Only recently, a friend bought a house in Lagos.  Few weeks after he had made full payments and accepted from the seller just the documents that the seller chose to give him, he called to ask me whether it was wise of him to have accepted A DEED OF SUBLEASE.  In his words, “I have bought a house, the seller has given me a Deed of Sub-Lease, but when I bought a land some years earlier what I got was a Deed of Assignment. I hope my interest is well protected?  Well, we hope so, but maybe not.

It really depends on the nature of the title or interest the seller has or the scheme you bought from.  As you already know the seller can only give what he has..   Other times, it could just be that the seller is simply being “prudent”.   Any good lawyer who is familiar with real estate transactions can explain the difference between these two key documents (A DEED OF SUB-LEASE & A DEED OF ASSIGNMENT) , because indeed there is a DIFFERENCE that you ought to know before you buy. And don’t behave like that friend who came only after he had paid the seller.

Let me explain.  A Deed of Assignment gives you ALL THAT THE SELLER HAS on the land or house.  The buyer becomes the FULL OWNER, subject only to the provisions of the Land Use Act.  However, a Deed of Lease [Sub-Lease] is some form of LONG RENT OR LEASE, as the title eventually reverts to the Seller [the Lessor]. An assignment (Latin,  cessio) is a term used with similar meanings in the law of contracts and in the law of real estate. In both instances, it encompasses the transfer of all the rights held by one party—the assignor—to another party—the assignee.

Lagos State Government insists on deed of assignment

Here is a summary of the Notice issued by the LANDS BUREAU, GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, and Lagos State on the processing of title documents to land within Lagos State;

1) First, it says, the practice, of backdating or falsifying Land transaction documents and presenting such documents as having been made before the coming into force of the Land Use Act, 1978 is prohibited.

Officials of Lands Bureau have been instructed to reject applications for title documentation, if falsely dated and to refer such falsification to the office of the Honourable Attorney – General and Commissioner for Justice for investigation and possible prosecution of those found to have engaged in such criminal practice.

It then states, that henceforth ordinary purchase receipt or land transaction agreement not properly drafted in the usual format will no longer be accepted for the processing of consent to subsequent transaction.  There is a check list containing all requisite documents needed to process consent applications, which include the land information on the subject land and COPIES OF PROPERLY DRAFTED DEED OF ASSIGNMENT SIGNED BY PARTIES TO THE TRANSACTION, with which the necessary consent of the Governor would be processed.

In the earlier edition of my book (UNLOCKING THE WEALTH AND COMFORT IN REAL ESTATE) and in one of the periodic newsletters I mailed to friends and members of my mastermind group in 2013, titled “A Purchase Receipt is not Enough”, I advised that any purchaser of land and buildings ought to, apart from obtaining a receipt of payment from the vendor, contact a diligent Lawyer to draft the Deed of Assignment, which the parties should execute.