LAND VERIFICATION SERVICES
EKO LAWYERS always advice and insist on conducting search before our clients buy any Land (the use of the word “Land” in this Article includes House, Building, Objects fixed on land and any Landed Property); as we have the best interest of our client at heart. The purpose of search is to investigate and ascertain the title of the Land to be acquired; and the true Owner(s) of the Land.
The Land which a Purchaser intends to purchase may have gone through several ownership changes, which may result to an emerging weak link at any point in that chain (of ownership changes) that could render the title of the Owner defective. For example, Someone along the line may have evaded the payment of any the statutory fees for perfection of title or Someone along the line may have signed a document on behalf of another person without complying with the due and lawful procedures or even forged the signature; also in some cases, the purported Owner of the Land is not the Owner of the Land.
Hence, all the above mentioned and many more circumstances which we often encounter in Land transactions require proper investigation and verification.
The practice is that as soon as the Purchaser receives the abstract/epitome of title relied upon by the Vendor to establish his title, the authenticity and genuineness of the documents needed to be verified by the Purchaser’s lawyer.
These are amongst the ways of investigating title:
• Traditional evidence,
• Proof by documents,
• Physical visit to the property,
• Search at the appropriate Government Registry; example, Land Registries,
• Court judgment (if any) at the Court of Law.
At times, investigation of title to land may involve all, some or either of the above mentioned procedures.
However, searches in respect of land/ property transactions are done in the following places:
• Searches at the Lands Registry,
• Searches at the Companies Registry,
• Searches at the Probate Registry,
• Searches at the Court of Law.
SEARCHES AT THE LANDS REGISTRY
(Conducting a search at the Lagos State Land Bureau; what is required?)
– An Application alongside an Affidavit of Purpose is submitted.
– Letter of Authority (where applicable).
– Evidence of payment of search fees.
– Conducting of Search.
SEARCHES AT THE COMPANIES REGISTRY
Where the Vendor (or a past owner) is a company duly incorporated in Nigeria, there should be a search conducted at the Company’s Registry.
The purpose of this search is to confirm that there is a resolution of the company that authorized the sale, to cross check whether there are restrictions to the power of the company, the names and address of the Directors, and their signatures.
It is also important to confirm that the sale is not a void transaction under Section 413 of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990.
SEARCHES AT THE PROBATE REGISTRY
Where the devolution of title is by succession, it is important that the search should be extended to the Probate Registry, a department of the High Court of the State. The Search should reveal whether or not probate has been granted and who are the Executors or Personal representatives.
SEARCHES AT THE COURT OF LAW
Title to land/property can be vested on the Vendor via Court Judgment, Order of Court, or Court’s auction sale, thereby making it imperative for the Purchase to verify the title at the Law Court with the particulars of the Suit, Judgment, Order or Court sale auction transaction from which the Vendor obtained title.
Secondly, searches are being conducted at the Court of Law to ascertain if there is pending litigation in respect of the Land which the purchase intends to purchase, as it is not advisable to purchase a land which is the subject of a pending litigation.
NOTE: Meaning of “Land” as used in this Article includes House, Building and any Landed Property.
It is not possible to exhaustively explain how to investigate title on this platform, however, you can you can contact us for more details generally or as regards a particular Land.