Buying land in Nigeria is one of the common property law transactions, which is administered by various legislation depending on the jurisdiction in Nigeria. Conveyance, as it is known, is the process by which ownership of land is transferred between a seller and a buyer. This can include both residential and commercial land transactions.
Thus the most common way of proving ownership of a land is the production of a document of grant or title. This method entails providing any of the following document; Deed of Assignment/ conveyance, a Deed of gift, a legal Mortgage, and a Certificate of Occupancy. As such it is important that a person intending to buy a land must make sure to instruct his lawyer to perfect the title of the land or property.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR LAND PURCHASE IN NIGERIA.
During the process of purchasing a land, there a number of crucial documents required from the seller in order to effectively validate the transaction. These documents are necessary as they are evident of title which the buyer possesses in relation to the land. It is important to note that there are different types of land documents in Nigeria. These documents include:
i. Approved survey plan:This is an important title document that helps to reveal the true ownership status in any land and landed properties’ transactions. It also helps to reveal if such land is not under any government acquired or committed lands/area.
ii. Approved layout
iii.Deed of assignment: This is a very important document that must be demanded and given to a purchaser after the conclusion of any land/property transaction between such purchaser/buyer and the owner/seller of the land/landed property in question. Section 2(v) of the Conveyancing Act 1881 provides the definition of conveyance as follows: “A conveyance includes any assignment, appointment, lease, settlement and other assurances and covenants to surrender made by deed of sale, mortgage, demise or settlement of any property or on any other dealing with or for any property; and convey, unless a contrary intention appears, has a meaning corresponding with that of conveyance”.
iv. Purchase receipt: this is the evidence of due payment of the purchase of the land and it is usually required when registering the land.
v. Certificate of Occupancy: this is one of the most important land title documents that is used to certify the legal ownership status of any land in Nigeria irrespective of its usage. It is usually delivered to the owner of a parcel of land by the government attesting to the owner’s interest to the land where such interest is in accordance with the applicable laws. It is a legal document indicating that a person who has acquired an interest in land has been granted a statutory right of occupancy by the governor
vi. Power of attorney: this is usually required where a person is acting for another person, individuals or companies as his agent. It is a document that authorizes such person to act on their behalf.
These documents are essential as they are necessary to process a search in the land registry, the registration of title, registration of Deeds, as well as registration of Certificate of Occupancy. It is equally important to note the LEGAL CONSEQUENCES OF REGISTRATION OF LAND IN NIGERIA which is essentially three:
Non-registration may (i) render certain documents void, (ii) render them inadmissible as evidence in judicial proceedings, and (iii) make them lose priority against registered ones affecting the same land.
It must, of course, be noted that registration does not by itself cure the instrument( legal document) registered of any defect, nor does it confers upon it any effect or validity which the instrument, apart from the registration, would not otherwise have had.