Buying property is one of the important steps most people wish to take at one point in life. There is some information to know before buying land in Nigeria. Some of this information would ultimately guide any prospective buyer of landed property in Nigeria. Some of this important information to know before buying a house in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria will be briefly discussed below.
Vendor's Root of Title
When a vendor's root of title is defective, the buyer also acquires a bad title upon acquisition. A good root of title must confer both the legal and equitable interest of the land in question, clearly describe the land and extent of interest being conveyed, state the owner of the land and nothing on the face of the document should cast any doubt on its authenticity. An example of a good root of title includes a deed of gift, deed of legal mortgage, assent and probate. Certificate of Occupancy can sometimes be a bad root of title in cases where there is existing interest on the land, this was the decision of the court in the of Ogunleye v. Oni (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt. 135) 745. This is because Certificate of Occupancy is only a prima facie evidence and raises a presumption that the holder is in exclusive possession and has a right of occupancy over the land in dispute. This presumption is rebuttable because it can be displaced by evidence of a better title.
The capacity of The Vendor
The buyer should know the capacity in which the vendor is conveying the interest in the title of the land. The capacities in which the vendor may convey are as beneficial owner, mortgagee, trustee, settlor, or personal representative. Where the vendor is conveying as beneficial owner certain covenants would be implied such as;
- That the vendor has a good title and grants quiet possession of the land
- The vendor agrees to indemnify the buyer in the event of a claim buy another claimant on the property
- That the property is free from any encumbrances.
An encumbrance is a burden, hindrance, or claim against a property by a party that is not the owner. It may also be a financial obligation such as a mortgage, that is attached to the title of the land and is transferred with that right. Before buying a land, one must ensure that such land is free of such encumbrances.
This means land to be conveyed must be free from any claim of right of possession by a third party. The land must be free of a legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property. The property must also be free of any physical impediments, which are removable or will substantially interfere with the enjoyment of the property. Physical inspection of the land can show whether there is vacant possession or not.
Land use is the categorization of land based on what can be built on it and what the land can be used for. There are many different categories of land use. The most common uses are residential, commercial, agricultural, recreational, and transport. It is good to understand the land use has various benefits such as preventing an expensive misunderstanding when it comes to what can be built on such land. It would be detrimental for a buyer who buys a property designated as residential to build a club.
Town Planning Laws and Regulations
Town planning laws and regulations may restrict the conveyance of certain land where the purpose for which they are intended to be used is contrary to the purpose of town planning law.
Before buying a land, one must try to know whether the land is a communal or family land. When purchasing a communal land, the consent of the head of the community must be obtained while the consent of the family head and principal members must be sought and obtained when buying family land. Any purported sale by a member of a community or family without the necessary consent is voidable.
The doctrine of Lis Pendens (Pending Lawsuit)
Finally, where land is a subject of a pending lawsuit, the power of control is vested in the court. The effect of this is to put others on notice that there is a dispute concerning the property and restrict the sale of any interest in the land. Some vendors may intentionally hide and mislead buyers to purchase a land which is the subject of a lawsuit. This is why a thorough investigation must be conducted before buying any piece of land.
Above all, land transactions is never a seamless one in Nigeria, and it advised that every intending property's buyer in Nigeria retains the professional service of a property solicitor to navigate through the process.
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.