessary for you to find out the land title of the land so you do not fall prey to real estate fraud.
When you take the issue of land title with levity, you face the risk of losing a lot of money or even the property you’ve acquired as well. But armed with the right knowledge, you cannot be caught unawares.
At MKH, our properties are well titled and serve as profitable investment platforms for you to take advantage of. Let us guide you on how to make the best investments and get the returns you desire. You can contact us here for more details.