Before purchasing a property, it is essential for you to conduct your due diligence. In this piece, Ayobayo Babade, a lawyer, real estate broker and agro-business consultant explained that there are five places where you can conduct a search on your property before purchase. Babade, who heads the Legal Advisory & Business Development arm of Tope Babade and Co., said this depends on the title the property has and the facts surrounding the sale.
1. Lands Registry: If the property has a registered title like a Crown Grant, Land Certificate, Registered Conveyance, Registered Court Judgement, Certificate of Occupancy, or a Governor’s Consent, the place to search is the Lands Registry where you are to obtain the Certified True Copy of the registered title. This is because the Lands Registry keeps record of transactions to land which have been brought to the knowledge of the state through the process of registration.
2. Surveyor General’s Office: If the property does not have a registered title and you desire to know the status of the land as well as the zoning, the Surveyor General’s Office is the place to go to where you are to obtain a Land Information Certificate (LIC). The LIC will inform you about the status of the land – free, excised, acquired or committed as well as the zoning of the land – Residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural. This will also assist the buyer to know what title will be processed on the property – Certificate of Occupancy, Ratification or if no title can be gotten on the property.
3. Probate Registry: The Probate Section of the Court is the segment saddled with the responsibility of dealing with matters relating to the estate of a deceased person. If the holder of the registered title is deceased, there will be the need for a Probate search to determine the authenticity of the Probate Grant or Letters of Administration. If the title holder makes a Will before his death, the Will will be entered into Probate and a Probate Grant will be obtained before an Assent will be made by the Executors of the Will to the named beneficiaries. If the property holder dies without a Will, the survivors will apply for a Letter of Administration to administer the Estate of the deceased. The Administrators of the Estate shall be legally entitled to transfer the property to the would-be buyer.
4. Court Registry: If there is a suspicion of a legal dispute relating to the property, a search in the Court Registry should be conducted. When there is a legal dispute in relation to a property, such property is said to be Lis Pendens. Lagos State has the Lagos State Lis Pendens Electronic Information System accessible online at http://lagoslispendens.com.ng/ which shows properties that have pending litigation at any of the divisions of the Lagos State High Court. A search on the platform can give preliminary information regarding the existence of a legal dispute in relation to the property.
5. Social Search: If after you have done the other searches above, you still feel the need to probe further, a social search is recommended. My father and real estate mentor, Mr. Tope Babade, often says that “If your instincts tell you something is wrong with a transaction; check again, something is wrong somewhere.” One of the most revealing searches to conduct is what I term “Social Search.” This involves going to the property in question and asking neighbors, shop owners and transporters (like Okada men) in the area about the property in question. Facts about the property not revealed in documents are often revealed via Social Search.
Ayobayo Babade could be reached via Phone: +234 813 834 4488 and; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org