What you should know before investing in landed property

Land can be classified as either free or acquired. A parcel of land is considered free if the government has not indicated any interest whatsoever in that land. Such land is safe to buy because the title on the land can be perfected without issues. In most cases, such land will either have a
1. Gazette,
2. A Certificate of Occupancy or
3. A Governor’s consent.
Land that falls within areas that are designated as ‘urban areas’ is under government acquisition until deemed committed or free.

There are two types of acquisition:

1. COMMITTED ACQUISITION
A parcel of land is said to be under committed acquisition when the government has indicated an intention to use that land for a specific purpose such as the provision of amenities. Such land belongs to the government and can never be available for use by individuals. If you purchase land that is under committed acquisition, it will be impossible for you to perfect your land title and you will only be occupying the land until the government comes to kick you out.

2. GLOBAL (OR GENERAL) ACQUISITION
Lands that are under “general acquisition” or “global acquisition” can later be confirmed ‘free’ or “committed” as the case may be. A land under general acquisition can become free either Excision or Ratification (Regularization).

‘Excision’ is a process whereby the government releases a portion of an expanse of land that is not ‘committed.’ If a parcel of land that was formerly under acquisition becomes excised, it is then considered free and becomes gazetted. The Gazette then becomes the title on the land and such land is safe to buy because a proper title can be processed on the land.

“Ratification” (or “Regularization”) is where the land owner pays for the land to be approved or sanctioned by the government. The only condition is that the land in question must not fall within a committed area and that the purpose for which the land was bought does not disrupt the original plan of the State.

*DEED OF ASSIGNMENTS*
Most people have the title documents to their cars intact and in safe places but fail to ask for the Deed of Assignment to their properties which is several times more valuable than cars

A Deed of Assignment is one of the transactional document drawn up by a Real Estate Attorney between the current title holder for a particular property (the Assignor) and the new buyer. In Real Estate transactions, a Deed of Assignment is a legal document that transfers the interest of the owner to the person to whom it is assigned (the Assignee). When ownership is transferred, the Deed of Assignment shows the new legal owner of the property.

The Deed of Assignment contains very pertinent information for a Real Estate transaction. It spells out the date when the ownership of the property transfers from one owner to the other. It also gives a specific description of the property that is included in the transfer of ownership, as well as the traditional history.

It is very compulsory and mandatory for a Deed of Assignment document to be recorded at the appropriate Land Registry to show legal evidence as to the exchange of ownership in any land/landed property transaction in order to make the general public and government aware of such exchange or transaction. Any recorded Deed of Assignment at the appropriate land registry will be authenticated in form of either a Governor’s Consent or Registered Conveyance after it has been stamped at the Stamp Duties office.

The following documents are usually involved when a Land purchase is made.

(1) The Deed of Assignment (2) The Contract of Sale (3) The Purchase Receipt
(4) The Survey Plan (5) Any other Title Document that may apply.

Each of these documents can come at separate times in the transaction process. The seller signs all documents when the transaction is complete and hands over the documents to the buyer.

*SURVEY PLAN*
A Survey Plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. The people that handle survey issues are Surveyors and they are regulated by the office of the Surveyor General. It must contain the following information: (1) The name of the owner of the land surveyed (2) The address or description of the land surveyed (3) The size of the land surveyed (4) The drawn-out portion of the land survey and mapped out on the survey plan document (5) The beacon numbers (6) The surveyor who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up (7)A stamp showing the land is either free from Government acquisition or not

*EXCISION*
An Excision means basically taking apart 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 compensation, even if it was bought “legitimately” from the ‘Baale’ or the original dwellers on the land.

*GAZETTE*
A Gazette is an Official record book where all special government details pertaining to land 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 can only sell land to an individual within those areas that have been excised to them. Also the community or family head of that land has the right to sign your documents if you purchase land within those excised acres or hectares. If the government, for any reason, decides to revoke or acquire your land, you will be entitled to compensation as long as it is within the Excised land 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 and confirm whether it falls within the Gazette, and spell out which particular location it can be found.

*CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY*
A Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued by the Lagos State Government officially leased Lagos land to you, the applicant, for 99 yrs. All land belong to the Government. The first person on a virgin land that has never been occupied and not under acquisition by the Government is entitled to get a Certificate of Occupancy on that land.

*GOVERNOR’S CONSENT*
If a person with the C of O decides to sell his land to another person, the buyer must obtain the Consent of the Governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the Government. If the new buyer now decides to sell the land again to a third owner, that third owner must also obtain a new Consent of the Governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the Government. This process continues every time the property exchange hands. In other words, the first person on a land is the only person or group of persons entitled to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. Every subsequent buyer of that land must get a Governor’s consent. There can only be one (1) Owner of the Certificate of Occupancy on that Land and it will not be replicated for another person once the land has been sold or transferred to another person.

The powers of the Governor to Consent to such transactions can be found in Section 22. Of the *LAND USE ACT 1978* as amended. The Governor of a State can delegate the power of Consent to any member of his cabinet.

It is very important for a purchaser of land to perfect his or her document by obtaining a Governors Consent so as to have complete rest of mind. An advantage of having a Governor’s consent is that you can transfer your land to another person without going to the community touts (’Omo-oniles’) or ‘Family Baale’ to sign your Deed and Form 1c, which are compulsory requirements needed before you can process Governor’s Consent. Do you now see why Certificate of Occupancy is not the ultimate?

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *