The Invaluability Of Pre Contract Inquiries In Property Transactions

The Invaluability Of Pre Contract Inquiries In Property Transactions

The Invaluability Of Pre Contract Inquiries In Property Transactions.

By Nwakor Oluchukwu N. Gospel

INTRODUCTION

Lots of property transactions in Nigeria are plagued with several controversies amongst parties, conflicts, misunderstandings, and dispute arising from failed obligations of parties and their solicitors by extension. This invariably leads to plethora of court cases, traditional settlements, and sometimes various crimes aimed at eliminating opposing parties successfully.

A number of factors lead to this challenge, ranging from uncertain and oral terms, inconsistency of parties, issue of title, purpose of purchase, fraud, encumbrances, etc. For instance, as is commonly experienced, a vendor who is selling a property may not have a sound title as he claims, or there may be some pending matters over the property to be sold, and yet he goes ahead to contract the purchaser. Most times, fraudulent vendors sell to different parties at the same time or in subsequent times. Some of these victims are people who are desperately in need of the properties, or persons who have some trust in the vendors, and so they fail to carry out all necessary inquiries over the property.

All these factors can be avoided or minimized if the right thing is done before the contract is executed, and that is simply by carrying out pre contract inquiries. Any party to a contract in a property transaction is entitled to carry out necessary investigations on the property in order to ascertain the true position of the property.

WAYS OF MAKING PRE CONTRACT INQUIRIES

The following are ways to carry out these inquiries:

  1. Search at the Land Registry: Various states have provisions for registration of titles and land transactions in their states. This is to avoid encumbrances and to establish priority. A purchasing party is advised to visit the land registry of the state where the property is located (through his solicitor) and ascertain the registration status of the property.
  2. Search at the court for pending litigation: This is to ensure that there is no pending litigation on the property or any disputes brought to court for settlement.
  3. Physical Inspection of property: An actual physical inspection of the property in question will enable the party interested in the property to ensure that it meets the requirements and purpose of the usage or acquisition of the property.
  4. Search at the community/ traditional places: This applies more in the rural areas and when a communal or family property is being transferred. It becomes pertinent to visit the community and make necessary inquiries so as not to fall victim of fraud.
  5. Search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC): Any transaction involving a company or corporate body will necessitate a search at the CAC registry to ascertain certain information ranging from the registration status of the company, the object of the company, and other necessary information.

CONCLUSION

To achieve a successful hitch free property transaction, contracting parties must ensure that proper inquiries are carried out at necessary places before the contract is executed. As discussed above, this will help avoid any dangers arising from undisclosed facts and from failing to carry out such enquiry. 

RECOMMENDATIONS:   

  1. No matter how hastily needed, it is advised to always make these inquiries
  2. Legal practitioners representing clients in a property transaction should advise their clients adequately on the importance of such inquiries
  3. There should be a provision of penalties in our laws for parties in a property transaction who fail to disclose all necessary information to the other unsuspecting party. This will act as a prompting to the vendor to ensure that he fulfils a legal obligation of disclosure and saves the other party from any damage to be likely suffered from the non disclosure.

REFERENCES:

Idundun v Okumagba (1976) 9-10 SC

Sharneyford v Supplies Ltd v. Edge (1987) All ER 588

Walker v Boyle (1982) 1 WLR p. 495

 

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