Author: Akpan Jeremiah
As the value of Naira continues to depreciate and the uncertainty of the stock market, many people have come to realization that the oldest form of investment of owning land is the surest guard against inflation. When the stock market was booming, many sold their properties, took loans, took their live savings to cash in the then latest windfall. Before they know what was going on, the market came crashing to low ebb thus leaving many people in debt and poverty. This old wisdom still remains valid. Land appreciate, it does not depreciate. Now that many folks have bought into this reasoning. It is important to know that given Nigeria peculiar challenge where some land grabbers commonly called Omonile in the southwest sometimes sell one land to several persons, it is important to know what kind of documents that can help in such case. Also, the proper thing to do in purchasing a piece of land. Not following the proper process can lead to lose of earned money, debt, stroke and other fatal problems if not properly managed. In some cases, two persons will be laying claims to the same land which could lead to legal quagmire. In order to avoid all these needless headaches and problems, there are four kinds of documents that will validate your land ownership and thereby elucidated below.
1. Mode of payment:
Many land grabbers (Omonile) want cash for payment of land. Many people have ignorantly paid in cash. One problem of cash payment for land is that it is untraceable in time of problem. The cash paid will be shared immediately by the member of the family and if there is a problem on ownership, this method of payment would not hold water. The best method of payment should be through bank cheque or draft and there must be a witness to the transaction. The role of the witness is to help in time of dispute. According to a legal practitioner and properties consultant, Barrister Matthew Ottah, the legal way to prove landownership is through production of Documents of Title. In order word, you must have more documents to back up your claim as the real owner of the land over the other person laying claim to the same land.
2. A Family Receipt:
Most lands in the country aside from government acquisition are owned by specific family who first settle on the land. It is important that you are dealing with right family or authorized representative. After payment, a family receipt from the authorized family head which must be witnessed by the family secretary and a keyed family member. The receipt must bear the family name that is selling the land, date of purchase, location of the land, amount paid and family address. Anything short of this is a red flag. Do not toy with you future, make proper due diligence before you part with your money, because once the money leaves your hand, the chance of reclaiming it is very slim.
3. Deed of Assignment or Conveyance:
This legal instrument showed the parties to the agreement, its traces the history of how the land has change hand till the present owner. It must also include the names of the members of the family who sold the land, family head and at least a principal witness. It must be duly signed and stamped by the concerned parties.
4. A Valid Survey Plan:
This is an important document that you must demand from the family selling the land to you. In fact, this should be first document you must sight before thinking of buying the land. Armed with survey plan, you can go for geographical search to ascertain if the piece of land has not be designated for government in the future. Many people had burned their fingers over failure to do proper search on land before payment. The government will be blamed if in a future date demolish houses on lands that have been acquired for future development. Survey Plan showed all the beacon number, plan number, the name of the qualified surveyor , the year the land was surveyed with proof of lodgment of the red copy to the office of Survey-General.
Summarily, lack of production of title documents can lead to lose of one’s property. It will be wise to get these documents within a safe hand if you want to get out all of problem associated with land ownership in the country. Always get legal and professional advice before committing putting your money into real estate investment.