7 important legal documents required for
property purchase

By OBINNA

There are always documents involved in every business transaction carried out especially the ones involving money. Real estate transactions are no different. These documents serve as proof that a business transaction took place. The most common business document is a receipt which indicates that money was paid into an account or paid to someone. These documents secure one’s investments and make it possible to plead a case peradventure there is any dispute.
The nature of land disputes in Nigeria makes it extremely important that you have all relevant documents regarding ownership of a land or property. These titled documents are recognized by various government statues and laws on land and landed properties. Having all the documents required for a land purchase will help make your ownership legitimate after proper verification from the appropriate government agencies in charge of all land and land related issues in Nigeria.

Here are the documents required to make a land purchase in Nigeria:

Deed of assignment

The deed of assignment is the document that shows that you are the new owner of the land. It is always worrisome to see people buy land and not ask for this document. It is a very important document that you should of a necessity request that it be given to you at the end of the land or property transaction.
It is often time referred to as deed of conveyance however conveyance refers to the process where the seller transfers ownership of the land or property to the buyer. It is a mutual agreement between the owner of the land and the buyer. While the deed of assignment is a signed agreement where an assignor (Seller or owner) states his consent that from the date of the assignment (purchase) or any date stipulated therein, he assigns his ownership of that Land to the assignee (buyer).
The deed of assignment contains some very crucial information for a land/property transaction. Such as the date the ownership was transferred to the assignee and a clear description of the property or land.
Once you have the deed of assignment it is very mandatory that you go record it at the appropriate land registry to serve as legal evidence to the real estate transaction. At the land registry, the deed of assignment will then be stamped at the stamp duties office before it becomes authenticated in the form of a governor’s consent or registered conveyance.

Survey plan

This is a document that clearly delineates the boundaries, the length and breadth of the property or land purchased. It gives accurate measurements and description of that land. It also helps to reveal if the land is under Government’s acquisition or not or whether the land is in a Government acquired or committed area.
Simply put, with a survey plan, you’ll be able to know everything about the land. It is important you request for this document BEFORE you buy the land. Request that a copy be given you so you can take it to a surveyor to help you cross check the document as well as confirm that what’s on paper is the same thing on land.
The survey plan would also help you know the purposes for the land, whether it is for residential, agricultural or commercial purposes.
A survey plan should have the following:

The name of the owner of the land surveyed.
The Address or description of the land surveyed.
The size of the land surveyed.
The drawn out portion of the land survey and mapped out on the survey plan document.
The beacon numbers.
The surveyor who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up.
A stamp showing the land is either free from Government acquisition or not

With the survey plan, you can do a proper land search and know about everything concerning the parcel of land. ALWAYS request for a survey plan BEFORE you make a purchase.

Certificate of occupancy

This document certifies the legal ownership status of any property or land in Nigeria. It signifies that the owner of the property has been given legal permission to occupy the property by the executive governor of that state.

A certificate of occupancy is given to owners of lands or properties situated in urban areas, if the property is situated in a rural area; a customary right of occupancy is given by the local government council.

A certificate of occupancy is a land title document issued by the government validating the owner’s right to ownership of a parcel of land for a period of 99 years. However, some lands or properties for sale already come with a C of O, in that Case, Endeavour to ask for it. If your land or property does not come with a C of O, ensure you get one.

Receipt

This is a document that proves money was exchanged in the real estate transaction. Without this document, there is no way one can proof that money was involved. It shows that the seller acknowledges that he or she received payment for the land or property.

People often make a big mistake of thinking a deed of assignment is the same as a receipt. They are NOT the same. A receipt validates monetary payment while a deed of assignment validates ownership.

A real estate purchase that does not have receipt as evidence of transaction becomes untraceable in times of problem. No one is wishing evil to anyone but then these things do happen, that’s why it’s best you have all relevant document regarding the purchase of a land/property.

 

Excision

Before now the traditional families have so much power when it comes to anything concerning land, they are the ones who determine which land will be sold and which one they will keep.

Because of this super power they have on land, they refuse to sell lands to individuals who need it, but give it out to them under tenancy system and which made them to still have full control over that land.

This made it very difficult for anyone who wants to buy land to get one.

Because of this and some other reasons, it finally led to the proclamation of the Land Use Decree (now Act) on the 28th of March, 1978 that vested all lands in every state of the Federation under the control of the State Governors.

The Land Use Act coupled with other laws made it possible for the Governor who is now the owner of all lands in the state to actually have the power to acquire more lands compulsorily for its own public purpose to provide amenities for the greater good of the citizens.

Fortunately, the government still recognizes that indigenes of different sections of the country have a right to existence . . . a right to the land of their birth. Hence, it is customary for state government to cede a portion of land to the original owners (natives) of each area.

So an Excision simply means taking a part from a whole and that part that has been excised, will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state.

In other words, not having an excision means the land could be seized by the Government anytime without compensating you even if you bought it “Legitimately” from the Baale or the Original dwellers on the land.

Hope you understand why this land document is very important before you buy any land. Because it is with this land document that you know if the Land is FREE or Under Government Acquisition.

 

Gazette

According to the Land Use Act all land belongs to the government so the Governor is the owner of all land even the one in your village, and he alone will determine what to do with the land not even your Igwe, Oba or Emir.

So it is only when the Governor has taken the land he want to use that he give the remaining to the traditional family to do whatever they want to do with it.

A good example is what happened in Oniru, before now there was nothing like Victoria Island Ikoyi and Lekki the whole area put together was formally known as one big community called Oniru and it has an approximate total area square meters estimate of 100,000 square meters and the government was interested in that area and decided to take 70,000 square meters for its self for its own personal use as an Urban Area or public purpose, it will record this acquisition in the official government gazette and also record that the remaining 30,000 square meters has been left alone for the traditional family to have and do with it whatever it pleases it to do.

So A Gazette is an Official record book where all special government details are spelt out, detailed and recorded. A Gazette will show the communities or villages that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given to them.

It is within those excised acres or hectares that the traditional family is entitled to sell its lands to the public and not anything outside those hectares of land given or excised to them

A Gazette is a very powerful instrument the community owns and can replace a Certificate of Occupancy to grant title to the Villagers.

A community owning a gazette as a land document can only sell lands to an individual within those lands that have been excised to them and the community or family head of that land has the right to sign your documents for you if you purchase lands within those excised acres or hectares of land.

If the government based on some reasons best known to them decides to revoke or acquire your land, you will be entitled to compensation as long as it’s within the Excised lands given to that community.

The best way to know whether a land is under acquisition or has an excision that has been covered by a Gazette is to get a surveyor to chart the site and take it to the surveyor general’s office to do a land information search so as to confirm whether it falls within the gazette and spell out which particular location it can be found.

The Following Are Features of a Gazette:

  1. The first page of a Gazette must have the following unless it is a dubious or fake Gazette
    a. The Logo of the Country and the inscription of the title “LAGOS STATE OF NIGERIA OFFICIAL GAZETTE”
    b. Underneath it must have the Number, Volume, Page, Date and the Location it was signed into law e.g No 26 in pages 200 to 291, Volume 87 dated 14th of August 2011 and have the contents of the list of the Villages, Settlements and parcels of land excised back to the community.
  2. The Inner pages will show the following:
    a. The description of the Area or Village excised
    b. The number of Acres or Hectares of land excised to the Village
    c. Where the boundaries of the beacons start and stop
    d. The page the description of the Village excised is.

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