The procedure to conduct search and verify land titles in Lagos State at the Land Registry cuts across different stages.
The overall purpose of verifying a landed property is to check if the land has a good root of title and also to discover defects in the title of the property if any.
These stages involve conducting due diligence search and investigation at the following places and many other places that may apply to a particular land transaction:
- Conducting a search at the Land Registry, Lagos State.
- Carrying out a confirmation of survey at the office of the Surveyor-General Lagos State.
- Conducting a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
The relevant means of verifying land in Lagos State and conducting a search at the Land Registry are briefly discussed below.
- Conducting a search at the Land Registry, Lagos State- a land registry is established in every state under the Land Registration Law of Lagos State. For the focus of this article being Lagos State, the Land Registry for Lagos is located at the Secretariat Alausa, Ikeja Lagos. The Land Registry is responsible for maintaining documents relating to land within its territory.
It is only properties that have been registered with the government of the state that can be verified at the land registry. Conducting a search at the Land Registry will reveal the true owner of the land and also reveal if there is any encumbrance such as government acquisition, mortgages, or any form of leasehold on the property.
- Conducting a confirmation of survey at the office of the Surveyor-General– this process involves verifying the location of the land in question through the coordinate as contained in the survey plan. This stage is important in the verification of land in Lagos State. The applicant applies to the office of the Surveyor-General to confirm the registration and availability status of a particular land using the coordinates and survey plan of the land. The purpose of carrying this process is to reveal whether the land is under government acquisition and whether the survey plan of the land is genuine or not.
- Conducting a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)– companies and oftentimes acquire properties in Lagos State and these companies are incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). A search is conducted at the CAC where a vendor of land or previous owner of a land is a company incorporated with the CAC and also to disclose whether there is an encumbrance or charge registered in CAC in respect of the company’s assets.
It is important to conduct a search at the CAC to verify a land in Lagos.
- Search at the Probate Registry– to verify a land in Lagos, it is important to conduct a search at the probate registry to disclose whether probate has been given on any estate; who the administrators of the estate are; or to determine the executors of a testator in a situation of properties belonging to the estate of a deceased.
Unless a grant of probate or letters of administration has been issued, the vendors do not possess the requisite authority to sell or transfer the property of a deceased individual.
- Traditional Investigation– it is important to conduct a traditional search to verify a land in Lagos, where the proposed land to be sold is owned by a single individual. This is achieved by investigating the family of the vendor to identify the principal members of the family and also the community in the town where the land is located, especially where the land is a subject of family or community ownership. It is important to verify that consent of all family members including the family head was had and obtained and that the family name is neither void nor voidable.
- Physical Inspection of the land/property location– this stage of verifying land is simply achieved by visiting the property in question. The purpose of conducting a physical inspection is to reveal any defects on the title of the land/property; confirm the physical condition of the land/property; to know the boundary of the land; to confirm if it corresponds with the coordinate or survey plan and also to know whether it is in possession by any person either by tenancy, leasehold or even by seizure through any anti-corruption agency.
It is important to conduct search and necessary due diligence when purchasing a land or property to clear any doubts, ambiguities, and confusion. The only way to ensure that the land/ property to be purchased in a transaction has a good title is to conduct a complete and thorough search in the above-listed places and many other places as it may apply to a particular transaction.
Finally, retaining the services of a property lawyer to conduct search and throughout the process of buying a property in Lagos State and other locations in Nigeria is very important, so as to ensure a genuine property with a good title is transferred to the owner.
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.