The land registration process in Nigeria brushes on all factors involved in registering land transactions from the systems involved, benefits of registration, the procedure for registration, requirement for the registration, challenges faced and so many others. Property acquisition is a valuable investment that can be properly and securely concluded where the property transaction is registered with the Land Registry in accordance with the provisions of Land Use Act.
Land Registration is simply the system by which all matters concerning possession, ownership, or rights conveyed in land can be registered and recorded with the government to provide evidence of title, facilitate transactions and prevent the unlawful transfer of ownership. Registration of land at the relevant Land Registry is one of the three stages of perfecting title to land to enhance the property rights enjoyed by the Assignee.
In Lagos State, the registration of title to land is governed by the Lagos State Lands Registration Law, 2015. The Section 62 (1) of the law provides that "the mode of transfer of an interest in land, sub-lease or mortgage must be by deed, such transfers shall be deemed to be complete only after the deeds have been registered at the Land Registry".
The Land Registry Directorate is a part of the Land Bureau saddled with the responsibility of keeping an updated record of all land transactions in Lagos State. This agency of government is statutorily empowered by the Lagos State Land Registration Law 2015 to store registered documents relating to land, register deeds, assent, vesting deed, court judgment deed of release, issuance of loss of documents, certified true copy (CTC) and conducting a search.
The land registration process involves two systems which are Deed Recording and Title Registration of the ownership. Deed recording system helps to give publicity to land transactions, that a claimed interest already exists on the land, and to establish priority against any subsequent claim to the same interest. The end benefit of this system is to prevent any form of concealed dealings; While Title Registration is an authentication of the ownership or legal interest in a land. This system simply confirms transactions that confer ownership or interest. When the land is registered in the register, it serves as conclusive proof of title.
The Procedure for Title Registration of Land in Lagos State
According to Section 2 of the Lagos State Land Registration Law 2015, every document of interest or title to land in Lagos State shall be registered in accordance with the provisions of the law.
As earlier stated, registering a land is one of the stages of perfecting title In Lagos State and there are about seven major stages involved in the perfection process and these are;
- Submission of an application for the Governor's consent at the Lands Bureau of Lagos State. This process is accompanied by relevant documents and evidence of payment of levies such as charting fee, application fee, administrative charges and endorsement fee, etc.
- The application is referred to the office of the Surveyor-General of Lagos State for the purpose of charting the survey plan, confirming if the land is free from government acquisition and if the coordinates in the land that reflects in the survey do not go beyond the boundary of the vendor's property.
- Thereafter the application is returned to the Lands Bureau and an assessment letter is issued requesting the applicants to make the necessary payments of consent fee, stamp duty, capital gains tax, registration fee, etc.
- The payment receipts obtained upon payment of the above fees are then forwarded to the office of the Lagos Bureau.
- The Deed is then forwarded to any designated commissioners for the endorsement of the portion of the Deed on behalf of the Governor for the Governor's consent
- After obtaining the consent, the deed is subsequently stamped by the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service where the parties to the transaction are individuals or the Federal Inland Revenue Service where either the Assignor or Assignee is a company. Without stamping, the instrument will not be accepted for registration at the land registry.
- Finally, the stamped Deed is presented to the Lagos State Lands Registry for registration. This stage signifies the completion of the perfection process and a duly perfected original Deed is returned to the applicant.
Land acquisition and security of title by registration are fundamental to the expansion of business and growth of the economy, thus, it is very important to take steps to secure your interest in a land/property after purchase. Registering a title to land is a valid proof of title to the land.
Finally, the land registration process in most other parts or states of Nigeria are similar to the process in Lagos State with some necessary variations and modifications. The most common effect is that the Governor of a State or the Minister, in the case of the Federal Capital Territory, must consent to transfer of any interest in land in accordance with the provisions of the Land Use Act before such a land or property can be duly registered in favour of the new owner.
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.