There are various types of land documents in Nigeria. Land documents in Nigeria essentially refer to the various legal instruments or documents that are used to establish, transfer, and convey land or ownership rights in Nigeria. These documents are important for ensuring that land transactions are conducted legally and that the rights of both buyers and sellers are protected. Also, the documents that may be relevant to each land transaction may vary with the nature of the ownership and with each transaction.
TYPES OF LAND DOCUMENTS
The following are types of land documents commonly used in Nigeria
- LAND PURCHASE RECEIPT
- CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY (C OF O)
- DEED OF ASSIGNMENT
- DEED OF CONVEYANCE
- DEED OF GIFT
- POWER OF ATTORNEY
- CONTRACT OF SALE OF LAND
- DEED OF MORTGAGE
- GRANT OF PROBATE
- LETTER OF ADMINISTRATION
The above documents will be briefly explained below.
- LAND PURCHASE RECEIPT: A land purchase receipt is a regular receipt or document reflecting the receipt of payment for a particular property or land. Usually, the Receipt contains the name, signature, and address of the purchaser and the vendor, the date of the transaction, etc. The vendors issue a receipt to the buyer upon the sale of a property. However, the receipt may not be relevant where the clause for receipt is contained in the document transferring the land.
- CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY (C OF O): This is a legal document issued by the government to indicate that the holder has the legal right to own and use a particular parcel of land for a specified period of time. The C of O is issued by the State Government of the State where the land is located. A purchaser of a parcel of land covered by a C of O is not required to apply for another one, he is only required to register a deed of assignment with the governor’s consent.
- DEED OF ASSIGNMENT: This is a legal document that transfers ownership rights from the current owner (assignor) to the new owner (assignee). A deed of assignment is usually drafted by a legal practitioner and is registered at the Land Registry.
- DEED OF CONVEYANCE: This is a legal document that transfers ownership rights from one person to another. A deed of conveyance is often time called a deed of assignment particularly in the areas known as the old Northern and Eastern region in Nigeria where the Conveyancing Act is applicable. It is also a registerable instrument.
- DEED OF GIFT: This is a legal document used to transfer ownership rights from one person (Donor) to another (Donee) without any monetary consideration. It is often used in cases where a parent wants to gift a piece of land to a child, relative or any other person. It can be used to transfer ownership of a parcel of land permanently to another person.
- POWER OF ATTORNEY: This is a legal document that authorizes a person to act on behalf of another person in matters relating to land transactions. It is often used where the owner of a parcel of land is unable to act by himself in a property transaction. Power of Attorney may or may not be by Deed.
- SURVEY PLAN: This is a document that shows the exact measurements and boundaries of a piece of land. It is used in cases where a land transaction is being carried out. A survey plan is usually drawn by a Registered Surveyor and it is usually attached to a Deed of Assignment or Conveyance.
- CONTRACT OF SALE OF LAND: The contract of sale of land is used by parties to agree on some terms before the final stage of the Land transaction is reached. It is relevant when any property is to be purchased by anyone. The preparation of a Contact of Sale of Land usually precedes the preparation of the Deed of Assignment. It is not a registrable instrument and must be accompanied by other title/land documents on the property.
- DEED OF MORTGAGE: ADeed of mortgage is a document used in Mortgage transactions. It is used in mortgage transactions to show that land or property has been transferred from the mortgagor (borrower) to the mortgagee (lender). It is a temporary transfer in that, once the loan amount and the interest accrued have been fully paid; the mortgagor shall be entitled to retrieve his property back from the lender.
- GRANT OF PROBATE: A grant of probate is a document derived after proving the will of a deceased person through inheritance in the probate registry. It is usually granted to persons (executors) mentioned in a Will. The document vests all the assets contained in the will onto the executors of the estate, who are sometimes the recognized legal owners of the property in law and have powers to transfer or deal with the land/property of the deceased person. Generally, executors are trustees to the beneficiaries named in a Will. After the owner of any property has become deceased, all the land documents of such a person are no longer valid to transfer any interest in the assets left behind by him or her. The Probate will now be the only recognized legal document to prove the title to such property.
- LETTER OF ADMINISTRATION: A letter of administration is similar to a grant of Probate. It vests the property left behind by a deceased person on the administrators of a specific estate. It is usually granted to the personal representatives of a deceased person where the deceased left no will before his death or where the Will did not provide executors or where the Will has become invalid for any reason
- ASSENT: AnAssent is a legal document used to vest an interest in a specific estate onto the beneficiaries of an estate or any third-party buyer by the executors or the administrators of the estate. It is always accompanied by a copy of a grant of probate or letter of administration. An assent may also be by way of a Deed.
- JUDGEMENT OF COURT: The judgment of a court is another essential document that may affect or transfer an interest in a specific property from one person to another. In Nigeria, the legal interests in several properties have been transferred from one person to another through the decisions of various courts. When property ownership has been derived through litigation or any property has been subjected to a lawsuit, it is essential to examine the full decision of the court in respect of such property by obtaining a certified true copy of the judgment.
In conclusion, buying real estate in Nigeria is a delicate process that requires the services of an experienced real estate lawyer. The titles of some property documents are so complicated, and a lawyer may be required to conduct due diligence in respect of such property before purchase.