How To Do a Proper Land and Property Search in Nigeria

This is the concluding part of the topic; “How to do a Proper Land and Property Search”. Just like this first part, in this piece, we will be discussing the act of Land and Property search; it’s importance and the processes involved.

Now, let’s examine critically a situation where a land owner who has done search on a property and discovers that it was free, suddenly realizes that he can’t erect a residential building on the said land.

How then can you check out uses for a land and how do you navigate your way around it?

The first thing we must note when it comes to the issue of land search is that Lagos state is already structured and planned. Asides having your survey plan and having confirmed that the land is free for you to use, you must understand that each sector or segment of land in Lagos is appropriated or zoned for specific land use. It could be industrial, residential or commercial

For instance, computer village in Ikeja, Lagos was basically designated for residential use but presently it has been turned to commercial. Now, the Lagos state Government is trying to revert it back to its initial plan for it, which is strictly residential.

What happens in cases like this is that you have to go to New Town Development Agency (NTDA), the agency in charge of the planning for Lagos state. At NTDA you will be able to search  the land use status of your land based on the land coverage.

In a situation where the land is confirmed for industrial purpose or use, meanwhile you acquired the land specifically for residential use, then the land owner might just have found himself in a fix. Because this present administration is hell-bent on sticking to the old master plan of Lagos state due to the clamour for a mega-city status for the city of excellence.

Therefore, even if you submit an application for a change of use, it may still be difficult to implement or process.

If you want to buy a property that has a bit of documentation like; Certificate of Occupancy, Government consent et.c and you need to conduct a search, you must first ask the property owner to produce some numbers like the registration number, the volume number and other details on the C-of-O. You can do this search at the Land Bureau where the exact name of the owner is brought out using the registration number and the volume number.

If you are armed with a copy of the C-of-O, the purpose of the land is usually written on it. It is often stated there if the land is for industrial, residential or commercial use, while some are actually multi-purpose. Moreso, one other thing a property search does for you is that if your former owner has pledged it for mortgage, that will also be stated in your search report

Anybody can actually walk into the Land Bureau or NTDA to do this search because it is a public document. It might cost some money and you may have to swear to an affidavit, but it is still your right.

By Debo Adejana