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Unlocking Peace of Mind: A Guide to Verifying Property Titles in Nigeria

Posted by bricksandclaypro on February 24, 2024

For investors, developers and homebuyers seeking peace of mind and legal security in Nigeria’s dynamic real estate market, the integrity of property titles is paramount. However, navigating the maze of verifying titles can be daunting and fraught with risk and uncertainty. In this guide, we outline the strategies and best practices for verifying the legitimacy of property titles in Nigeria, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions and protect their investments.

Understanding Property Titles: Before diving into the verification process, it’s important to understand the basics of title deeds in Nigeria. Title deeds are legal documents that serve to establish the rights of ownership of and interest in real estate assets. Common types of property titles include Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), Deed of Assignment, Governor’s Consent, and Registered Conveyance. Each title has specific legal implications and requirements. These must be carefully scrutinized during the verification process.

Verification Process:

1.    Conduct Preliminary Due Diligence: Start by gathering basic information about the property and its history. Request copies of relevant documents, including the title deed, survey plan, and any related agreements. If it is a structure, you can also request for the Building Plan Approval. Verify the identity of the owner(s) of the property and confirm their legal authority to transfer ownership.

2.    Verify Title Documents: Check against government records and registries to verify the authenticity of title documents. Check for discrepancies or irregularities in names, dates, and property descriptions. Confirm the validity of the signatures and the seals that are affixed to the documents.

3.    Search Government Records: Access government databases, such as the Land Registry, to verify the registration status of the property title. Ensure that the title is properly registered and free from encumbrances such as mortgages, liens or litigation. Request certified copies of the registration documents for verification purposes.

The Surveyor-General’s Office is another government body that plays a crucial role. They can verify the survey plan attached to the C of O, ensuring that the land coordinates and measurements are accurate and correspond to the actual land in question.

4.    Conduct Physical Inspection: Visit the property site to confirm its physical boundaries and features as described in the title documents. Verify the accuracy of survey plans and boundary markings on the ground. Look for any signs of encroachments, disputes, or unauthorized occupation.

5.    Verify Title Chain: Trace the ownership history of the property back to its original acquisition to ensure a clear and unbroken title chain. Investigate any transfers, transactions, or encumbrances affecting the property over time. Verify the authenticity of all intermediate documents and agreements in the title chain.

6.    Obtain Title Insurance: Consider obtaining title insurance coverage to protect against potential title defects, disputes, or claims. Title insurance policies provide financial indemnity and legal defense in the event of unforeseen title issues arising after the property transaction.

7.    Seek Legal Advice: It’s not advisable to take on the tasks listed above by yourself. As such, consult with a qualified real estate attorney or legal expert to review the title documents and provide professional guidance. Solicit their opinion on the validity and enforceability of the title, as well as any potential legal risks or liabilities.

Other things to note are as follows:

A – To resolve potential discrepancies, you would typically engage a surveyor to conduct a fresh survey. If the new survey results differ from those in the title deed, it may be necessary to update the title deed or even re-negotiate the terms of the property transaction as well as the price, especially if the survey result shows a lesser land square meters (sqm) as against what is writing in the tittle deed.

B – Understanding zoning laws and land use restrictions is also important. This information can typically be obtained from the local planning authority or municipal council. Zoning laws determine how a property can be used, whether for residential, commercial, agricultural, or industrial purposes. Take note of this so you don’t fall on the left side of the law.

C – Land use restrictions can impact future development plans or even the current use of the property. For example, if you plan to build on a piece of land, ensure that it won’t obstruct current or future development plan of the government. Just like the Regional road project in Lekki, that led to the removal of all structures that obstructed the road project.


The verification of the legitimacy of a property title in Nigeria is a critical step in the real estate transaction process, as it is a safeguard against legal risks and an assurance of property security. Stakeholders can mitigate the inherent uncertainties of the property market and make informed decisions with confidence by following the verification process outlined above. Keep in mind that diligence and due diligence are the foundation of a successful title verification process and it paves the way for a seamless and secure property transaction.

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