Important documents you need to have when buying property in Nigeria - Ripples Nigeria (2023)

Thomas had inherited a house from his mother which he lived in since he got married. He had no reason to buy land, let alone build a house because he was contended with his inheritance.

When he turned 40, he decided that he would like to give back to society by building an old people’s home in his hometown. Then, he had to buy land to build on. As someone who had no prior experience when it comes to buying properties, he was deceived by people who posed to have an expanse of land for sale.

Quite alright, he was given a few documents but not the accurate ones. He didn’t realize this until the rightful owner with all the required documents showed up.

Unfortunately, he tried to find the people who sold the land but they were nowhere to be found. That’s how Thomas lost all his money.

This is one of the many experiences of people when it comes to buying land in Nigeria. Incomplete documents can make you lose a property you have invested so much on.

Let me highlight the documents you are supposed to have in possession when you buy any property, in Nigeria.

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1. Deed of Assignment/ Deed of Transfer

This document shows the transfer of legal ownership of the property to the buyer subject, but, to perfection. This document is very important, the buyer needs to request it when buying a property from someone who previously bought it from another person.

Although, the abstract of title, the epitome of title, and payment receipt ought to have been different documents, they are all contained in the Deed of Assignment.

2. Certificate of Occupancy

The Certificate of Occupancy is one of the most important land documents in Nigeria. It can be used to certify the legal ownership status of any land in Nigeria. It is the document that indicates that an individual has been granted a statutory right of occupancy by the Governor of the state or a customary right of occupancy by the Local Government Chairman, where the land is situated in a rural area. This document is also very important where the property in question is on a land that was acquired through a state grant.

3. Approved Survey Plan


Another important document to ask when buying a land in Nigeria is the approved survey plan, because it clearly marks and defines legal boundaries, helps reveal the true ownership status of a property, and also reveals if the land is under any government acquisition or committed area.

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This document will become even more important where the house is bought along with surrounding land.

4. Duly Perfected Assent

The personal representatives divest themselves of the real estate of the deceased through an assent. This is required where the house belongs to the estate of a deceased, in this situation, it becomes mandatory for the buyer to request for a duly perfected assent from the personal representatives. He can even go further to verify if letters of administration/probate have been granted.

5. The Sale and Purchase Agreement

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The Sale and Purchase Agreement contains a list of terms and conditions that are agreed to by both the buyer and the seller. An excellent example of this would be the negotiation for the price of the flat. The agreement would contain the agreed amount of the flat by both-the buyer and the seller.

6. The Building Approval Plan

Before the commencement of construction, the builder is required to get the necessary sanctions under the provisions of the Building Bylaws, Master Plan and Local Body Acts. This sanction involves two factors:

A) The Building Plan

B) The Layout Approval

One mistake that first time land or house buyers often make is not ensuring that the builder meets the terms and conditions of the Building Plan and Layout Approval before buying the house. Not meeting the terms and conditions could end up in negative results if the local authorities come in for spot checks, which are quite common in newer buildings.

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7. The Mother Deed

The Mother Deed is an important document which traces the ownership of the property. This document is generally required by banks when a buyer avails a loan against the property. An individual may approach the local authorities for help while creating this document.

By Dennis Isong

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