7 Free legal tips to consider when buying landed property in Nigeria

Barr Ejiofo Umegbogu

By Ejiofo Umegbogu

  1. When buying family properties, especially royal or traditional families, ensure that you are dealing with the Head of the family and at least two principal members of the family, who are adults. Anything short of this, the sale is NULL. Head of the family alone cannot sell family property and principal members of the family alone cannot sell family property. It’s even worse if you are dealing just one person claiming to be the representative of the family.
  2. When buying land from a company, ensure that you get the Status Report of the company before paying. Be certain that the property is not only registered in the name of the company but also the directors are the ones signing the documents with you. Insist on getting the means of identification of the seller. If they tell you they are selling on behalf of the family, refer to number 1 above by requesting for the Deed of Power of Attorney.
  3. The fact that a property has a C of O is not a conclusive proof of title. You have to be certain that the C of O was not falsified or obtained by fraud or obtained over an encumbered property. Similarly, when a property is covered by a Deed of Assignment, ensure that it is a duly registered and stamped Deed and it is verified to be unencumbered. An unregistered Deed of Assignment cannot transfer a valid legal title. Ir is not different from a Contract of a sale of Land.
  4. When buying property from a Church or Mosque, ensure that it is registered in the registered name of the Church or the Mosque. Also, make sure that you are dealing with the registered Trustees because not all Imams and Pastors are Trustees of the Church and Mosques. In most cases, they are just employees and get paid monthly salaries. So they cannot sell any property to you.
  5. When buying property from a couple. If possible, request for their marriage certificate and do not deal with either the husband or wife. Make sure you deal with both of them. Don’t fall for, I have my husband or wife permission to sell. Also, make sure they both sign your documents in the presence of a witness. Otherwise, the sale can easily be set aside, especially when they are going through a divorce.
  6. When buying a property that’s a subject of a will. Don’t fall for “my dad or mum” willed it to me without sighting the will. Also, sighting the will is not enough, you must make sure that the will is not subject to any litigation and the Executors of the Will have issued an Assent to the beneficiary selling the property to you. Without the document called “Assent”, no beneficiary can sell any property he or she inherited to you. Also, make sure you ask for a copy of the “Probate” issued to the Executors; because that’s the only document that gives the Executors the power to issue Assent. If it’s not a will, then ensure you have a copy of the Letters of Administration. Without this, you have not acquired a property.
  7. When buying a property from a Developer, the title documents are not enough. Ask for development or building permits. Ask for evidence of payment of ground rents and land use charges on the property.

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