The main laws that govern real estate in Nigeria are:
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 Cap C23, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 (as amended) which guarantees the right of every Nigerian to own and acquire real property/estate in any part of the country.
The Land Use Act 1978 Cap L5, LFN 2004, which primarily regulates land ownership in Nigeria.It enhances the principle of leasehold by which land in each state is vested in the governor of a state, to be held in trust for the benefit of Nigerians within the state.
Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act: This act governs the management of urban and regional planning in Nigeria. It also takes care of complaints and grievances on issues like the demolition of houses.
Rent control and Recovery of Premises Act: This Act provides steps to be followed by landlords in evicting tenants from his building. The law is strictly against self-help in the eviction of tenants and the landlord must follow the required procedure set down by the law in achieving this.
Stamp Duty Act: The stamp duty act provides for several instances where a land transaction would involve the payment of stamp duty. It makes provision for the calculation of stamp duty based on the type of property and the amount of money involved in a transaction.
Capital Gains Tax Act: This Act operates at the federal level and states like Lagos State. This Act provides for a tax that is chargeable upon the disposal or sale of and assets. In the Act, real estate is defined to be one of the assets. The tax is charged on the profits on the proceeds of assets that are sold and also properties sold outside Nigeria but the proceeds brought into Nigeria. This is at the rate of 10 percent on each disposal. The procedure for calculating this tax is also provided for in the laws.
Conveyancing Act 1881: This Act governs conveyancing and property transactions in both the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria save for a few states exempted. The Conveyancing Act is one of the oldest real estate laws in operation in Nigeria.
Property and Conveyancing Laws (PCL): The PCL essentially governs the transfer and general property transactions in the western part of Nigeria. This law is currently domesticated in all western states of Nigeria and it governs the acquisition of properties in the following states- Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, and some parts of Lagos.
Real estate is, however, largely regulated by the laws in the state in which the land is situated and differs from state to state.Some of these laws are:
Tenancy Law of Lagos State 2011 which makes provisions for the tenancy and recovery of premises in Lagos State. The law allows for freedom of contract between landlords and tenants such as issues of the length of tenancy. The law also applies to lease agreements as they are similar to tenancy agreements
The Lagos State Property Protection Law: This law provides protection from the acts of “omo oniles” (land grabbers in Lagos State), as this is a serious issue affecting property owners in Lagos. It prevents the illegal occupation of lands, forceful entry into lands, violence in relation to lands and fraud conducted as regards landed properties.
Tenement Rate Laws of Nigeria: These taxes are levied on landed properties by local governments, in order to raise income for the local government. This law was established to collect taxes from people who have already built their properties. Tenement rates laws exist in all states within Nigeria.
Land Instrument Registration Law: The Land Instruments Registration Law of Lagos State mandates the registration of any document affecting land in Lagos State at the Lands Registry. Non-registration of such any document that requires registration implies the document is void. This law together with the Land Use Act regulates the procedure for registering properties in Lagos.
Registration of Titles Law: This law governs the conveyancing and registration of property titles in some parts of Lagos State. These areas include Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lagos Island, Surulere, and others.