REAL ESTATE LAW IN NIGERIA
Nigerian real estate laws can be divided into federal laws and state laws.
REAL ESTATE LAW IN NIGERIA
Nigerian real estate laws can be divided into federal laws and state laws. At the federal level are laws that govern the country as a whole. There are also regional laws governing some sections of the country. The following section discusses a few national and local laws.
THE 1999 CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA: Section 43 of the 1999 Constitution provides as follows “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.” Going by the above provision, the right of every Nigerian, either individual or cooperation is guaranteed.
LAND USE ACT OF 1978: When the Land Use Act was created in 1978, it altered the way that land was owned before that time. Land was previously owned by families or communities before this law. The most important aspect of the law is that it grants the governor of each state in Nigeria custody of all the land, to be held in trust. The Governor becomes the overlord of the entire property as a trustee, while the original exclusive proprietors are now formally tenants. The Supreme Court in Nkwocha v. The Governor of Anambra (1984) 6 S.C. 362 has said that “the tenor of the Act as a single piece of legislation, is the nationalisation of land in the country by the vesting of its ownership in the State, leaving the private individual with an interest in land which is a mere right of occupancy…”
The law also provided that the state and local government have the duty of issuing a statutory right of occupancy to lands. The words ” statutory right of occupancy ” shows that the land is not outrightly owned by the person but that it will expire after a period of time. The law further provides that land cannot be sold or alienated in any way by the holder of a statutory right of occupancy without the consent of the governor first sought and obtained and there is a penalty for anyone who breaches this provision of the law. Consequently, it will be unlawful for any person whose interest in the property has been vested by virtue of a Deed of Assignment or Deed of Conveyance to decline to obtain the consent of a governor of the state where the property is located
NIGERIAN URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING ACT: This act regulates the management of urban and regional planning in Nigeria. It also takes care of complaints and grievances on issues like the demolition of houses and the likes.
RENT CONTROL AND RECOVERY OF PREMISES ACT: This Act provides procedures 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: This act provides for several instances where a land transaction would involve the payment of stamp duty. According to the type of property and the sum of money involved in the transaction, it provides for the computation of stamp duty.
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. Taxes are levied on gains from the sale of assets, as well as from properties sold outside of Nigeria but brought back into the country. 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: Except for a few states that are exempt, this Act regulates real estate transactions and conveyancing in both the northern and southern regions of Nigeria. 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 of Nigeria's western states and regulates the purchase of real estate in the following states: Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, and portions of Lagos.
STATE LAWS GOVERNING PROPERTIES
Apart from the Land Use Act, each state also enacts various laws regulating real estates. In Lagos State, the following laws governing properties:
THE ACQUISITION OF LANDS BY ALIENS LAW: This law specifies the steps that foreigners must take in order to acquire land in Nigeria as well as the restrictions they must meet. Aliens must also have the governor's approval in order to purchase land in Nigeria, according to this statute. The alien cannot also alienate the land in any form whether to a fellow alien or to a Nigerian citizen without obtaining the governor’s consent as well.
LAND USE CHARGE LAW: This law provides a compilation of all land and property-related based rates in Lagos.
TENANCY LAW OF LAGOS STATE 2011: This law makes provisions for the tenancy and recovery of premises in Lagos State. The law prohibits collection of rents beyond a period of two years save for only four areas in Lagos State to wit: Apapa, Ikeja GRA, Ikoyi and Victoria Island. The law allows for freedom of contract between landlords and tenants such as issues of the length of tenancy but if some issues or all are not provided for, then the provisions of this law will prevail. The law will also apply to lease agreements as they are similar to tenancy agreements
THE LAGOS STATE PROPERTY PROTECTION LAW: Given that land grabbing is a significant problem for property owners in Lagos, this law offers protection from the actions of "omo oniles" (land grabbing in Lagos State). It forbids the unauthorized habitation of lands, trespassing onto lands without permission, land-related violence, and land-related fraud.
This law also contains some retrospective provisions, protecting people against acts carried out against them even before the law came into being. There are sanctions attached to the breach of the provisions of this law such as imprisonment and payment of a fine. The law also sanctions trespassers and encroachers who remain in possession of land even after they have been told to vacate such lands. Legal practitioners and real estate agents can also be sanctioned if they are involved in any illegal land transactions and be charged for the criminal offense of aiding and abetting.
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.
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