How to Obtain Your Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) in Nigeria: Focus on Lagos and Ogun State

In Nigeria, owning a piece of land or property is not only a symbol of security but also a significant investment. However, to establish your ownership legally, you need a document that provides concrete proof – a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO). This article will walk you through the intricacies of obtaining a CofO in Nigeria, with a special emphasis on the processes in Lagos and Ogun State.

Understanding the Certificate of Occupancy (CofO)

In Nigeria, there are several documents that can indicate ownership of land or property. These include Assent, Court vesting order, Deed of assignment/conveyance, Deed of legal mortgage, Deed of gift, Right of Occupancy, and the most popular of them all – the Certificate of Occupancy (CofO).

The CofO holds a special place due to its statutory nature and the trust financial institutions place in it as collateral. It’s important to note that while the CofO serves as proof of ownership, the process of obtaining one can vary from state to state within Nigeria.

What is a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO)?

A Certificate of Occupancy, often referred to as a C of O, is a document issued by state governments in Nigeria to landowners and property buyers as legitimate proof of ownership. However, it’s not an absolute right; it’s granted at the discretion of the Governor of the state where the land is located after certain conditions have been met.

Application for Certificate of Occupancy (CofO)

The application process for a CofO depends on whether you’re obtaining the land from the State Government or a private individual. If you’re purchasing directly from the State Government, you can begin the application as soon as the property sale is finalized since there’s no doubt about ownership or the power to sell the land. On the other hand, when buying from families or local landowners (“omo onile”), it’s essential to conduct thorough due diligence to ensure that the property indeed belongs to the claimants.

Requirements for CofO in Lagos State

For those looking to obtain a CofO in Lagos State, the process involves providing specific documents and fulfilling certain requirements. Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need:

  1. Land Information Certificate: A crucial document confirming land information.
  2. Receipt for Land Information Fee: Proof of payment for land information services.
  3. Receipt for Application Form: Verification of application form payment.
  4. Publication/Inspection Fee: Payment for publication and inspection processes.
  5. Capital Contribution: Calculated based on the land’s size and location.
  6. Land Purchase Receipt/Agreement: A duly stamped agreement confirming the land purchase.
  7. Copy of Current Tax Clearance Certificate (Individuals): Proof of tax compliance.
  8. Copy of N100 Development Levy Receipt: Payment receipt for development levy.
  9. Site Location Sketch: A sketch indicating the land’s location.
  10. Four Passport Photographs of Applicant with White Background: Identification.
  11. Copy of Approved Building Plan (if developed): Required if the land has been developed.
  12. Copy of Tenement Rate Receipt (if occupied) or Land Use Charge: Proof of occupancy.
  13. Cover Letter Addressed to the Executive Secretary, Land Use Allocation Committee (LUAC): A formal letter stating all attached documents and your address.

Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) Process in Lagos State, Nigeria

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of obtaining a CofO in Lagos State:

1. File an Application for Land Information: This is done at the Surveyor General’s office at Alausa. The cost typically ranges between ₦10,000 to ₦12,000.

2. Purchase the Private Certificate of Occupancy Application Form: Obtain this form, as it will be required for your application.

3. Submit the Application Form with the Documents: Provide all the necessary documents mentioned earlier along with your application form.

4. Publication and Objection Period: A publication is made to allow any interested party to object to your application within 21 days. This process costs ₦10,000.

5. Site Inspection and Report: The Land Use Allocation Committee conducts a site inspection and compiles a report. This report is used to process the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy.

6. Drafting and Recommendation: The Certificate of Occupancy is drafted, typed, and submitted for recommendation by the Executive Secretary of the Land Use Allocation Committee, Senior Special Assistant Lands, and Permanent Secretary Lands.

7. Execution by the Governor: The Certificate of Occupancy is executed by the Governor of Lagos State.

8. Stamp Duty and Registration: The CofO is duly stamped by the Commissioner for Stamp Duties and registered at the registry.

9. Collection of CofO: The duly executed and registered Certificate of Occupancy can be picked up from the Land Use Allocation Committee collection office.

Required Fees for a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) in Lagos, Nigeria

When applying for a CofO in Lagos, you’ll encounter two types of fees: administrative fees and statutory fees. Administrative fees may change from time to time, while statutory fees are calculated based on the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the property. The FMV is typically calculated per square meter, depending on the land’s location. Here’s a breakdown of the statutory fees:

  • Consent Fee: 1.5% of the Fair Market Value.
  • Capital Gains Tax: 0.5% of the Fair Market Value.
  • Stamp Duty: 0.5% of the Market Value.
  • Registration Fees: 0.5% of the Fair Market Value.

These fees can significantly impact your budget, so it’s essential to be aware of them and factor them into your financial plan when applying for a CofO.

Electronic Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) in Lagos, Nigeria

In 2015, the Lagos State Government introduced the Electronic Certificate of Occupancy to simplify the process of land transactions and enhance security. The Electronic CofO is designed to replace all existing CofOs eventually. Its primary objectives are to automate and computerize the issuance of CofOs, reduce the bulk of documents required for land transactions, and preventing fraudulent transactions.

One of the key benefits of the Electronic CofO is its verification process. By inputting the CofO number into a computer system, buyers can access all existing transactions related to the property. This feature ensures that buyers can easily determine if a property is encumbered or not, providing greater confidence in land transactions.

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Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy in Nigeria, whether in Lagos, Ogun State, or any other region, is a critical step in securing your land ownership rights. While the process can be complex and involve several steps, it’s an essential investment that provides legal proof of ownership and unlocks numerous opportunities.

Remember to adhere to the specific requirements and fees outlined by the state in which you’re applying for a CofO. Be diligent in your application, and consider seeking legal guidance to navigate any potential challenges.

With a Certificate of Occupancy in hand, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your property rights are legally protected and that you’ve made a solid investment in Nigeria’s dynamic real estate landscape.

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