Certificate Of Occupancy (C Of O) In Nigeria: Real Meaning and Benefits.

January 09, 2023

The Certificate of Occupancy, or C of O, is a vital document in the acquisition of land and property in Nigeria. Understanding it and knowing its benefits can save you from a lot of headaches and help in resolving disputes.¬†Certificate of Occupancy or C of O will have come up several times if you have any knowledge of Nigeria’s real estate market. If you want to buy land or property in Nigeria with an assurance of rights to it, then this is a vital document to seek out for.

Acquiring any form of land without a C of O will mean you cannot lay any legal claim to the land. Therefore, make sure that whoever is selling land to you has this document. If the real estate seller does not have access to the certificate Of Occupancy simply means he has no rights to dispose of the land in question. Of course, this means a sure investment down the drain ūüôĄ¬†

This article will try to answer some questions you may have about the Certificate Of Occupancy in Nigeria. What does it really mean? Why do I really need a Certificate of Occupancy? What are its benefits I should know?


What Is A Certificate Of Occupancy(C of O)?

In Nigeria, a Certificate of Occupancy, a government-issued land title document, is required as evidence of property ownership. 

Once you have this document for a piece of real estate property, you need not worry about breaking the law. With a Certificate Of Occupancy in Nigeria, you have the legal rights to occupy, rent it out, sell it, use it as collateral, etc.

Without a certificate of occupancy (C of O), a piece of land or property can be taken at any time by the government without notice or even compensation. It is a document you must check to verify ownership as we listed in a previous article How To Buy A Genuine Land In Lagos, Nigeria. Of course, this applies to every part of Nigeria. 

The document contains a lot of information, such as the 

  • File number,¬†
  • Certificate of Occupancy number,¬†
  • address of the property,¬†
  • Plot number and size,¬†
  • date of issue,¬†
  • Survey plan or graphic (plot shape),¬†
  • purpose of land use,¬†
  • Terms and Conditions,¬†
  • Initial annual ground rent fees,¬†
  • the purpose for which the land is used
  • Etc¬†

The Land Use Act of 1978 streamlined land administration in Nigeria by transferring ownership of all urban land within a state to the state governor (rural land is administered by the local governments in which they are found). Governors of the states received

It is important to note that the document does not provide land ownership as every piece of land belongs to the government. However, with the C of O, according to the Land Use Act of 1978, you possess the land for 99 years. This can be renewed afterward.

Also worth noting that every piece of real estate in Nigeria must be registered with the State or Federation Surveyor General before the state or federal government may issue a Certificate of Occupancy for it (Depending on whether the relevant land is owned by the state or the federal government, the competent authority will differ).

What are The Benefits Of Having An Occupancy Certificate in Nigeria?


Having read and understood the meaning of a Certificate Of Occupancy in Nigeria and what it contains, you would readily have seen its Indispensable advantage. 

Listed below are some of the many factors that make it worthwhile to get a Certificate of Occupancy in Nigeria:

  • With a C of O, the owner of the property has the exclusive right to it, which cannot be legally challenged by anybody else (excluding exceptional cases).
  • Unpaid compensation must be given to the holder of a C of O before the government can legally confiscate the property.
  • Your property with a C of O is worth more than any without it in several places. They may fetch a higher asking price than comparable properties without the document.
  • With a C of O to your property, you can use it as security for debts taken out from financial organizations.
  • If you possess a Certificate of Occupancy, you are eligible to start or participate in a mortgage transaction.¬†

In conclusion 

A certificate of occupancy is one of the very important legal papers to look out for when Buying A Land In Nigeria. In Nigeria, C of O is a document you cannot afford to ignore when investing in real estate. You need it if you must have authentic ownership rights.

Real Estate remains one of the best financial investments you can make in Nigeria. This is especially through the instability in Naira to US Dollar exchange rate. To avoid putting your money at risk, though, you must complete your research before making an investment. Never buy property without proper investigation and documentation. 

Feel free to contact us for all things concerning real estate investing in Nigeria.


By Udo Davis

Udo is a seasoned and highly experienced Real Estate expert. He holds a Higher National Diploma in Estate Management from the Federal Polytechnic Nekede Owerri, Imo State in 2000 and a registered member of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV).

Related Articles

Receive monthly insights for profitable investment in Nigeria real estate.