Acquisition of property in Nigeria is a very broad subject, this text will limit it as much as possible to the basic but important things which the general public should be aware of.
Right to Acquire Property
Every citizen of Nigeria has a right to acquire and own immovable property in Nigeria by virtue of Section 43 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Immoveable property, as the term implies, is property which is itself immoveable such as land and the structures or things attached to the land. Example, Trees, Buildings, borehole, etc.
Under Nigerian law, by virtue of Section 1 of the Land Use Act, all landed property in a state is owned by the Governor of that state who holds it in trust for the citizens. This is why one must acquire governor’s consent upon acquisition of property through conveyance.
Ways to Acquire Property in Nigeria
Acquisition of property can be achieved through various means such as
- Customary grant of Property,
- Gift of land,
Inheritance or Devolution
- Sale of Land
For the purpose of this work, only sale of land, being the most popularly practiced means, will be treated while we briefly touch on the other forms of land acquisition.
Customary Grant of Property
Here, the is land is owned as a community and administered in accordance with the customs of the people. Communal ownership is one form of customary grant of property.
Gift of Land
Here, land is gifted to another. A gift is outright and needs no compensation under the law.
Inheritance or Devolution
This is a popular form of land acquisition. According to customs and traditions, children inherit the property or properties of their father. This is usually shared among the children at the death of their father. Once this is done in accordance with the customs and traditions of the people, transfer of land will be said to have taken place and it is recognised under Nigerian law.
Sale of Land
Sale of land which is actually conveyance of remaining interest in land is the transfer of remaining interest of the owner of the property who is called the vendor to the intending buyer, called the purchaser.
Where you wish to acquire a property, here are things you should know and do:
Conduct a Land Search
A land search can be conducted at the land registry through a lawyer. This will give you all the needed details about the property like: who the actual owner of the property is, the actual dimension of the property, the history of the property, if there is any dispute over the property, etc so as to make a well informed decision with regards to the purchase of the property and avoid issues in the future.
It is advised that you pay a visit to the site and inspect the property for yourself or have a lawyer do it for you, to observe the physical appearance and thus quality of the property, to ensure there are no trespassers and to know the physical state of the property
Read Through Your Agreement
In the business of purchase of landed property, the parties to the agreement would be required to sign two documents, a sale of land agreement, at first and eventually a deed of conveyance. These documents contain the terms of the sale of the property and must be analysed critically by parties involved as the agreements, once they are signed are binding on both parties. Both parties must critically peruse the document and make adjustments accordingly or better yet have a lawyer do this on their behalf.
Registration of Document
After you conclude the agreement and all the necessary documents are signed and exchanged, you must register your deed of conveyance at the land registry and by that I mean, pay stamp duties and acquire Governor’s consent in order for your acquisition of the property to be official, in the records of the government and be considerable by a court of law in the event of a dispute. You can also have a lawyer do this for you, in fact, you can have a lawyer handle the entire process on your behalf which would be in your best interest as they are equipped with the knowledge and skill required to do so properly.
Note that where you do not register your deed of conveyance after your purchase, your purchase would not be in the government’s records and as such you stand the risk of losing the property in the event that the person who sold it to you sells it to another person who then registers his purchase.
Finally, be sure to keep the title documents to the property under proper care and be sure to involve a lawyer for proper guidance to avoid stories that touch.
Written by; Mbachu Chinenye .V.
Facebook: Mbachu Chinenye