HOW TO READ LAND DOCUMENTS IN NIGERIA
Getting land is just as important as the paperwork that goes with it. Many people don’t realize how important this is until they’re in trouble, especially if it means they’re going to lose it to the government or to someone else. Most people think of the family receipt as a land document.
The family receipt is just a piece of paper that says a certain amount of money was paid for land, but it doesn’t really mean anything when it comes to ownership. A lot of people are easily fooled when they are told to go build something on the land to prove they own it. No matter what is built on the land, the person who has the right paperwork is the one who owns the land. And the law says that everything on the land belongs to the land, so your building automatically belongs to the owner of that land.
So, let’s look more closely at the different kinds of land documents in Nigeria and see what makes each one different.
The Land Use Act says: Before 1978, the traditional rulers in Nigeria were in charge of how the land was used. Different parts of the country had different ways of running the government. There were two different ways to control land in the North and the South.
During Obasanjo’s time as a military leader, the different land ownership systems were changed. This led to the Land Act, which gave all land to the government. The Act got rid of all ways of owning land in every part of the country. The Land Use Decree was able to get rid of these problems when buying land and was useful by:
- Bringing in a government control that helped with land use programs.
- Getting rid of the nasty arguments that land has caused in the past.
- Putting an end to land speculation.
- Encouraging balanced growth and development in the region.
- Protecting and maintaining the right of all Nigerians to own and use land in Nigeria as beneficiaries.
- Streamlining and makeing it easier to take care of and own land in the country.
- Helping the agricultural part of the economy grow and become more modern.
CLASSIFICATION OF LAND
Before we talk about the different types of land documents in Nigeria, let’s talk about the different classes of land in Nigeria. Land can either be free or it can be bought. If the government hasn’t shown any interest in a piece of land, that land is considered free. This kind of land is safe to buy because the title to it can be cleared up without any trouble. Most of the time, these kinds of lands will have a gazette, a C of O, or the consent of a governor.
Now that you know what it means for land to be free, you should also know that all lands in “urban areas” are owned by the government until they are either committed or found to be free. There are two ways to get something:
- Commitment to Acquire. A piece of land is said to be under committed acquisition when the government says it wants to use that piece of land for a certain reason, like building amenities. These lands are owned by the government and can never be used by private people. If you buy land that is being taken over by the government, you won’t be able to make sure you own it. Instead, you’ll just have to stay there until the government comes to kick you out.
- Global or General Acquisition. Lands that are under “general acquisition” or “global acquisition” can later be confirmed as “FREE” or “committed,” depending on the situation. A land that has been taken over by the government can be set free through a process called excision. Excision is the process by which the government frees up a piece of uncommitted land. If a piece of land that was under acquisition becomes excised, it is no longer under acquisition and is considered free. It is then “gazetted”. The gazette then becomes the land’s title, and this kind of land is safe to buy because it can be given a proper title. Lands under general acquisition can also be freed up if a person buys a piece of land that was under general acquisition without going through the excision process. Such lands can also go through a process called “ratification” or “regularization,” which the land owner pays for. To put it simply, it means the process of giving Government Land to someone who has been living on landed property without the State Government’s permission.
ESTATE IN REAL PROPERTY
An “estate in land” is a person’s amount and type of interest in real estate. There are two main groups of “Estate in Land,” which are:
- Freehold Properties. This group includes lands or estates that have no set end date and can last forever. These are estates that are owned full-time and have help from the government. Lands that are held in freehold are not for sale, and the heirs of the original owners can easily take them over. Freehold estates come in two main types.
- Fee Easy: The person who owns the property has all rights to it. It is the highest type of real estate interest that the law recognizes. The estate lasts as long as the owner wants, and when the owner dies, the estate goes to the owner’s heirs. In Epe, Lagos State, Nigeria, you can get a title that says “freehold.” With Freehold, it takes less time to get your Certificate of Occupancy.
- Life Estate: A life estate only lasts as long as the owner lives or as long as one or more of the named people live (s). The life estate is not an estate of inheritance like the fee simple.
- Land that is not freehold. These estates are also called “leasehold estates” because no one can inherit them and they do not belong to anyone. They are made by written or spoken leases or some other type of rental agreement. Examples are:
- Tenancy for a long time: A lease with a clear beginning and end makes a tenancy last for years. At the end of the time period given, the lease ends on its own. This is also called a “year’s estate”.
- From one period to the next: This is a tenancy for a set amount of time at first, but it automatically renews for an indefinite amount of time unless either the owner or the tenant gives notice. From year to year, it is also called estates. The monthly or yearly rent paid to use the property is one example.
- Free-lance renters: Either the owner or the renter can end this rental agreement at any time. It’s also called “will at estate.”
- Location at Suffering: This is the lowest legal form. It exists indirectly because of the way things are and is never made on purpose. It happens when a person who has a legal right to use a property stays on the property without having a legal right to do so and without the owner’s permission. The only difference between a “tenant at sufferance” and a “trespasser” is that the “tenant at sufferance” had permission to be on the property at one point, but stayed past the end of the lease, while the “trespasser” did not. It is also called a “sufferance estate”.
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