In Nigeria, the Certificate of Occupancy, or C of O, is the most important document to property buyers and landowners. The document is issued by the state governments in Nigeria and verifies that you own the land or property in question. Property purchased without a Certificate of Occupancy is the equivalent of buying a vehicle without a logbook. As a Nigerian landowner or property owner, this is not the kind of situation you want to find yourself in. You can read about the excision of land and the land tenure system in Nigeria.

One important thing you need to know about getting a Certificate of Occupancy (C OF O) is that it takes time. You may have to wait from 6 – 18 months to get the document signed by the Government. The best thing to do is to get all other legal documents intact while waiting for the C of O to get approved. Also bare in mind that you can as well collaborate with a group of land owners in your area to apply for a “Global C OF O”. See also “How to conduct Real estate due diligence”

Throughout this article, you will learn everything you need to know about obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) in Nigeria, including the steps to follow for doing so.

Characteristics of the Certificate of Occupancy

C of O’s are issued to the land which has first been registered with the Surveyor-General of the State or the Federation when the land is Federal land. An important part of charting the ground is determining if it is free of government acquisitions.

Here are some of the things found on the C of O:

  1. Certificate of Occupancy number
  2. File number
  3. Plot number
  4. Location details
  5. Plot size
  6. Survey plan or graphic (plot shape)
  7. Date of issue
  8. Lease term
  9. Initial annual ground rent fees
  10. Land use purpose
  11. Terms and conditions

Importance of having a Certificate of Occupancy

The following are the benefits of having a C of O;

  1. Having a C of O ascertains one as the owner of a plot of land or property.
  2. It prevents the Government from confiscating one’s land or property without compensation.
  3. Having a C of O increases the value of one’s land, particularly in Abuja.
  4. It prevents a situation where multiple owners claim a single property.

How do you get a C of O in Nigeria?

The process of applying for a certificate of occupancy varies depending on whether a private individual or the state government owns the land. A buyer of land directly from the state government must apply for a Certificate of Occupancy as soon as the sale of the property is finalized, as there is no doubt as to the ownership or authenticity of the power to sell this land.

When buying from families or the popular “omo onile”, be sure to make findings to ensure that the property indeed belongs to the people claiming ownership.

Upon confirming that the seller has legal ownership of the land being sold to you, you research if the seller already owns it. You only need to change the ownership title at the land registry if the person or entity you are buying from already has a C of O.

The second entity that is legally authorized to sell your land is the state government. When you buy directly from the government or a reputable real estate company in Nigeria, obtaining the C of O would be straightforward since it will be initiated as soon as the sale is confirmed.


POST SOURCE: Mixta Africa “C of O, Meaning and importance”