Getting the necessary land documents in Lagos can be frustrating and tiring!
The perfection of title in Lagos State simply means registering an interest in a property with the government.
When purchasing a property in Lagos or elsewhere in Nigeria, it is statutory for the buyer of the property to obtain proper title register the said property with the government.
The major governing the registration of properties in Nigeria is the Land Use Act of 1978. Section 22 of The Land Use Act states that;
“it shall not be lawful for the holder of a statutory Right of Occupancy granted by the Governor, to alienate his Right of Occupancy or any part thereof by assignment, sublease etc. without the prior consent of the Governor”
What this implies in simple language is that even if a property has a Certificate of Occupancy, which makes the beneficiary the legal interest holder on the land, if he decides to resell the property, since the land is held in trust by the State Government, the Governor needs to approve that transaction. Otherwise, the title that will be transmitted is not perfect and it means that the final authority on landed matters is not aware of the transaction as mandated by the Land Use Act of 1978.
For many, buying a piece of land or real property is all about finding a vendor willing to sell and meeting the price for the property. Many people fall into the mistake of dealing with vendors of properties in trust, assuming that the fact that they have known one another for donkey years or the fact that an agent has assured them of a good title is sufficient to avoid future troubles with respect to the land or real property.
It is of paramount importance to take certain steps prior to the purchase of land, or land with structure during the course of purchase and even after the purchase has been made for the sake of securing one’s interest in the said property.
A few weeks back, The Permanent Secretary Lagos State Lands Bureau, Mr Bode Agoro, in an Investiture of the NIESV Chairman, reveals why there is a delay in the processing of land titles in Lagos. According to him,
“We have started moving things online in the Lagos State Land Bureau because everything would be done online. From the comfort of your office, from your home, anywhere in the world. We are creating a portal and you will log on to that portal; all you need to do is to click what you want to do. If it’s allocation, governor consent etc. Just click on any of it and you upload all your applications online and we would take it up from the back end. We are starting this year. But in order to get to that stage, we needed to go through the eye of the needle. From inception, from the receipt to other documents we have in the land bureau have to be scanned individually. It’s taking us 3 years to scan documents. We would scan every single property document in a folder. It is like we are creating a land certificate for every land in Lagos State. So every single transaction that has taken place on a property be in 1930 or 1940, it would be in that folder. So to get to that level of expertise, it is a lot of work. It means that a lot of things would be disrupted. It means that land registry activity would be disrupted because we have to bring all those files and merge them together. It is like creating a road and when you are creating the road, for example; Apapa/Oshodi Expressway. It was terrible when they were fixing it. We all encountered traffic when they were fixing it. Another example is the Gbagada expressway. It was filled with traffic when they were fixing it but go and ply that road now. It’s now traffic-free. That’s the process we are in now but by the end of this year, you are going to ply through. Please bear with us”.