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Estate surveyors urge reduction in Lagos consent fees

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Disquiet appears to have attended land transaction charges in Lagos state, as estate surveyors are seeking a further reduction in consent fees and new machinery to hasten the processing of applications.

According to them, affordability of property registration, and the ease of land title procurement is an important component of transparency in land administration.

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Governor’s consent in Lagos and every other state in Nigeria are necessary to enable the holder of a Certificate Of Occupancy (C-of-O) or any other land title to sell or alienate property.

In 2015, Lagos authorities issued an Executive Order reducing fees and charges payable for processing governor’s consent in land transactions as required under the Land Use Act from 15 to three per cent.

The breakdown is as follows: Consent Fees 1.5 per cent, Capital Gains Tax 0.5 per cent, Stamp Duty 0.5 per cent, Registration fees 0.5per cent.

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Consent fees for mortgages were also reduced from two to 0.25 per cent of the loan amount.

The state is one of the biggest construction sites in the country, had been inundated with high charges in processing land documents and bureaucratic procedures in obtaining governor consent.

Specifically, the expected duration for obtaining the governor’s consent is 30 days, but the reality is that it could extend to six months or one year while one could end up spending more than expected.

The Guardian learned that recently, a new amendment was made in the processing of land titles, with the introduction of the N20, 000 publication fee, the appointment of eight commissioners to sign the governor’s consent, and the creation of digitisation unit to ensure ease of doing business.

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Speaking on the current consent fees and land administration in the state, a past chairman, NIESV, Lagos State branch, Sola Fatoki said a lot of people are not moved to process either C-of-O or governor’s consent because of the high cost.

He explained that if the rate is affordable, a lot of people will obtain the C-of-O, governor’s consent. Both documents are required in mortgage transactions.

The stages of obtaining land titles, he stated are still cumbersome. However, he declared that Lagos is better than some other states but there is room for improvement.

Fatoki said, “Governor’s consent shouldn’t be more than two weeks, and C-of-O should not be more than three months. People just buy the property and keep the documents in their houses. We know the government wants to make money and they can still make the money if they reduce the fees. Just like tax, it should be affordable”

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On his part, NIESV state’s branch chairman, Dotun Bamigbola said the blue book, which is used by the government in determining the rate isn’t in line with what is available in the market, otherwise called the actual market value of the property.

He urged the government to get ‘opinion of value’ certified by registered estate surveyors and valuers in determining the appropriate charges, which shouldn’t be more than one per cent and easier for people to pay.

“ There is no need of having the blue book, what is needed is the opinion of value. Values of properties go up and down. The blue book doesn’t reflect the economic situation of things”, he stated.

Speaking during a Webinar organised by NIESV, Lagos branch, a deputy director, Lagos State Lands Services Directorate, Olabisi Demola-Alade said the government is still working on modalities to further reduce the land transaction charges, adding that NIESV members will be involved in the decision process.

She said, “For now Deed of Assignment takes like eight to 12 weeks but we plan to go back to 30-days consent as it used to be, make it cheaper, better and faster.

“Members of the public will soon be able to apply for Governor’s consent online which will reduce or eliminate contact with the office.”

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