Facts About Land Title
A parcel of land or property without a Certificate of Occupancy is as good as owning a vehicle without a logbook. This is not the kind of situation you want to find yourself as a landowner or property owner in Nigeria and especially in the Federal Capital territory where rules are upheld to the last fibre of implementation.
What is certificate of occupancy (C of O)
Certificate of Occupancy, also known as the C of O is a document issued by state governments in Nigeria to landowners and property buyers as a legitimate proof of ownership. This document also spells out what the land can be used for; residential, commercial or mixed development. It can also be interpreted as an instrument prepared at the Land Registry, signed by the Minister (or the Governor, in the case of any state of the Federation), registered in the Land Registry and given to the holder of a Right of Occupancy in evidence of a grant.
The FCT Minister is acting on delegated powers of the President by virtue of Section 18 of the FCT Act. Therefore, under the delegated powers of the President, the Minister can allocate and administer land within the FCT in line with the provisions of the law. Apart from the Minister, no one has the authority to allocate land in the FCT.
What is a Right of Occupancy (R of O)?
It is the right granted to an individual or corporate organization over a plot or parcel of land in an approved government layout. The right is for a stipulated period of time. Normally, a maximum of 99 years lease is granted for residential purpose, while other uses range from 35 to 70 years depending on the value of improvements.
The right granted is the right to use the land for a period of time stipulated in the offer. Upon expiration of the lease period, the land and the improvement on it revert to Government. It is expected that a holder of a right of occupancy might have enjoyed whatever investment he might have made on the plot of land at the expiration of the lease period (i.e. 35, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 99 years as the case may be.) There is however a provision for a re-grant. A holder may upon expiration of the initial grant/ lease term apply for a re-grant, of the Right of Occupancy and the Government has discretion in considering such applications. Right of Occupancy R of O is just an offer while a C of O certificate of occupancy is certified right of your ownership of the said land.
R of O is a weaker title to land and also vulnerable while C of O is a superior title and secured. R of O could be revoked without compensation while C of O is compensated for. It is very important to perfect your land title to C of O after an offer of R of O is given to you, that is why most land buyers are very concerned on the title as a C of O usually attracts a higher value. When given an offer of R of O, a premium sum is attached to the offer to be paid for perfection to C of O.
A title document or statutory Right of Occupancy can be revoked for overriding Public interest. It can be revoked on the account of contravention of any or all of the terms of the right of occupancy. A right of occupancy could also be liable for revocation for failure or neglect on the part of the allottee to pay and obtain the new certificate of occupancy