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Registering Properties In Nigeria: A Case For Streamlining The Process

Regulatory reform

Although the process outlined above appears relatively easy, the bureaucracy that often attends applications for perfection of title makes the process tedious and cumbersome.

More instructively, it is important to note that stakeholders in the real property sector have attributed Nigeria’s poor showing in property transactions to “obsolete laws, weak governance framework, fragmented regulatory structures and administrative malpractices”. In the global real property markets, the seamless processes of property registration are ensured through streamlined rules and minimal costs.

Indeed, data reveals that it takes an average of three days only for buyers to perfect titles to their landed properties in Dubai with a near zero cost. Available data on jurisdictions such as Thailand, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States suggests timelines for registration and associated costs as follows:

• Thailand - 1 day and 1% cost;
• South Africa - 2 months and 3% maximum cost;
• United Kingdom - 2 months and 4% maximum cost; and
• United States - 2 months and $8,000 maximum cost.

Thus, in a bid to streamline the perfection process and reduce the time expended on perfection in Lagos State, the Fashola-led administration attempted some major reform of the process.

In furtherance of this reform, the Directorate of Land Services in Lagos State, issued a guideline referred to as “The 30-Day Governor’s Consent to Subsequent Transaction of Land”. The guidelines actually regulate more than the procedure for obtaining Governor’s Consent, and do regulate the entire perfection process including registration and collection of registered documents.

The 30-Day guidelines lay down a 10-step procedure with specific timelines for completion of each step/activity. The 10-step procedure, with attendant timelines, is as follows:

(i) Receipt of applications and accompanying documents at the reception desk;

(ii) Unique referencing of applications for identification purpose; (Steps I & II are to be completed in One (1) day).

(iii) Investigation of the status of the land through charting - (This must be completed within Four (4) to Seven (7) days)

(iv) Assessment of property to determine applicable fees

(v) Issuance of Demand Notices (Steps IV & V are to be completed in One (1) to Two (2) days)

(vi) Forwarding of treasury receipts of payments of fees by applicants - (This must be completed within Five (5) to Seven (7) days)

(vii) Approval and endorsement of documents by the Honourable Commissioner (This must be completed within Four (4) to Seven (7) days)

(viii) Stamping of Documents (This must be completed within Two (2) to Three (3) days)

(ix) Registration of Documents (This must be completed within Two (2) to Three (3) days)