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Registering Properties In Nigeria: A Case For Streamlining The Process

Specifically in Lagos State, the registration of title to land is governed by the Lagos State Lands Registration Law, 2015 (the “Lagos Lands Law”). Salient provisions of the Lagos Lands Law include:

• The mode of transfer of interests in land, sub-lease or mortgage must be by deed. Such transfers shall be deemed to be complete only after the deeds have been registered at the Lands Registry – Section 62(1);

• All deeds by which sub-leases, mortgages and dealings in land are effected are registrable documents – Section 74(1);

• Registrable documents are mandated to be registered within sixty (60) days after obtaining the Governor’s Consent – Section 26(1);

• A Power of Attorney (POA) authorising a third party to deal in land is a registrable document – Section 56(2);

• Land Certificates shall be issued, containing the details of all transactions relating to land, which have been registered as required –and the Land Certificates shall be prima facie evidence of title – Sections 35(1) and 35(5);

A registered holder of title to land has power to dispose or deal with it and create any interest or right over it, subject to obtaining the required Governor’s Consent – Section 32.

Due to the requirement of obtaining Governor’s Consent in relation to any alienation of land, registering properties in Nigeria has become a cumbersome and long process, and obtaining the Governor’s consent could take between 6 months to several years, depending on the level of bureaucratic procedures in the relevant State. Apart from the cumbersome process, the costs associated with the perfection of title is another challenge prospective investors consistently battle with, as these costs could be as high as 15% of the value of the property. In Lagos, the immediate past Governor reduced requisite perfection costs to about 3% in January of 2015 and this has helped with the increase with compliance with the LUA and investments in real properties.