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Registering Properties In Nigeria: A Case For Streamlining The Process

In Lagos State, there are about seven stages involved in the perfection process and these are as follows:

1. Submission of an application for Governor’s Consent at the Lands Bureau. This application must be accompanied by relevant documents and evidence of payment of preliminary levies such as Application Fee, Charting Fee, Endorsement Fee and Administrative Charges, as prescribed by the Lands Bureau.

2. The application is referred to the office of the Surveyor General of Lagos State for the purposes of: (a) charting the relevant survey plan; (b) ascertaining that the land is free from government acquisition; and (c) ascertaining that the coordinates of the land as reflected in the relevant original survey, do not fall outside the vendor’s property.

3. Thereafter the application is returned to the Lands Bureau and an assessment letter is issued requesting the applicant to make the following payments:

(i) Consent Fee;
(ii) Stamp Duty;
(iii) Capital Gains Tax;
(iv) Registration Fee;
(v) Business Premises Charge (payable if the property is a business premises or if one of the parties is a company);
(vi) Direct Assessment (personal income tax of parties to the transaction); and
(vii) Neigbourhood Improvement Charge, (where applicable).

4. Payment receipts obtained in respect of the payments mentioned under (3) above, are then forwarded to the Lands Bureau.

5. The Deed is forwarded to any of the designated commissioners for the endorsement of the relevant portion of the Deed on behalf of the Governor, evincing the requisite Governor’s Consent to the transaction.

6. Subsequently, the Deed is stamped by the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (where parties are individuals) or the Federal Inland Revenue Service (where one of the parties is a company).

It is instructive to know that by virtue of section 22(4) of the Stamp Duties Act (Cap. S8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004), every instrument relating to any property situate in Nigeria must be duly stamped (following payment of appropriate duties). Without stamping, such instrument will not be acceptable for registration at the Lands Registry and will also be inadmissible in evidence in any court proceedings.

7. Following stamping, the Deed is presented to the Lagos State Lands Registry, for registration. Registration signifies the completion of the perfection process and a duly perfected original Deed (together with one counterpart Deed) is returned to the applicant.