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How to Handle Property Disputes in Nigeria

Posted by John Igbaifua on May 18, 2024

Property disputes are a common issue in Nigeria, often arising from unclear land titles, fraudulent transactions, boundary disagreements, inheritance conflicts, and lease misunderstandings.

Resolving these disputes requires a clear understanding of Nigerian property laws, a strategic approach, and sometimes, legal intervention. This blog will provide practical steps to handle property disputes in Nigeria, illustrated with real-life examples and stories.

Understanding the Root Causes of Property Disputes

Before diving into the resolution process, it’s essential to understand the common causes of property disputes in Nigeria:

  1. Unclear Land Titles: Many properties in Nigeria suffer from unclear or improperly documented titles, leading to multiple claims.
  2. Fraudulent Transactions: Fraudsters often sell properties they do not own, leading to conflicts.
  3. Boundary Disagreements: Disputes over property boundaries are prevalent, especially in urban areas.
  4. Inheritance Conflicts: Family members may dispute property inheritance, especially in the absence of a will.
  5. Lease Misunderstandings: Disagreements between landlords and tenants over lease terms and conditions.

Practical Steps to Handle Property Disputes

  1. Verify Property Titles and Documents
    • Example: Mr. Adeyemi purchased a piece of land in Lagos only to discover another individual, Mr. Olu, claiming ownership. Adeyemi’s first step was to verify the title at the Land Registry, where he discovered that the title was registered under Mr. Olu’s name. Adeyemi realized he had been scammed by the seller and took immediate steps to address the issue.
    • Action: Always verify the authenticity of property documents at the Land Registry before purchasing property. Ensure the seller has a valid title deed and that there are no encumbrances on the property.
  2. Conduct a Thorough Background Check on the Seller
    • Example: Mrs. Nkiru was interested in buying a property in Abuja. She hired a lawyer to conduct a background check on the seller and discovered that the seller had been involved in previous fraudulent transactions. She avoided a potential scam by conducting due diligence.
    • Action: Engage professionals such as Plusworld realtors or real estate agents to perform background checks on the seller to ensure their credibility.
  3. Use Legal Instruments Like Deeds of Assignment and Governor’s Consent
    • Example: When Mr. Tunde bought land in Ogun State, he ensured all transactions were documented through a Deed of Assignment, which was duly registered, and he obtained the Governor’s Consent. This legal documentation safeguarded his ownership rights.
    • Action: Always document property transactions through legal instruments like Deeds of Assignment and secure the necessary government approvals.
  4. Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
    • Example: Two neighbors, Mr. Hassan and Mr. Chike, had a boundary dispute in Ibadan. Instead of going to court, they opted for mediation. A neutral third party helped them reach an amicable agreement, clearly demarcating the boundary.
    • Action: Consider mediation or other forms of ADR to resolve disputes amicably. ADR can save time and reduce legal costs compared to litigation.
  5. Litigation: Taking Legal Action
    • Example: Ms. Funmi inherited a property in Lagos, but her uncle contested the will, claiming ownership. Unable to resolve the dispute through mediation, she filed a lawsuit. The court eventually upheld the validity of the will, affirming her ownership.
    • Action: When other methods fail, take the dispute to court. Ensure you have all necessary documentation and legal representation to support your case.
  6. Seek Professional Legal Advice
    • Example: Mr. Ekene faced a dispute over a rental property with his tenant who refused to vacate after the lease expired. He sought advice from a real estate lawyer who guided him through the eviction process legally and efficiently.
    • Action: Consult with legal professionals who specialize in property law to get tailored advice and representation.
  7. Involve Local Authorities
    • Example: In a community in Enugu, multiple families claimed ownership of a communal land. The local government intervened, conducting a thorough investigation and adjudicating the rightful owners based on historical records and testimonies.
    • Action: Involve local government authorities or traditional leaders who may have records or historical knowledge pertinent to the dispute.

Real-Life Story: The Case of the Disputed Ancestral Land

In a small village in Delta State, the Okoro family found themselves in a heated dispute over ancestral land. The land had been passed down through generations without formal documentation. When Mr. Okoro passed away, his three sons could not agree on how to divide the land, each claiming rights to the most fertile portion.

The family initially tried to resolve the matter internally but failed. They then approached the village chief, who recommended mediation. A neutral mediator was appointed, and after several sessions, an agreement was reached.

The land was divided into three equal parts, and each son received a portion. Additionally, a family trust was established to ensure that future generations would have a clear, documented claim to their inheritance.

This story highlights the importance of mediation and the involvement of local authorities in resolving property disputes amicably. With Plusworld realtors, proper compliance is adhered to when dealing with properties of our respective clients. Contact us today.


Handling property disputes in Nigeria requires a strategic and informed approach. Therefore, verifying property titles, conducting thorough background checks, using legal instruments, considering mediation, seeking legal advice, and involving local authorities, you can effectively manage and resolve property disputes.

These practical steps, supported by real-life examples, demonstrate that while property disputes can be challenging, they are resolvable with the right approach and resources. We have new investment opportunity at Alaro City with hassle free and all done for your checks and legal documentations ready.


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