Don’t be confused. Rectification and Ratification means 2 separate things but they sound alike. Rectification means to correct a grave error on a document while Ratification means giving formal consent to a contract or agreement thereby making it validly official.
To understand how Rectification of Title to Land differs from Ratification of Title to land, we have to understand what a Land title means so we can comprehend it quite easily.
WHAT IS LAND TITLE?
Land title may be defined as the rights or ownership claim a person has over a property. It simply means, for you to claim land title, you must show other people the right you have over that land. E.g the land was willed to you by your late grandfather or you bought the property from another person and he handed over the title documents of the land or there was a dispute on the land and a court judgement awarded you the land as the owner etc.
To determine what title a person has over a property, a prospective buyer must inspect the available documents the seller is relying on to initiate the transaction.
TYPES OF TITLE DOCUMENTS
There are several kinds of title documents however for the purpose of this discussion, we shall be examining three (3) basic types of title documents.
DEED OF ASSIGNMENT
This can be regarded as the most basic kind of title document as it is the most common. Upon the completion of a property transaction, it is expected that a deed of assignment be executed between the parties as proof and evidence that title has passed from the assignor to the assignee i.e from the seller(s) to the buyer(s).
For example, if Mrs. Nkechi has decided to purchase a Land from Alhaji Usman in Abeokuta, it is expected that a deed of assignment must be executed between both parties upon completion of the transaction showing that the property now belongs to Mrs. Nkechi.
In the event that Mrs. Nkechi in the nearest future decides to put the property up for sale, she will be relying on that deed of assignment as a land title document when dealing with a new prospective buyer.
DEED OF ASSIGNMENT
This is a document that shows the particular area of a land that belongs to an individual after he has purchased it and was allocated or transferred to him. It can also be called the geographical map of a person’s land. It is valid proof of title especially when a particular land is in dispute as to its exact location or boundary issues, a survey plan helps in resolving this dispute.
In reference to the aforementioned analogy, upon the completion of the transaction between Mrs Nkechi and Alhaji Usman, Mrs Nkechi is expected to engage the services of a registered surveyor to prepare a survey plan in her name in respect of the property she has just acquired from Alhaji Usman.
This is very necessary to avoid any future dispute as to the area that was sold to Mrs Nkechi especially if Alhaji Usman own a large expanse of land in that area and what he has sold to Mrs Nkechi is just a part of this large expanse of land not the whole expanse of land
CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY
This is the most important land document used to certify the legal and ownership status of any land in Nigeria irrespective of its usage. It is a legal document indicating that the person or persons whose name(s) appear on the document has been granted a statutory right of occupancy by the governor of the state where the land situates.
It simply means the holder of a Certificate of Occupancy has a right to occupy that land under the law. A certificate of occupancy can either be for residential, commercial or agricultural purpose. It is usually granted for a fixed term of 99 years and 25 years for agricultural lands.
Having briefly looked at the most common kinds of land title documents and their importance, one cannot help but ponder what happens if there is an error on these documents? If such error invalidates the title of the owner of the land and what remedies are available after the error is detected?
Upon discovery of an error in a title document, the only remedy available to the owner of the document is to seek rectification of such error which is the crux of our discussion. It is advisable that this error be rectified as quickly as possible to avoid loss of title as a defective title is no title.
For the sake of clarification, we shall consider the various title documents mentioned above and how to rectify a defect in this documents.
- Deed of assignment
Different errors could be discovered in a deed of assignment, it could be misspelt names of the parties, error as to the location of the property or execution of the documents itself. Rectification of such error depends on whether the deed of assignment is registered or not.
If the document is not registered, then the rectification process becomes quite simple as all that is required is for the assignee or buyer to get his lawyer to prepare a new deed of assignment showing all the correct information and have the document executed or signed again by the parties to the transaction.
In the case of a deed of assignment that has been registered by the registrar of titles, the process becomes a bit difficult. For the purpose of our discussion, we shall be examining rectification of a registered deed of assignment.
At this juncture it is important to note that to rectify any title document that has passed through registration process at the lands registry, a deed of rectification is required and a must. The next question that comes to mind is what is a deed of rectification?
A deed of rectification as the name connotes is a document executed by parties for the purpose of correcting an error in a previous deed. This only applies to error in a registered deed of assignment.
In rectifying a deed, there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled as well as certain documents that must accompany the drafted deed of rectification. These are:
Application letter addressed to the permanent secretary, lands bureau
Valid means of identification
Sworn affidavit with passport photograph attached
Newspaper publication (half page) in a widely circulated newspaper
Evidence of payment of prescribed fees.
Upon fulfillment of these requirements, the deed of rectification shall be processed and registered. This registered deed of rectification shall become attached to the initial deed of assignment so whoever conducts a search on the property at the lands registry shall see both documents.
- Survey plan
Oftentimes we find properties with defective survey plans, defects as to either the description of the property or its location. The good news is such defects are not incurable especially if the deed of assignment with the attached survey plan has been registered.
To cure such defect, the process is similar to a defective deed of assignment. The only difference is the corrected survey plan shall be included with the other documents required for the rectification process.
In other words, the requirements for rectification of a defective survey plan are the aforementioned listed requirements and copies of the corrected survey plan. Once the process is completed, the deed of rectification quoting details of the corrected survey plan shall be registered.
- Certificate of occupancy
As described earlier, a certificate of occupancy is granted to the first holder of title over a particular property by the governor of that state. In the event that there is a defect on this document, the onus is on the issuing authority to correct this defect upon application and fulfillment of requirements by the holder of the title.
It is worthy of note that rectification is usually obtained within 30 days from the payment of statutory fees for any of the title document.