If You Buy a Property With This Bad Type of Certificate of Occupancy, The Government May Demolish Your Property.

For a lot of property buyers, there is a preference for properties with Certificates of Occupancy commonly referred to as C of O. However, contrary to widespread beliefs, having the wrong type of C of O can make the buyer lose the land and the government demolishes the property.

In Nigeria, we have Residential, Mixed-Use, Commercial, Industrial, Agricultural and Utility Certificates of Occupancy. These stipulate what the land is supposed to be used for. If someone buys a land which the C of O states is for residential purposes and such person builds a shopping complex on it, the government can demolish that building.

The purpose of a property is written on the C of O. When someone is issued with a C of O, the purpose is written on it. You have Residential, Mixed-Use, Commercial, Industrial, Agricultural, Utility, etc written on it. There is a reason why it is written on it.

Unfortunately, a lot of real estate buyers in Nigeria have been scammed with the wrong types of C of Os.

In Lagos for instance, there are a lot of Agric C of Os given for 15 to 30 years which are close to termination. Those who the government issued the Agric C of Os to have resold to other persons who have now built. Because the new buyers saw C of O, they just bought the land and built, not knowing the difference between Agric C of O and other types. In fact, there are many buyers of properties in Lekki area who have fallen for this scam.

It is important to note that Agric C of Os are also very much genuine, it’s just that the purposes differ from that of Residential or Commercial C of Os.

To protect yourself as a buyer, once the seller presents a C of O, try to check 4 important things.

1. The purpose of the C of O. It is usually written on the front page. Residential, Agricultural, Industrial, Mixed-use, Commercial or Utility.

2. The time span of the C of O. This is written inside the C of O, page 2 or 3. No CofO is issued for infinity and the longest time span is usually 99 years for Residential CofOs. While Agric C of Os have a short lifespan of about 15 to 25 years, others are for much longer.

3. Commencement. The time the CofO commences is very important. It is written on the front page of the C of O and determines when it starts and the remaining lease left on the land. If you get a C of O commencing from 1991 and to last for 99 years, it means it is to expire in 2090 and you have 70 years left on the lease.

4. Covenants. This is very important because these are the hidden clauses where the main terms of the grant are hidden. The conditions upon which the CofO are granted are written here and it is advised that you read them properly.


Unfortunately, the government is not renewing these Agric C of Os, instead they are giving the parcels of land to new allottees which would now be residential C of Os. The new allottees are not those who bought from those with Agric C of Os, but majorly the original landowners who the holders of the Agric CofO bought from decades back. Those who bought and built with Agric C of Os would now have to contend with those issued new C of Os by the government. In the end, they would be forced to repurchase such lands for Millions of Naira from the holders of the new C of O or their properties would be demolished

To avoid this scam and dozens of other problems while buying properties in Nigeria, contact Landcheck to Verify such property before buying.

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