CONSIDERING OWNING A REAL PROPERTY IN LAGOS? HERE’S HOW TO NAVIGATE
For a majority of Nigerians, acquiring real property in Lagos is a fantasy. In Nigeria, it is one of the factors that determine success. But acquiring real property in Lagos can be exceedingly frustrating. In reality, purchasing from the wrong sources has crushed people’s ambitions. A friend from the United State attempted to purchase land in Lagos a few years ago. He confided in his wife who resides in Lekki, Lagos and after considerable thought, decided to entrust her with the responsibility of purchasing the land on his behalf by sending her money to do just that. The wife purchased a plot of land in one of the Estates in Ajah and when she returned a few weeks later to inspect the land, she saw construction had started on it. She realised she had been swindled. The fear of purchasing land in Lagos from fraudsters has made it discouraging to potential investors willing to invest.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE OWNERSHIP TO LAND?
The Supreme Court of Nigeria aptly outlined the five ways of establishing ownership of land in the case of Elegushi v Oseni (2005) 14 NWLR (PT 945) at 348 and they are as follows:
- By traditional evidence.
- By numerous positive acts of ownership extending over a sufficient period of time which are enough to warrant the conclusion that they are owners. People used to reside on land they find in the past and after a certain period of time on the land, they are considered as the owner. Law in Nigeria acknowledges customary ownership. To demonstrate their ownership of the land, they do not require a certificate of occupancy.
- By acts of long possession and enjoyment of the land in dispute. Before exchanging money, the majority of people who purchase land in Lagos always check with the traditional families to confirm real ownership. Ownership is demonstrated over a long period of time by numerous positive actions to support the conclusion that the subject is the owner. This kind of ownership is recognized under Nigerian law as well. They cannot, however, demonstrate that they formed the country. But they are able to demonstrate without opposition that their ancestors had long since resided on the land by acts of long-term ownership and use of the disputed land. In the case the landowner is unable to demonstrate customary ownership of the property or demonstrate that it is uncontested and if their opponents are unable to legally establish ownership according to the law, they actually own the land.
- By the presentation of genuine title documents. The law presumes that the land belongs to whoever presents the genuine documents and this applies to every paperwork, including the certificate of occupancy. Therefore, it is wise to do some research before purchasing land in Lagos. The State Ministry of Lands and the family office of the traditional landowners are often where the search is conducted. Nevertheless, if it is established that the root of the title is invalid, a certificate of occupancy will not establish actual ownership. Therefore, before exchanging money, it is crucial for all purchasers of land in Lagos to carry out a search and confirm that the root of title of such documents is valid. Any document issued on a faulty root of title is not legal documents, according to the law.
- By providing evidence that you are in possession of land that is related to or adjacent to the land in question under conditions that make it likely that you are also the owner of that land.
This occurs when there is no disagreement about the size of the territory. The occupant of the property will be regarded as the legitimate owner of any adjacent lands. It will be determined that there isn’t any further information to the contrary.
You must request title documents before purchasing land in Lagos.
OBLIGATION TO OCCUPY
The Land-use Act of 1978 defines the right of occupancy as the ability to use land temporarily. It is distinct from land ownership as defined by common law and customary law. In a government-approved layout, the right to use a piece of land is granted to an individual or business entity. For residential use, it typically lasts 99 years, while for other uses, it lasts between 35 and 70 years. The State’s Executive Governor typically grants it. Land in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is granted a right of occupancy by the FCT Minister.
THINGS TO DO BEFORE PURCHASING A LAND IN LAGOS
To determine who the true owner of the property is, you must do a thorough inquiry. Visit the property to ask neighbours questions. In some instances, you might need to look into the area’s traditional past. Inquire about any unclear regions. You should only accept a purchaser’s money when you are happy with the search’s outcome. Here is also information about obtaining a mortgage to purchase land in Lagos. The title you get from the vendor needs to be registered with the correct government body.
- ISOCHUKWU MICHAEL
- AYENI OMONIKE