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Understanding the Necessary Steps for Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy in Lagos

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Obtaining a certificate of occupancy (C of O) in Lagos, Nigeria, is a complex process that requires navigating various paperwork and regulations issued and certified by the Lagos State Government.

So in this article, we will give you insider secrets on obtaining it. Also, we will explain more about the qualities of and the significance of the certificate of occupancy (C of O).

To sum it all up, we will explain the advantages of the C of O so that you know your rights, show you the insides of a C of O paperwork, inform you on how to avoid delays and mistakes, and a bunch of other exciting perks. Therefore, set yourself up for success by learning the invaluable info in this article.

What Is a Certificate of Occupancy?

A Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is a document issued and certified by an officially recognized local government agency in Lagos State.

It is an important step in building a new home, commercial property, or simply owning a property as this is often required for transferring ownership, making transactions, and obtaining property protection from the Government.

More importantly, it is a must-have document when sharing the rights of occupancy or ownership with a third party. Fortunately, unlike the rights of occupancy, the C of O gives you a higher recognition regarding property ownership.

The process of obtaining a C of O varies by location within Lagos state. Generally, it involves submitting building plans and obtaining various legal approvals from certified agencies working for the Lagos Government.

The building must also pass an inspection to ensure it is safe and compliant with all relevant codes and regulations. Once all requirements are met, the Government issues your occupancy certificate.

Yes, the C of O also proves that the building structure has been inspected and deemed to comply with the local building codes and zoning regulations.

Importance of Having a Certificate of Occupancy

According to the provision of Section 9 of the Land Use Act 1978, “the state Governor in Nigeria, where the land is located, has the power to issue the certificate of occupancy”. Going further, the Section states that “any person entitled to a statutory right of occupancy may issue a certificate under his hand as evidence of such right of occupancy.”

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Therefore, it is a relief to know that the title of the documents for your certificate of occupancy is unique only to your property and it is impossible to have two C of O documents with the same title.

The other important prerequisites to note about the C of O include the following:

Legal Requirement

A certificate of occupancy is a legal requirement for occupying a building. Without it, the building is considered illegally occupied and the occupants are subject to eviction or fines.

Transfer of Ownership

A certificate of occupancy is an essential land document when looking to transfer property ownership. Without it, the sale of the property becomes illegal and unrecognized by the Government: and the new owner may not be able to receive Government help in the matters of that property.

Safety and Compliance

A certificate of occupancy can prove that the building has been inspected and deemed to comply with local building codes and zoning regulations. It ensures that the building is safe for occupancy and meets the standards set by the local Government.

Prevent Confiscation

It prevents Government officials from confiscating one’s land or property without compensation.


Before providing coverage for the property, certain insurance companies may demand a certificate of occupancy as a trusted evidence title of conformity with local building codes.


Some local government agencies may require a certificate of occupancy as proof of compliance before issuing property tax bills or collecting property taxes.


A certificate of occupancy may be necessary before landlords or property managers can rent or lease a home to renters.

The Maintenance Requirement

A certificate of occupancy is not a one-time document. To remain the legal owner of your property, you must frequently renew the C of O from time to time. This helps the Government ensure that your building continues to meet its citizen’s safety and occupancy standards.

Paperwork/Regulations Needed for Obtaining C of O

Obtaining a certificate of occupancy (C of O) in Lagos, Nigeria, involves navigating several types of paperwork and regulations. Knowing the below-required legitimate documents makes obtaining your C of O easier without unnecessary delays.

Although they may vary depending on the type of property, here is a table of some standard paperwork that you may require:

A copy of the tenement rate receipt (if the property is occupied)Copies of the original Survey PlanCopies of your current development levy receipts
Your property building plansPassport photographs with white backgroundA Publication Fee of N10,000.00
Location of land detailsA sketch map of the site locationCapital contribution fee subject to a minimum of N30,000.00
A completed Certificate of Occupancy Form with a receiptDuly stamped purchase receiptA Formal Letter
A Land Information Certificate with a receiptEvidence of payment of Income TaxSignature and seal
Collection of your payment receiptsAllocation formLand purchase receipt (if you bought the land from a citizen)

A Step-By-Step Guide to Obtaining C of O in Lagos

Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) in Lagos, Nigeria, is an intricate process that requires the Government to sign various documents and regulations.

First, you need to check who owns the land. If the State Government is not the land owner, meaning it is non-state-owned land, you need to simply obtain the owner’s C of O and update it legally through the below steps.

Fortunately, if it happens to be a state-owned land, you can still obtain your C of O with the below steps: 

Step 1: Submission of Forms and Documents

Purchase your application forms, fill them out, and submit the entire file along with the above documents. Please, remember; you must submit all the required property documents to certified government agencies, e.g., the land registry departments.

Step 2: Payment of fees

At this stage, you’re required to pay all government fees requested by the Government if you want to get some certified documented ownership of your property. A complex network of Government agencies usually determines the price of this fee and depends on the current value of the Nigerian Naira.

Step 3: Site Inspection on the property

After other concerned Government agency, surveyor, etc., has registered you as a certified property owner, they will assign representatives to inspect it. Their job here is to ensure that all information on your document aligns with what you built and that you followed the regulations for building a property.

Step 4: Approval of the C of O Title

If the inspection result is successful, relevant agencies working for the Lagos State Ministry approve the updates and pass them to the higher and final stage.

Step 5: Signing and Issuing the C of O Certificate

Once all the bodies working under the Lagos State Ministry recognizes and approve the update on the then Government-owned land, your C of O will be sent to the Lagos State Government itself. Here the Government finally recognizes your approved/stamped C of O.

Tips for Avoiding Delays or Additional Costs

  • To save money and avoid paying forms for land that Government has plans for, try observing the land in question. For example, lands with signs of recent development are most likely unavailable. This way, you avoid stories that touch your standard of living.
  • Ensure your building plans are complete and comply with all relevant regulations before submitting them for approval.
  • Obtain all necessary permits and approvals from relevant authorities before beginning construction.
  • Keep accurate and detailed records of all construction activities, including inspections and approvals from relevant authorities.
  • Have good communication with the local Government and stay updated with the process and procedures.
  • Hire a professional and experienced architect or engineer to oversee the construction process and ensure compliance with all regulations.
  • Be prepared to pay any fees or fines that local authorities may require, and budget for these costs in advance.
  • Have all the required documents ready when applying for the certificate of occupancy.
  • Be prompt in responding to any requests or questions from local authorities during the process.
  • Be patient and persistent, as the process can take some time.
  • Keep copies of all relevant documents and correspondence throughout the process to ensure you have all the information you need in case any issues arise.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Applying for a Certificate of Occupancy

Hire a Real Estate Agent

The plain truth is that a real estate agent can help you easily own a C of O with their experience or training in matters like this. So if you have no prior knowledge, we highly recommend you hire a certified real estate agent. 

Provide All Required Documents

Make sure to gather all necessary documents, such as property deeds and building plans, before submitting your application.

Try to Meet Zoning Requirements

Ensure the property you are trying to obtain a certificate of occupancy for complies with local zoning regulations.

Follow All Building Code Rules and Regulations

Before applying for an occupancy certificate, ensure you follow the correct building code rules and regulations. If you made a mistake, correct it before applying for a C of O.

Submit Your Application to the Proper Authority

Make sure to submit your application to the correct government agency, such as ES LUAC or SSA department.

Consider the Land

Also, pay attention to the land location, i.e., the land type. If you are interested in, for example, prime land within the Lekki Peninsula Schemes, ensure you collect your application form from their address.

Use Correct Information

It is easy to get misinformed, pay to the incorrect agency, input incorrect information, etc. So to avoid this, ensure your data is from a trusted source such as an experienced citizen or real estate agent.

Advantages Associated With Obtaining Your Certificate of Occupancy

Obtaining a certificate of occupancy (C of O) in Lagos, Nigeria, can have several advantages, including:

Legal Recognition of Ownership

A certificate of occupancy is legitimate proof that you are the valid land owner of the property in question, which can be used in court to settle disputes over ownership title.

Facilitation of Property Transactions

Having a certificate of occupancy in place makes it easier to buy, sell, or lease a property, as it eliminates doubts about the legality of the transaction.

Increase in Property Value

Properties with a certificate of occupancy are generally considered more valuable than those without, as they are deemed to be legally compliant and free of encumbrances.

Eligibility for Government Grants and Loans

Some government programs require a certificate of occupancy as a prerequisite for applying for grants or loans.

Compliance With Zoning Regulations

The Lagos State Government requires a Certificate of Occupancy before any property can be developed or used commercially, ensuring compliance with zoning regulations.

Access to Infrastructure

Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy may give you access to infrastructure such as water, sewage, and electricity, as some of these services may be restricted to properties with a valid Certificate of Occupancy.

Ease of Obtaining Building Permits

A Certificate of Occupancy is often required to obtain building permits, making it easier to make renovations or additions to a property with a signed certificate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Procedure for Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy?

The process for obtaining your certificate of occupancy includes just 3 steps. Below are the breakdown steps:
Submit your application forms.
Pay the requested inspection fees.
Collect the issued C of O from the land registry.

How Can I Get C of O for Land in Nigeria?

You can get a C of O for land in Nigeria by following all the rules and regulations of owning a Lagos state land, speaking in a friendly approach because Nigerians value respect, and lastly, designating a massive amount for paying all the possible Government assessment fees.

How Long Does It Take to Process C of O in Nigeria?

Typically, it can take the Lagos state government a total of 111 days to process your C of O. This is so if you are counting from the day you initially submitted your first application.

Where Can I Get My C of O?

You can get your C of O at the government land registry closest to the land you are interested in. Alternatively, you can visit the Executive Secretary of Lagos State at the Land Use and Allocation Committee, Block 13, Room 4, Land Bureau, The Secretary Alausa, Ikeja.

What Is the Difference Between a Certificate and a Certificate of Occupancy?

The significant difference between a C of O and a certificate is the literal specificity of each term. C of O is legal proof that shows you have legal occupancy over land through the land title document. In comparison, the term certificate is a simple word that generally means signed evidence of payment for something.

Final Thought

Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy certificate in Lagos, Nigeria, can be a highly daunting and protracted process. To solve this issue, consider getting a Government-approved property number so that you can have some legal rights pending when your C of O is issued.

Apart from the above advice from an experienced resident of Lagos State, you can hasten your C of O issuance by having a considerable amount of money to avoid unnecessary debt caused by applying for loans from banks.

Also, having enough money will help you make immediate payments whenever the Government agency contacts you. So whatever you do, ensure the agency you are in touch with is legal to obtain a legal C of O.

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