When trying to purchase any property in Nigeria, it is very important that you conduct a thorough search to verify the title it possesses. Many have fallen victims of fraudsters who claim a property has verified titles only for the buyer to give them money and they disappear into thin air leaving the buyer facing lots of embarrassing situations.
In order to conduct search and verify land titles in Lagos State at the Land Registry, there are different stages you have to go through.
These stages, according to Lawyer Winifred Idiaru, include (but not limited to):
i. Conducting a search at the Land Registry, Lagos State.
ii. Carrying out a confirmation of survey at the office of the Surveyor-General Lagos State.
iii. Conducting a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Discussed below are the various means of verifying genuine land in Lagos State and conducting a search at the Land Registry.
- Conducting Diligent Search at the Lagos State Land Registry
Under Nigerian laws, a land registry is established in every state. Since this article is focused on Lagos State, the Lagos Land Registry, located at the Secretariat Alausa, Ikeja Lagos is primarily responsible for keeping and maintaining documents relating to land within Lagos State.
Please note: It is only properties that have been duly registered with the Lagos state government that can be verified at the land registry. When you conduct a search at the Land Registry, the true owner of the land will be revealed as well as if there is any encumbrance such as mortgages, government acquisition, or any form of leasehold on the property.
- Conducting a Proof of Survey at the Office of the Surveyor-General
This is a process that involves you verifying the exact location of the land or property through the coordinate as contained in the survey plan. This stage is highly important in the verifying genuine land in Lagos State.
To do this, you apply to the office of the Surveyor-General to ascertain the registration and availability status of that particular land using the survey plan and coordinates of the land.
- Conducting a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)
Some companies do acquire properties in Lagos State and as such, they are incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). All you simply need to do is to conduct a search at the CAC to confirm whether the vendor or previous owner of the land is a company incorporated with the CAC. This search will also help you discover if there is any encumbrance or charge registered in CAC in respect of the company’s assets.
- Search at the Probate Registry
Conducting a search at the probate registry is also important if you want to verify a landed property in Lagos. This is to determine the following:
- Who the administrators of the estate are
- Whether probate has been given on any estate.
- The executors of a testator in a situation of properties belonging to the estate of a deceased person. A vendor does not possess the authority to transfer or sell a deceased person’s property unless a grant of probate or letters of administration has been issued.
5. Community/Family Investigation
If the land/property to be sold is owned by an individual, it is highly recommended to conduct a community investigation. This is done by finding out about the family of the vendor in order to identify the principal members of the family as well as the community in the town where the land is located, especially in cases where the land is a subject of communal or community ownership.
It is of paramount importance to verify that consent of every member of the family including the family head was obtained before any transaction takes place.