There are major step by step guide on property acquisition in Nigeria. A key step is to get an honest real estate company to guide you through the whole process of property acquisition in Nigeria. The next step is to engage a Solicitor who can conduct verification of the title of proposed property and whether same is either committed or under acquisition or encumbered. Some investors have acquired properties that have landed them in the Court of law to resolve disputes.
We have various methods of acquiring property in Nigeria. The common ways of acquiring property in Nigeria are as follows:
a). Probate/ Letter of Administration
A probate is a Court ordered process where the will of a testator is validated. It is the authority a beneficiary has to assume ownership of any gift or properties granted in the will. The Will alone cannot convey title in a real estate to a beneficiary, it is only after the probate has been applied for and obtained that the beneficiaries can have unlimited access to the gifts granted in the will.
The Letter of Administration is the authority given to an Administrator to administer, manage or distribute the properties of a deceased person who died without a will.
A gift is a voluntary act of giving something without compensation. A gift need not be in writing. However, in order to avoid contentions in future, it is often preferable to execute a Deed of Gift.
For a Deed of Gift to be valid, the gift must be made voluntarily i.e. without coercion or fraud. The grantor must not receive compensation for the gift he or she has granted because if compensation is received, it will become a sale and not a gift, the beneficiary must accept the gift.
c). Sale of Real Estate
This is a common method of property acquisition as it involves the transfer of the entire rights, title and interest in a land or building from the vendor to the purchaser for valuable consideration.
Documents required in property acquisition in Nigeria
In acquiring a property in Nigeria, there are documents required when acquiring the property:
- Approved Survey Plan – this document provides the buyer with information on the actual location and boundaries of a property. It also reveals whether the land is under any government acquisition or not.
- Deed of Assignment – the Deed of Assignment is a document used to transfer an interest in a property from one person to another.
- Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) – the CofO certifies the legal ownership status of any land or property in Nigeria irrespective of its use.
- Governor’s Consent – this is the approval of a state governor by himself or through the designated commissioner to any property transfer.
Step by step guide on Property Acquisition in Nigeria
This step-by-step guide on Property acquisition in Nigeria will be divided into pre-contract stage, contract stage, post contract stage, completion stage and post completion stage.
- Pre-contract stage. This is the stage where the purchaser physically inspects the property. He/she wants to purchase to ascertain whether the property fits the description given by the vendor and to whether the property is in conformity with planning laws and other relevant laws in Nigeria
- Contract stage. This involves negotiation of terms and conditions of the sale such as price, obligations of the parties. A formal contract is drafted at this stage.
- Post-contract stage. This is the stage where the purchaser does a thorough investigation on the title of the property. This involves carrying out searches on the property at relevant places/government agencies (for example, Ministry/Bureau of lands) to ascertain the authenticity of the Vendor’s title.
- Completion stage. This is the conclusion of the sale and purchase of the property. At this stage, the purchaser makes complete payment for the property and the Vendor executes and hands over all original copies of the property’s title documents thereby conferring the entire title and interest on the property to the purchaser.
- Post-completion stage. The purchaser is required to perfect their title to the property. This is done by registering the title at the relevant land registry in Nigeria.
Acquiring a property in Nigeria connotes various legal requirements and key procedures to be followed. it is essential to involve a Solicitor when one intends to acquire a property in Nigeria, as the responsibilities and roles of a Solicitor concerning acquiring property are all-encompassing.
Written by Olufe Popoola for The Trusted Advisors
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