Documents you must know in the Real Estate Business

There are necessary documents you must ask if available, when you are about to purchase a property/land, documents you must possess after purchasing a land/property or documents you must possess, if you are in a real estate business in Nigeria to avoid any form of loss of property or land in Nigeria. Below are the six important documents:


A survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. The people that handle survey issues are surveyors and they are regulated by the office of the surveyor general in Lagos as it relates to survey issues in Lagos. A survey plan must contain the following information:

  • The name of the owner of the land surveyed.
  • The Address or description of the land surveyed.
  • The size of the land surveyed.
  • The drawn-out portion of the land survey and mapped out on the survey plan document.
  • The beacon numbers.
  • The surveyor who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up.
  • A stamp showing the land is either free from Government acquisition or not.



Land Use Decree on the 28th of March 1978 that vested all lands in every state of the Federation under the control of the state governors. The Land Use Act coupled with other laws made it possible for the governor who is now the owner of all lands in the state to actually have the power to acquire more lands compulsorily for its own public purpose to provide amenities for the greater good of the citizens.

Fortunately, the government recognizes that indigenes of different sections of the country have a right to existence, a right to the land of their birth, amongst others. Hence, it is customary for the state government to cede a portion of land to the original owners (natives) of each area.

An excision means basically taking a part from a whole and that part that has been excised, will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state. By having it recorded into the government document, it means the land has now been gazetted.


A gazette is an official record book where all special government details are spelt out, detailed and recorded.

A gazette will show the communities or villages that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given to them. It is within those excised acres or hectares that the traditional family is entitled to sell its lands to the public and not anything outside those hectares of land given or excised to them.

A gazette is a very powerful instrument the community owns and can replace a certificate of occupancy to grant title to the villagers. A community owning a gazette can only sell lands to an individual within those lands that have been excised to them and the community or family head of that land has the right to sign your documents for you, if you purchase lands within those excised acres or hectares of land.


A deed of assignment is an agreement between the seller of a land or property and a buyer of that land or property showing evidence that the Seller has transferred all his rights, his title, his interest and ownership of that land to that the seller that has just bought land.

The deed of assignment has been exchanged between both parties, it must be recorded in the land registry to show legal proof that the land has exchanged hands and the public should be aware of the transaction. Such recorded deed of assignment come in the form of either a governor’s consent or registered conveyance.


A certificate of occupancy (C of O) issued by the Lagos state government officially leases Lagos land to you, the applicant, for 99 yrs. As already indicated above, all lands belong to the government.

A C of O however is the officially recognized Document for demonstrating right to a land.
What happens after 99 years? That question is still subject of debate among experts. Most have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Others postulate that as the new owner of the land, you can renew the certificate of occupancy when it expires.


The powers of the governor to consent to such transactions can be found in Section 22. Of the LAND USE ACT 1978 as amended which states thus:

“It shall not be lawful for the holder of a statutory right of occupancy granted by the governor to alienate his right of occupancy or any part thereof by assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease or otherwise howsoever without the consent of the governor first had and obtained”

In other words, the first person on a land is the only person or group of persons entitled to obtain a certificate of occupancy. Every subsequent buyer of that land must get a governor’s consent. There can only be one (1) owner of the certificate of occupancy on that land and it will not be replicated for another person once the land has been sold or transferred to another person.

A simple formula to follow is this. The first person on a virgin land that has neither been occupied by another person nor under acquisition by the government is entitled to get a certificate of occupancy on that land, if that person with the C of O decides to sell his land to another person after so many years, that person must now obtain the consent of the governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the government. If the new buyer now decides to sell the land again to a third owner in future, that third owner must also obtain a new consent of the governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the government and the process continues every time the property changes hands to a new buyer.

Leave a Reply