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The riskiest cities to buy land in Nigeria are Lagos and Abuja. Risk may also be involved in other locations, but it higher in Nigeria’s commercial city and the Federal Capital territory (FCT).
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This guide can also be applied in investigating land titles in any part of Nigeria. We are specifically focusing on Lagos because a lot of unsuspecting real estate investors have lost millions of Nigeria in the process of buying land in the city.
This happens when the buyers either failed to verify the authenticity of a property or they don’t fall to fake land documents that were presented to them.
What is a title investigation?
This is a procedure your conveyancer will use to verify the seller of a property is legitimately able to transfer good title to a buyer by carefully reviewing the title deeds.
Let’s get started…
Searching and verifying a land title at the Land Registry in Lagos State is a multi-step process. The overarching goal of a land verification is to ascertain whether or not the land in question has a good root of title and, if not, to uncover any faults in the title of the property.
So, how can I verify land titles in Lagos?
These steps entail searching and investigating the following locations, among many others that may be relevant to a given land transaction, as part of your due diligence:
- Finding records in the Land Registry of Lagos State.
- Confirming a survey at the Lagos State Surveyor’s office.
- Lookup at the Commission for Corporate Affairs (CAC).
The purpose of the research is to determine whether or not the land has a good title and whether or not there are any defects in the title.
Once the purchaser’s attorney receives the title, he or she is responsible for determining the authenticity of the papers.
Land registration in Nigeria is required by law, however it is common knowledge that this does nothing to remedy any problems with an existing title (Omosanya v. Anifowoshe 1959), as cited in a Law Journal
Therefore, land title research should take precedence over registration. For his client’s benefit, a buyer’s lawyer must examine the property’s title for any flaws.
In this article, we will quickly go over the ways in which you can verify land in Lagos State and do a search at the Land Registry.
Effective Ways To verify Property in Lagos
There is a popular saying in Lagos, “shine your eyes” which translates to be vigilant. Do you know that not everyone who parade themselves as land owners or agents in Lagos are really are?
Before property from anyone in Lagos, you have to conduct a property search by using one of combining several methods of verifying property in the city.
The effective ones are:
Checking Out the Land in Person
Physical inspection is crucial and should not be underestimated. Typically, the buyer’s lawyer and a surveyor will do this together.
If the precise property to be purchased has already been determined, the purpose of the physical inspection is to validate the exact description and size of the property.
Even if you are in London, USA or any part of the world and you saw a property you are interested in, if you can delegate a trusted friend, you can fix the inspection till when you come visiting.
A gathering of family members, usually with the head of the family or the mayor of the town present, to establish the provenance of the land’s title and ownership, and to determine whether or not the land is held in communal ownership.
If there is traditional tussle between parties in the family, exercise caution because one party who is a likely loser might go on to sell land that belongs to the entire family.
If the tussle had been sorted out by court, if possible, ask for judgement papers. Property lawyers know how to check judgment paper if it’s original or not.
Finding out if the land is free of other claims
In order to discourage potential buyers from purchasing land that is already encumbered, even if the land is otherwise undeveloped, warning signs such as “Buyer beware” or “Caveat emptor” may be placed on the property. This would also show whether or not if there is a legal battle over the land.
In-person review of the paperwork
The purpose of this review is to establish who the legal landowner or owners are.
The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether or not all required documentation has been submitted, as well as to trace the land’s lineage and verify the legitimacy of the submitted paperwork.
Search at the Probate Registry
This is crucial when the land was left to the seller in a will. In order to verify the legitimacy of the Letter of Administration or Probate and the identity of the actual administrators or executors of the estate, a check of the probate registry is required.
Within the High Court of States is where you may find the probate registers, a property lawyer says.
Carry out a check with the State Land Board
Alausa, Ikeja is the location of the Lagos State land register and the office of the Surveyor General. A search of the land registry and the Surveyor-office General’s can reveal the genuine property owners and any claims against the land.
The land registry can only be used to look up registered properties. The Surveyor General’s office will chart any piece of land, whether or not it is officially recognized.
A thorough investigation like this will disclose the property’s rightful owner and the government’s current standing in regards to acquiring the land.
If the land is registered, it will also show if there are any mortgages, liens, or other encumbrances on the property, as well as verify the authenticity of the seller’s title documents.
How is title proved in unregistered land?
In the absence of a land registry, the original deeds are the only tangible evidence of property ownership.
These include records that go back at least 15 years and detail every transaction involving the property.
A buyer’s conveyancer needs copies of these documents so they may investigate the property’s title
How do you prove ownership without deeds?
proving your right to apply for a loan by submitting records showing that you are the legal owner of the property in question.
You may need to provide evidence such as a death certificate, probate paperwork, a transfer letter, a letter of conveyance, a mortgage statement, or a bill for services in order to prove your case.
How do you claim ownership of unregistered land?
These are the terms under which you can assert your right to the property: If the land is untitled, the claimant(s) must prove that they have lived on it for 12 years without the permission of the rightful owner. There is no application process required.
How do you know if land is free from government acquisition?
A sample of a Land Information Certificate that says the land is safe and cannot be taken over by the government.
If the site is suitable, you will see that it is classified for either Residential or Mixed Development. This means you may breathe a sigh of relief.
Can you claim land that’s not yours?
When someone wants to claim ownership of land that’s not theirs, it is called Adverse Possession, says Timms Solicitors.
The law firm continues, “To claim Adverse Possession, you would need to make an application to the Land Registry. The Land Registry have a strict set of criteria you must meet before you can claim land you do not own.”
What happens when land is not registered?
Adverse Possession, also known as “Squatter’s Rights,” is the legal right to use all or a portion of an unregistered property without the consent of, or payment to, the legal owner.
This right can be claimed if the intruder has continuously used the property for at least 12 years without any interference from the legal owner.
Another effective way to verify a land title is to check if the land owned by companies registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act require an additional search at the Corporate Affairs Commission in addition to the standard search at the land registry.
This will help to ascertain whether or not the corporation is subject to any floating or fixed charges that may damage the property’s title.
If you are an intending buyer looking to buy land or landed property in Lagos or anywhere else in Nigeria, it is recommended that you conduct land search to ascertain the authenticity of the property you about to invest in.
Whether you are buying a completed apartment in the expensive locations or affordable areas of Lagos, it is very important to look out for red flags that may lead to a loss.
A potential buyer can use this information to safeguard themselves against purchasing a home with a tainted title. Therefore, before buying any land in Nigeria, a thorough search and investigation are essential.