We sponsor a real estate radio program on Lagos Talks FM Radio
One of the subjects dealt with on the program was that of title documents to property & why it’s important that everyone obtains one. It generated a lot of feedback even days after so I decided to do a short thread to educate people more.
The key thing is that without registered title one basically has only an equitable interest that can be challenged.
A registered title with the Land Registry means that “all things being equal” the Govt recognizes your ownership of the property.
I have put “all things being equal” in parenthesis because the Govt recognizes your title based on information you supply & their own confirmation of same. If at anytime the information on which your title has been issued is found to be false title is immediately voided.
What is a title to property?
Based on the Land Use Act of 1979, title can be any of these but not limited to the following.
1. A Certificate of Occupancy
2. Statutory Right of Occupancy (SRO)
3. Power of Attorney
4. Deed of Assignment
5. Freehold (contracted pre Land Use Act).
Title comes in many other forms but these are the most common ones.
Why does anyone need a title document?
There are many reasons why we must all obtain title to our properties.
1. To ward off adverse claims from 3rd parties
2. To confirm your right to sell & also to ease the sale or purchase of your property
3. To realize it’s true value. A property with title documents will attract higher value (sometimes by as much as
50% over and above that without one).
4. To free dead capital. Many Nigerians own land but are walking the streets living in poverty. It is because they don’t understand that if they had title to their real estate they could sell, mortgage or enter into a transaction with same that could free capital & change their lives completely.
5. To leave less problems for our heirs etc.
Why is there apathy towards obtaining registered title to property?
Interestingly with our land mass of over 920,000 sq kms in Nigeria, the country has less than 300,000 registered titles – C of O, SRO, Deeds of Assignment etc nationwide. Easily we can approximate that less than 10% of Nigeria’s land mass is titled.
The reason is not far fetched.
Governments have made titling more a source of immediate revenue generation instead of looking at the larger long term picture of increased economic activities thru freed otherwise dead capital.
The Nigerian citizens are mostly unaware of the significance of registered title documents to property & many times believe that possession, purchase receipt & survey plan are enough. (Not true).
The average Nigerian citizen is also suspicious of government & anything that comes out of same. Title for many would be seen more as a means of Govt levying more taxes on the landowners.
How does one obtain registered title to their property?
For most State Govts the procedure is uniform. There is a Land Use & Allocation Dept. They handle all issues related to land & titling in the State.
The documents needed are usually but limited to
1. Application form purchased from the State Govt Lands Dept
2. Survey plan
3. Purchase receipt evidencing how one acquired the property
4. Tax clearance certificate
5. Passport photographs
6. Payment of processing fees – varies from State to State.
Once the application form is filled out & submitted with the attached documents the rest of it is basically to follow up with the relevant authorities. My best advice though is to hand over the processing of same to a qualified professional – Estate Surveyor or Lawyer. A professional in one of these fields is best suited to see this through for you with minimal stress