Buying and selling of properties are important and delicate transactions that require the services of experts like property lawyers in Lagos. The role of a property lawyer in Nigeria is to protect the interest of the parties in any property transaction (i.e. either the Purchaser or the Seller). There are several reasons a lawyer is important for every property transaction in Nigeria. Below, I will quickly enumerate, a few reasons why it is worthy to retain a property lawyer for every property transaction in Nigeria.
1. SEARCH OF PROPERTY TITLE AT VARIOUS REGISTRIES
Before buying a property, various searches must be conducted. Lawyers usually conduct these searches on behalf of clients. Some of the important searches that must be conducted include the followings:
1.1. A title's search of the property at the Lands Registry to ascertain whether there is any form of government's acquisition or encumbrances that would affect the buyer's ownership interest. Encumbrances on a real estate may include the following;
- Acquisition by the government for overriding public interest
- Outstanding mortgages on the property
- Construction liens on the property
- Unpaid taxes
- Certain easements or restrictive covenants
- Court judgment
1.2. A lawyer may also search for the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), where the Seller or the Past Owner of the Property is a company. The search at the CAC would reveal whether there are any floating or fixed charges against the company's assets that may affect the title of the property to be purchased.
1.3. Furthermore, a search at the probate registry to reveal whether or not probate has been granted on any estate and to ascertain the personal representatives or executors of a testator in cases of properties belonging to the estate of a deceased. Without a grant of probate or letters of administration, the seller does not possess the requisite authority to sell the property of a deceased person.
2. INVESTIGATION OF THE ROOT TITLE
A property's root title is usually investigated by carrying out a necessary verification from the principal members of a family or from relevant people within a community, where the property is subject to family or community ownership. It is important to verify that all relevant consents have been obtained and that the title is neither void nor voidable before a property can be purchased.
3. DRAFTING OF NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
Lawyers prepare different types of documents for properties' transactions. Meanwhile, it is important to mention that quite many properties' purchasers, especially buyers of a bare land still rely on mere receipt and offer letters, which is very risky and inadvisable. It is only a lawyer that may determine the type of documents that must be prepared for a specific property transaction, based on the circumstances of the property to be purchased. However, in most of the properties' transactions, the contract of sale and the deed of assignment are always relevant.
4. PERFECTION OF TITLE TO THE NEWLY ACQUIRED PROPERTY
Property lawyers in Lagos Nigeria may help out in the perfection of a title to the newly acquired property by applying for the Governor's consent, payment of stamp duty, and registration of the deed of assignment at the Lands Registry. It is essential and a requirement of Law (Land Use Act) for an owner of a property to perfect his or her title, as to be considered as the legitimate owner of the property in the records of the relevant governments.
Finally, lawyers are pivotal parts of the real estate transactions and an experienced real estate lawyer will be able to lend his expertise to ensure that any property transactions are done legitimately and the interest of parties, especially the buyers are duly secured.
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.