UNDERSTANDING LAND LAWS: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO LAND ACQUISITION IN NI

UNDERSTANDING LAND LAWS: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO LAND ACQUISITION IN NI

Did you know that your land will only be yours for 99 years? Are you aware that you might be able to claim ownership of your great-grandfathers land sold a century ago? Let's dive into the nuances of land ownership and leasehold in Nigeria to understand these possibilities better.The Basics of Leasehold Tenure in NigeriaIn Nigeria, the land tenure system is governed by the Land Use Act of 1978. This Act vests all land in each state of Nigeria in the Governor of that state, who holds it in trust for the people. Here's how it works:Certificate of Occupancy (C of O): When land is allocated to an individual or organization, the recipient is issued a Certificate of Occupancy. This certificate is proof of the right to occupy and use the land for a specified period, usually 99 years.Leasehold System: Essentially, the right to use the land reverts to the government after the lease period expires. If you buy land with a C of O, you're acquiring a leasehold interest in the property.Transfer of Interest: When you purchase land, you acquire the remaining years on the leasehold. Its crucial to verify the remaining lease period to avoid potential future issues.What Happens When the Lease Expires?When the lease period of your land expires, you must apply for renewal. The terms and conditions, including any fees for renewal, are determined by the state government. The Land Use Act provides the legal framework for managing these leasehold and freehold interests.Real-life Implications for BuyersConsider this scenario: Your father bought a piece of land in the year 2000 and bequeathed it to you in 2024. You now have 75 years left on the lease. If you keep the land for 20 years and then sell it, the new owner will have 55 years left before needing to renegotiate the lease with the government.Many people unknowingly buy land with only 10-20 years left on the lease. What would you do if you bought property and, after a few decades, were approached by the government to renegotiate the lease terms? Would you pay another sum to retain your property, or face the risk of losing it?Key Questions to Ask Before Buying Land To avoid such situations, always ask these critical questions before purchasing land:What is the lease period?How many lease years are remaining?These answers should significantly influence the buying price of the property. For instance, if a land with a 99-year lease period costs ?100,000, its unreasonable to pay the same amount for a property with only 70 years remaining on the lease.The Land Use Act 2020: Renewing Expired Lease According to the Land Use Act, when a lease expires, landowners are required to renew it at a reasonable price if the lessee (new owner) is still interested in the land. If both parties cant agree on a price, the court will determine it. Remember, youll still need to pay something to legitimize your ownership of the property you bought years ago.Final Thought Navigating land ownership and lease holds in Nigeria can be complex. Understanding the implications of the Land Use Act and the leasehold system is crucial for making informed decisions. Always conduct thorough due diligence, verify the remaining lease years, and consult legal experts to ensure a smooth property transaction.By staying informed and asking the right questions, you can protect your investment and avoid unexpected surprises in the future.

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