Many times as a real estate firm, we have often heard people voice their concerns about the C of O or the Governor’s Consent during our transactions. In many cases, clients honestly don’t know the difference between the two documents. Clearly, the Certificate of Occupancy (also referred to as the C of O) and the Governor’s Consent are both important documents that show proof of ownership of landed property. Is there really any difference in the two terms?
CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY
Generally, a Right of Occupancy (also known as a Certificate of Occupancy or C of O) is a document granted by state governments in Nigeria as a proof of ownership for landed property. However, a Certificate of Occupancy does not Constitute a good root of title except in instances where:
- The C of O was issued with respect to a state grant by the governor i.e Statutory right of Occupancy
- From the Certificate of occupancy, the holder has the means of proving title to the property e.g., Deed of Assignment (a Deed of Assignment is a document -an agreement between the seller and a buyer of a landed property and shows proof of ownership in favor of the seller).
The Governor’s Consent is the approval that must be given by a governor of a state or his delegate in any transaction that has to do with the transfer of ownership or other interests over land or landed property in order to make the transaction valid at law.
By virtue of Section 1 of the Land Use Act, all land in a state is vested in the governor of that state and shall be held in trust for the benefit of the citizens of the state. Thus, section 22 of the Land Use Act provides that a holder of a Statutory Right of Occupancy granted by the governor must obtain the Governor’s Consent before alienating his right of occupancy by way of Assignment, mortgage, sub-lease, or otherwise.
HERE’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM:
There can only be one owner of the C of O on a land and it will not be replicated for another person once the land has been sold or transferred to another person.
If the owner/ holder of the C of O decides to sell his land to another, that individual (the buyer) must obtain the CONSENT OF THE GOVERNOR (Governor’s Consent) before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eye of the law.
A further sale to a third owner will also be deemed legal only when the new buyer also obtains a new Governor’s consent before a legal interest can be deemed passed. And on and on it goes.