Certificate Of Ownership (C of O) and the five most important documents for genuine landed properties

Did you know about CofO?

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You may risk losing your landed properties to the government or individuals if you don’t have the necessary documents to back your land ownership. However, among many other common land documents, the Certificate of Ownership (C of O) is a very vital document that grants you access to own landed property in Nigeria for 99years.

In 2021, over 500,000 land scams occurred in Lagos alone due to fake property documents, among many others. This shows the frequency of land and real estate fraud in Nigeria. Vital documents like the CofO can help you avoid falling victim when acquiring lands or properties in Nigeria. This content highlights other important documents besides the Certificate of Ownership (C of O).

Brief History of land buying and documentation

In the past, buying land was relatively easy. All you had to do was find out who owned the land and go to them with a bottle of schnapps and some money you deemed fit. On some occasions, the land is immediately given to you on sighting the schnapps. In those days, there was no survey or means of measuring grounds. Hence some owners measured the distance to give out by throwing a stone to mark the demarcations

Today, buying land in most of Nigeria’s major cities is not an easy task. Several fraudulent practices make it hard to purchase real-landed properties. Many individuals who parade as estate agents also easily make it difficult to buy land.

In Nigeria today, one major step you need to take to get a land of your choice before checking for the C of O and other necessary documents is to check if the lands are not under government acquisition. Checking this fact before purchase is as necessary as a physical inspection of the land area to determine if the property is as described.

When all these settles, and you can ascertain that the land is free of government acquisition and any hassles, you and the seller can go ahead to complete and sign the Deed of Assignment. After this, you pay for the land.

Some other important documents you need to see before getting land or while getting the land include true copies of the vendor’s title, survey plan, documents showing the payment of the charting fee, and an endorsement fee. 

Documents such as the Government’s consent,  registration of the Deed and title conferred, the land purchase receipts, and other evidence of payment are also important.

Read 7 Important Land documents you should know before you buy property in Nigeria.

Certificate of Ownership (C of O)

The Certificate of Ownership, popularly called C of O, is the first document on our list of essential documents property buyers and landowners must have. The state governments issue the document in Nigeria. This document is necessary because it is an important document that verifies that you own the land or property in question and guarantees the safety of the land from the government.

A Certificate of Ownership is also known as a certificate of Occupancy. This document is also vital because the Government has the right to seize any plot of land or property without a C of O. No compensation will be paid over any land without a C of O if seized by the government.

Another reason the certificate of occupancy is essential is that it helps establish that a landed property or building is in good condition. This is according to the law. C of O is also essential to sell land or to close a property mortgage.

Also, there’s a particular feature that makes a Certificate of Occupancy stand out in Nigeria: Lands cannot be given two Certificates of Occupancy because it is the first title document issued on land, whether the land is developed or not.

The C of O often contains the following information: 

  • Certificate of Occupancy number
  • File number
  • Plot number
  • Location details
  • Plot size
  • Survey plan 
  • Date of issue
  • Lease term
  • Land use purpose and a few others.

After confirming that you are dealing with the exact land owner, if the land has a CofO, you only need to change the ownership title at the land registry. 

Obtaining a C of O for State-Owned Land is straightforward. As an applicant, you should get a form from the Ministry (Land Use and Allocation Section) and submit the application form with the required documents and signatures. 

The Deputy Registrar signs and sends the file to the Registrar of Titles for final registration. 

Would you want us to handle the processing of C of O for you? Get in touch with us today.

Deed of Assignment

In Nigeria, a Deed of Assignment is a document that transfers ownership of land or property from one party to the other. The seller of a Deed of Assignment is the assignor, and the buyer is the assignee. There has to be an agreement between a buyer and seller for a transaction to be successful. 

A Deed of Assignment also transfers the interest and title of a property from one party to another. A Deed of Assignment usually contains the following details:

  • The names and contacts of those involved in the transaction.
  • The day they transferred the property from the vendor to the buyer.
  • Description/ specifications of the property to be sold.
  • The History of the property and documentation.
  • The amount of money paid in a property transaction (buy price) and 
  • The parties’ signatures, as well as the signatures of the witnesses to the transaction, are also necessary.
  • A lawyer who prepared the Deed.
  • The governor’s signature and voice.

It serves as valid evidence of transfer. The Deed is signed after receiving the governor’s approval and registration of the document.

Lawyers in Nigeria are the only ones who can make a Deed of Assignment. They often charge a small percentage of the cost of the property to prepare a deed of Assignment.

Land purchase receipt

The land purchase receipt is an important document that shows that one person has received payment for a property in question. No matter the amount paid, be it part payment or full, a land receipt is essential and must be issued accurately.

Approved survey plan

An approved survey plan is a documented survey usually carried out by a surveyor and gets approval from the Director of Land Surveys. It contains information such as:

  • the title of the survey, which is the name of the owner.
  • the address, the size, and the description of the surveyed land.

Sale and Purchase Agreement (Contact of Sales)

A sale and purchase agreement is an important legal contract between two parties in real estate. This contract enforces a transaction to occur between a buyer and seller. We are finalizing the terms and conditions of the sale.

This document outlines the specifications of the asset that is being sold. How much a buyer has paid and will still pay. 

A Sale Purchase Agreement is often the last document signed as part of the purchase or sale of an asset; authorized representatives from both parties sign it.

In the past, the first person to get free and unused land was entitled to get a Certificate of Occupancy on that land.

However, If the person with the C of O decides to sell his land to another,  the new person must get a document called the Consent of the Governor to legalize that transaction. The process continues every time the property changes hands to a new buyer.

One disadvantage of the governor’s consent is that it can take a long time to obtain. And as time increases, the money spent acquiring this document increases. However, the governor’s consent has the advantage of making it possible to quickly transfer land to another person without speaking to Omo onile (land indigenous owner) and the contract of sale.

All these documents are useful and essential in helping anyone certify that a land is genuine. Before purchasing land or at the point of paying for land, ensure that you have these documents available and duly verified. These will save you a lot of stress and secure your property investment in the short or long run.
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