What You Need To Perfect Your Title To Land In Nigeria, By Kaine Agary

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By virtue of the Land Use Act of 1978, all land belongs to the government. Urban land is under the control of the state governor and non-urban land is under the control of the local governments. In the FCT, the Minister of the FCT gives consent and the Minister of Housing gives consent for federal lands.

Certain land transactions must be given the relevant consent for the transactions to be valid. Transfer of interest in land such as a sale, must have consent of the relevant authorities. In practice, the person giving away their interest in the land (the seller) gives the person gaining the interest (the purchaser), a power of attorney, giving the buyer the power to deal with the land. However, stopping at a power of attorney leaves the transaction incomplete. For the transaction to be complete, the title being transferred must be perfected. By law, the person responsible for perfecting the title is the seller, but in practice, it is the buyer who perfects his title.

Perfecting title to land involves 3 steps:

  1. Obtaining the relevant consent;
  2. Stamping, which is essentially a duty tax paid on the value of the transaction; and
  3. Registration of the transaction in the land registry.

What you will need to process the Governor’s consent: This may vary from state to state, but essentially, you will need:

  1. A completed application for consent
  2. A covering letter for the application
  3. 3 years tax clearance certificate of the parties involved in the transaction
  4. Original copy of the deed of conveyance duly executed by the parties
  5. Evidence of payment of all rates and charges on the land (ground rent for non-developed land, or tenement rate/land use charge for developed land) – this will vary from state to state.
  6. Receipt for payment of relevant fees (consent fee, charting fee, endorsement fee, etc)
  7. Additional requirements if any of the parties is a company:
    • CTC of the company’s certificate of incorporation
    • CTC of the company’s memorandum and articles of association
    • CTC of the company’s CAC form 1.1 (old form 7) with particulars of the first directors of the company
    • Tax clearance certificate of at least 2 of the directors of the company
    • PAYE certificate of the company

There are fees associated with each stage of perfecting title to land so it may be tempting to avoid the process. However, the purchaser only has an equitable interest in the land if the title is not perfected. When the title is perfected, then he gets the legal interest. The problem with an equitable interest is that it runs the risk of losing priority against a legal interest subsequently obtained bona fide. Furthermore, where the conveyance instrument is not registered, it is not admissible as evidence of title to the property. Not perfecting the title to land may also affect how much the land can be exploited, for instance, some institutions may not accept the land as security for a loan.

 

– Ms Agary trained as a lawyer

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