Almost everyone interested in landed properties have heard about C of O. What really is C of O? C of O which means “Certificate of Occupancy” is a document issued by state governments in Nigeria to landowners and property buyers as a legitimate proof of ownership. This document also spells out what the land can be used for; residential, commercial or mixed development. A certificate of occupancy is an essential document for every rental or investment property owner.
The certificate of occupancy describes what class the property is in. It could be classified as a residential building, which includes single family and multifamily properties, a retail property, a commercial building, an industrial building, or a mixed-use property. This classification is to prevent the property from being used in a way it was not intended, for example, using a residential property as a hair salon.
Also, certificate of occupancy serves as proof that a property has complied with all standards and codes and is now fit for habitation. Depending on what the structure is used for, this could be occupancy by a residential tenant, by a commercial tenant or by a retail store and its customers. Obtaining a certificate of occupancy will serve as proof that the building has conformed to all housing and building codes. This is helpful if a tenant tries to complain about violations of the property.
Who needs a Certificate of Occupancy?
It is important to check with your local town because each town has different requirements. Some common reasons for needing a certificate of occupancy are:
New Construction- Newly constructed buildings usually need to apply for a certificate of occupancy.
Property Conversion- When a property is changing from one use to another, a certificate of occupancy is usually required. For example, a warehouse that is being converted to residential lofts.
Change of Ownership- When a multi-family property, industrial property, or other commercial space changes ownership, a new certificate of occupancy is usually required.
Major Construction- Some towns will require you to get a certificate of occupancy for construction that can change the occupancy of the property or that changes the way in which you exit the property.
Where to get a Certificate of Occupancy?
A certificate of occupancy can be obtained through the local government, usually in the town or county’s building department or department of housing. The request has to be made before any work is actually done. A certificate of occupancy will not be issued, however, until the property has passed all inspection requirements and any fines on the property have been paid. If it turns out your local laws require you to get a certificate of occupancy for the type of property you have or for the work you are doing and you did not, you could be fined or even sued by the town. This fine could accrue for each day you had the property but did not have the certificate of occupancy.
Steps to Obtaining C of O for State-Owned Land
Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy requires following a clearly spelt out procedure that takes a minimum of 21 working days. It is important to find out for sure that your land or property is not already under acquisition. Take a look at the steps below:
- Applicant purchase and submit application pack to Land Use Allocation Committee (LUAC)
- Applicant collects acknowledgement slip
- Applicant collects letter of offer of allocation
- Applicants pay for allocated land
- Applicant is issued a letter of confirmation with plot and block number (Note that full payments must be made before Plots & Blocks are allocated)
- The Scheme Officer processes application for C of O
- The Scheme Officer signs off on the file and forwards files to Executive Secretary LUAC
- The Surveyor General provides Scheme Officer with digitized survey
- The Executive Secretary LUAC approves processing and signs letter of allocation
- The Executive Secretary LUAC signs off on the file
- The Executive Secretary LUAC sends file to the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on Lands
- The Senior Special Assistant (Lands) vets entire file and sends file/application with a covering memo to the Permanent Secretary (PS) Lands Bureau
- If file has a query, message is relayed back by notification; PS Lands signs off on the memo and sends file to Governor
- The Governor approves file and electronically signs the C of O
- If the file has a query, a message is relayed back by notification.
- Upon approval and signing of C of O, the Governor signs off and sends file to the Deputy Registrar for further processing
- The Deputy Registrar processes file further, signs off and send the file to the Registrar of Titles for final registration
- The Registrar of Titles registers the C of O, signs off and request for printing of C of O
Please be warned, the state government has warned landowners and property owners to be wary of fake and cloned Certificates of Occupancy.
To save yourself the stress of going through all these process, buy your properties from a real estate firm… Like Christal Homes. You won’t have to go through this process as they would have done all these and deliver the C of O to you.