Area: Real Estate Law
Acquisition of land in Nigeria involves various steps and stages which are necessary for both the vendor and purchaser. Before progressing with a sale or purchase of a land, it is advisable one involves a solicitor to guide and ensure that the acquisition smooth and proper.
In this write up, we will summarize the procedure for acquisition of land in Nigeria.
The Procedure for Land Acquisition
- ENQUIRIES ON THE LAND
This is needed to determine the existence or otherwise of any defects in the land to be purchased. It is also necessary to determine if the land is suitable for habitation, commercial purposes or any other activities depending on the purchaser's need for the land.
Enquiries made about the land would reveal existing encumbrances, pending disputes and more about the land to be purchased.
The purchaser's solicitor owes a duty to the purchaser to examine the title of the land, any existing or potential disputes, and the appropriate method of sale of the land.
- DEDUCING TITLE
The vendor must prove to the purchaser that he has good title to the land he seeks to sell.
Deducing title is just a means of proving to the purchaser that the vendor has title to the land to be sold and also has the right to sell the land.
The vendor's solicitor must deduce title, and in doing so he must present the purchaser/purchaser's solicitor with the following documents:
- Abstract of title - which is an analysis of all the major
transactions if any that has been done on the land.
- Epitome of title - which contains a list and particulars of all documents affecting the land as well as the copies of the said documents.
- CONTRACT OF SALE
To show the interest and willingness of the parties toward the acquisition of land, a formal Contract of Sale of Land must be prepared. This contract may be prepared by vendor or purchaser's solicitor. But usually, the vendor's solicitor prepares it.
The purchaser's solicitor where handed the Contract of Sale of Land prepared by vendor's solicitor must inspect the same and if satisfied proceeds with a meeting involving all the parties where the following events may take place:
- Payment of deposit of the purchase price by the purchaser to the vendor/vendor's solicitor.
- Signing of contract of sale by the parties and their witnesses.
- Issuance of purchase receipt by the vendor to the purchaser.
- Handling over all information and documents that affect the title to the land by the vendor to the purchaser.
- INVESTIGATION OF THE TITLE
Investigation of the title is done by the purchaser's solicitor after the vendor's solicitor has deduced tittle. This step is very important and necessary as documents presented by the vendor's solicitor is not the final proof of the title to the land to be acquired.
The steps for carrying out the investigation are as follows:
- Collection of the abstract of title and epitome of title from the vendor's solicitor and examination of the documents.
- Search to be done in the following places depending on type of title the land:
- Land Registry - compulsory.
- Court Registry - if the land has been subject to litigation.
- Probate Registry - if it is the land of a deceased person.
- Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) - if it is
a company land.
- Physical inspection of the land.
- Traditional history.
- Search report - prepared by the purchaser's solicitor detailing the outcome of the search conducted on the land.
- PREPARATION OF THE DEED OF ASSIGNMENT
*After the contract of sale of the land has been exchanged and the investigation to the title of land has been conducted successfully, the next important stage is competition, which involves preparation of a deed of assignment.
The steps for completion include the followings:
- The purchaser's solicitor prepares the deed of assignment
and hands them over to the vendor's solicitor for a review.
- Where the vendor's solicitor agrees with the terms contained in the deed of assignment, he sets up a meeting in his office for the completion of the sale of land.
- Balance of the purchase price is paid by the purchaser.
- Execution of the deed of assignment by the parties and their witnesses will follow.
- The vendor's solicitor hands over the original copies of all documents, duly registered survey plan, copies of the duly executed Deed of Assignment for perfection and the duly executed Form 1 for the Governor's Consent.
Once the deed of assignment is executed by the parties, their designation changes from vendor and purchaser to Assignor and Assignee.
- PERFECTION OF TITLE
This is the final stage to the acquisition of land in Nigeria and it is done to perfect the assignee's title to the land through the approval of the Governor in line with the Land Use Act.
Essentially, the procedure for the perfection of title includes three major stages to wit:
- Governors Consent.
In conclusion, land acquisition in Nigeria requires a lot of attentiveness as purchasing a land does not come at a small cost. Hence a solicitor must exercise due diligence from the enquiry stage down to the perfection stage ensuring that his or her client is informed of the progress of the transaction and give cautions and warnings where necessary.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.