Deed of Assignment and its Importance in Land Transactions
Buying a property or piece of land should be a great moment of joy. But that great moment of joy can get turned on its head, to be followed by sorrow and regret. This can easily happen without proper due diligence. A lot of Nigerians have fell victim due to laxity in due diligence when transacting real estate.
When a property or piece of land is purchased or transferred from one owner to another, there are some important documents the new owner must obtain from the individual transferring the land. One of these documents is referred to as a Deed of Assignment and it is the most important legal document you need to get for your land. It is akin to getting a receipt from a retailer after purchasing a valuable item.
What is a Deed of Assignment?
By definition, a Deed of Assignment is simply a contract or an agreement between the seller of a piece of land and the buyer showing details and evidence that all title, rights, and interest of ownership of the land has been transferred to the buyer.
In legal terms, a Deed of Assignment is an agreement where an assignor declares a promise that from the assignment date or any date stated within the contract, the assignor allocates the entirety of its stake in that land or property to the assignee.
By these definitions, it is easy to understand why a Deed of Assignment has such importance in real estate transactions. It is considered a must for all transactions of transfer of ownership of land.
In Nigeria, it is believed that 6 out of 10 people have been victims to property fraudsters that pretend to be owners of a piece of land. They proceed to show off the land to numerous prospective buyers who would often accept a receipt as a proof of transfer of ownership.
So, in plain terms, a Deed of Assignment can be likened to the legal equivalent of a receipt for goods purchased at a store or the particulars of a newly bought vehicle. With the Deed of Assignment document, the bearer has all legal rights to the transferred property and can use it as he or she deem fit.
For a Deed of Assignment to be legally binding, it needs to clearly identify the seller and the buyer, and it must also contain the following information:
- Date of transfer of ownership
- Addresses of the seller and buyer and how they are binding to the successors, friends and other people who represent the seller and buyer in any capacity
- Price of purchase of property
- Detailed description of property, including the size of the property
- A history of transfer of ownership of property, from the date it was first acquired to the time it is to be sold to the new owner
- Covenants or promises that the buyer and seller will undertake in order to execute the deed
- A section for the Commissioner of Oaths or Governors Consent to authenticate and sign the agreement
- Signature of the seller and buyer
As a legally binding document in real estate transactions, a Deed of Assignment is often recorded in the local land registry as a proof of transfer of the property to the new owner. The format of a Deed of Assignment is made up of a cover page that show the identities of the buyer and seller as well as a description of the land; a second page that show the date of the transfer, names and location of buyer and seller, and a history of how the seller came into possession of the land; a third page that show the description and cost of the land, a survey plan number including the date and name of surveyor, and the promises that both buyer and seller would abide after the transaction is completed; and a last page that display signatures of the buyer and seller as well as signatures of witnesses to the transaction.
Because most property buyers are not familiar with the documents that are required to be prepared and transferred to them by land sellers, it is advisable for property buyers to always get the services of a lawyer in order to protect their interest during the course of property transactions.