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How Land Disputes Stall Property Development

The saying that where there is no love, there is no development is most ripe when we talk about property development especially in Nigeria. Land disputes have cost both government and private investors unquantifiable losses. The losses result from infrastructure denial, destruction and project abandonment. The federal government recently bemoaned the activities of both individuals and communities whose actions have impeded development of infrastructure in their localities. However, the government reacts like that, it has not been able to do what they ought to do to settle communities land disputes. 

Encountering a boundary dispute with an adjacent neighbor is a fairly common issue for landowners. There are many ways a boundary dispute can arise. Sometimes, deed descriptions are inaccurate and have been this way for a long time. Sometimes, though the neighbors all agree that the legal description is correct, one neighbor has been occupying a portion of the land for long enough to claim ownership of it, under a theory of “adverse possession.” Another possible source of dispute is when multiple, unrecorded deeds convey the same property to different people.

Are you encroaching on the neighbors’ land, or are they encroaching on yours? The cause of the dispute, amount of land in question, and available options for resolution vary greatly depending on the facts of the situation. This article will discuss what to do first in the event of a dispute. With a population of over 200 million people and significant reserves of natural resources, Nigeria has the potential to build a prosperous economy and well-functioning cities. However, key weaknesses in the land governance system represent potentially significant constraints on the country’s ability to realize its full economic and social potential.

Although recognition of land rights is high, formal registration of those rights remains extremely low, and the cost of registration is unaffordable for many land users. Nigeria’s vibrant cities lack updated master plans to guide their growth and development, resulting in a proliferation of informal development. The management of public land still suffers from questions of transparency and appropriate compensation for expropriation, and land disputes brought before the court system often take years.

To understanding the boundary issue in when a land is in dispute has more to do with government involvement otherwise, blood will continue to flow like we use to have between communities like Igbakwu and Omor, Aguleri and Umueri, Ife and Modakeke to mention just this few.To settle such cases and have a lasting peace, one whether Government or Committees, one must first, make sure he has a full understanding of the cause and nature of the dispute. If there is court case in respect to dispute and how far the settlements have gone. Was there any verdict in the past, has any committee given any judgement in the past.

What is the relationship or difference between the court judgment and that of the committees. All these will help you to make final judgment linking and aligning with already court and committee judgments. You will need to get a professional analysis of whether you are encroaching on your neighbors’ property or vice versa, and find out how long the encroachment has gone on, how much land is being encroached upon, and whether permission was ever given to encroach.

In the event that such thing is not done, any government development sited in any of the communities in disputes will be sabotaged. This is why government should consider settling such cases to enable development to come and stay. Also government should consider the area and value of land in dispute. This may be small enough that the issue is best resolved by mutual agreement rather than by rushing into court. Litigation costs add up quickly, and can easily exceed the value of the land in question. How you proceed greatly depends on your relationship with the neighbor. Keeping things friendly, or at least civil, is often the best approach.

If your relationship with your neighbor allows, try to speak with him or her about the issue. Perhaps there’s simply a misunderstanding, which can be cleared up between the two of you. Although consulting with your attorney is advisable prior to talking with the neighbor, try to leave the attorney in the background for now – in other words, don’t get the attorney involved in communications with your neighbor, or take any action to file a lawsuit. A personal visit, phone call, letter, or even an email from you will be better received than a letter from your attorney, or actions like filing a complaint or placing stakes or ribbons on the land you claim is yours. That’s especially true if your neighbor doesn’t yet know that you believe there’s a boundary issue. You will figure out shortly after speaking with your neighbor whether attorneys will need to be brought in.

With over 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Nearly half of Nigerians live in cities, and population densities vary widely (from about 41 people/km2 in Adamawa State to more than 2,480 in Lagos State). Nigeria has at least six cities with populations greater than 1 million, making controlled urbanization a significant challenge for the country. Additionally, Nigeria is extremely diverse, with more than 350 ethnic groups. Of these, the largest are the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Ibo, who comprise majorities in the northern, western, and eastern regions respectively.1 The population is almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims, with less than 2 percent adhering to other religions. Nigeria is covered by two major types of vegetation – (i) the forest types found in the south and (ii) the savannah types covering the middle belt and northern part of Nigeria. The total amount of rainfall and the length of the wet season decrease progressively from the south to the northern part of the country. In the north, it has been estimated that that about 351,000 ha of land is lost to desertification each year.2 Thus land management and policies need to reflect the heterogeneity of Nigeria from north to south, not only in terms of population and institutions, but also geography and climate.

Neighbors sometimes get into arguments over property boundaries, which can escalate and cause additional problems. We can’t always prevent these disputes, but the following information will help you resolve issues and avoid problems with your neighbors. Surveys done at the time of any property purchase should reflect the boundary lines. Prior to erecting a fence on a boundary line, an updated survey could be ordered to determine the accurate boundary lines. This may be impossible in some cases, due to the age of the property or the wording of the deed. (Some older deeds can contain legal descriptions such as “52 feet from the bend in the stream” on a piece of land, which now has only a dry riverbed where a stream once existed.) Another alternative in a boundary dispute is for adjacent property owners to agree on a physical object such as a fence which could serve as the boundary line between the two property.

Each owner would then sign a quitclaim deed to the other, granting the neighbor ownership to any land on the other side of the line agreed upon. If the piece of property in dispute has been used by someone other than the owner for a number of years, the doctrine of adverse possession may apply. State laws vary with respect to time requirements. But typically, the possession by the non-owner must be open, notorious, and under a claim of right. In some states, the non-owner must also pay the property taxes on the occupied land. A permissive use of property eliminates the ability to claim adverse possession.

However, whether there is a dispute over a portion or a parcel of land, it is always advisable for two neighbours to have their boundary because that will give credibility to any claim that the institution which government put in there or intends to put in there is put on his/her land. Experts discussing how some ongoing projects are not only stalled but entirely abandoned posit that litigation whether in the law court or within the family circles many a time stops the government from continuing with whatever project it has in mind. Research has also revealed that the completion of all ongoing housing schemes is a major strategy which any state would deploy in meeting its target.

The experts therefore urge investors to complete the projects allocated to them because that is the only way to maximize and in other ways, the urge governments to monitor the contractors or have their contracts revoked. All housing schemes that had been contracted out to private sector partners and joint investors are to be completed within the time frame indicated in the contractual agreements or have them cancelled. This fall within the warnings handed over to private investors and contractors by the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing. Although, investors had been citing encumbrances, disappointments from funding partners and conflicts with various host communities as major difficulties that use to stall timely completion of such projects.

Source: sunnewsonline

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