Buying a property can be very tricky. This is true even for experienced real estate agents. There’s so much you need to double-check on, and a need to constantly be on the lookout for red flags throughout the transaction process.
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Things are a bit easier if you know what you should expect—such as the documents involved in the transfer of property from one party to the other. This knowledge helps you avoid a lot of pitfalls, including the risk of being swindled by con men posing as property dealers.
The documents we’re referring to here are called land titles. They indicate ownership of the land and are either reviewed by or handed over to the buyer when he or she purchases the land.
If you intend to buy land in Lagos, here are eight documents relevant to the process of acquiring property in the state that you should be aware of.
Certificate Of Occupancy (C of O)
The Certificate of Occupancy is proof of land ownership. It’s issued by the state government and essentially grants the holder ownership of land for 99 years, per the Land Use Act. The Certificate of Occupancy is the most important title document in Nigeria.
Right Of Occupancy (R of O)
The Right of Occupancy indicates that the holder has a legal right to occupy or use land. But it doesn’t confirm that they own the land. The R of O is generally regarded as a ‘weaker’ document compared to the C of O as far as the land transfer process is concerned.
Deed Of Assignment
A Deed of Assignment is proof of an agreement between the previous landowner (assignor) and the buyer (assignee) which confirms that the assignor has promised to transfer ownership of the land to the assignee.
This document should contain the date on which the transfer is to be made, the nature of the transaction, and the names of the parties involved, among other things. Be sure to ask the seller for a Deed of Assignment after you have concluded the transaction.
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Deed Of Lease
The Deed of Lease indicates that a landowner has leased their land to another party. It is documentation of a contract between the owner and the leasee, which is provided to the latter after both parties have signed an Agreement of Lease.
Deed Of Sub-Lease
This document confirms the subletting of property by a leasee (i.e. party to whom the property has been leased) to a third party. It functions as a sort of rental agreement; the third party is effectively a tenant.
Deed Of Mortgage
The Deed of Mortgage shows that a property has been transferred by its owner to a lending institution as security for a loan. The deed of mortgage should contain information about both parties involved in this deal.
A survey plan details the measurements, boundaries, and descriptions for land. It also reveals whether the land has been acquired by the government or not.
The gazette belongs in a different category from the other items listed here. That’s because it’s an official government record. It contains information about communities that have been granted excision (i.e. have been given ownership rights over their native lands) by the government.
Communities that have an excision can sell their property to buyers, and buyers are entitled to compensation if the government later decides to take over the property.
The land titles listed here are not all equally important. Some, like the C of O, are almost always required. Some of the others only matter in specific kinds of situations. But if you’re conversant with all of them, you’ll find it easier to navigate the land acquisition process in Lagos State.
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