While C of O and R of O are important land title documents, they are different. If you have been mistaking them to be the same, this article will help put things in a better perspective.

In the Beginning was Family-Owned Lands

In the times past, lands belonged to either families or as was later obtainable – to the community. Sometimes, the community-owned lands are compilations of the individual donations from different families.

Things however took a different turn with the adoption of the Land Use Act of 1978, which mandated State Governments, under the control of the Governor, to take a control of and administer the lands in the urban areas.

Since then, before one can purchase a land in the “town,” or urban area, the person needs to get the say-so of the persons in-charge. This birthed the use of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and Right of Occupancy (R of O).

What is a C of O?

The full meaning is Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). It is a State-issued document detailing the ownership of a land by the holder.

Here are some of the additional points to note:

C of O as a “Lease”

While this land title grants you the ownership of a land, it might not actually be for a long time. Why? You may consider the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) as a State-issued lease, permitting the holder to use the land for a period of 99 years.

The Issuance is Limited

Not everyone gets to receive the C of O of a land. It is exclusively issued to the first person to purchase and occupy the land. Hence, it cannot be issued twice.

If you must obtain the C of O again, it has to be transferred to you (the new land buyer) from the original owner. The process typically requires the Governor’s Consent to legalize the transaction.

When is the C of O Issued?

The following criteria is required before the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) can be issued:

  • The land must be within the government’s jurisdiction, i.e., in the urban areas.
  • The certificate is typically issued to individuals and companies looking to buy lands in the urban areas.
  • The issuance of the C of O is subject to the completion of the relevant processes and the listed requirements.

Also Read:

What is the R of O?

It stands for Right of Occupancy. It grants the individual, organizations/companies or a community the right to lawfully use a land, especially in the rural areas. As per the provisions in the Land Use Act of 1978, the right includes the occupying and using of the said land under the customary laws.

Designated Usage

The common designations of such lands, under the customary laws, include residential and agricultural purposes.

The Extent of the Rights

The rights extended in R of O are not for full ownership. This is because the lands are only meant to be occupied and used for the designated purposes – and not to be wholly owned.

C of O vs. R of O: The Differences

The major difference is that the C of O allows full ownership of a land, while the R of O only allows for usage.

Other differences include:

1. Who Issues What?

By the provisions of the Land Use Act of 1978, the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) can be issued either by the State Governor (for lands within the State’s urban areas) or the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – for the lands in the nation’s capital.

Either the Governor or the FCT Minister issues the C of O “under his hand” in evidence of the holders right to occupy and use the said land.

On the other hand, the Right of Occupancy (R of O) is within the jurisdiction of the State’s local government. This is a case of permitting the Local Government Area (LGA)’s Administrator/Chairman to accord the Right of Occupancy (R of O) in “pastoral areas” within the LGA.

2. Who Gets What?

The Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is issued to both individuals and corporate organizations, while the Right of Occupancy (R of O) is issued to the following:

  • Individuals
  • Communities and;
  • Corporate organizations/companies

3. The Purpose of the Occupancy Differs

Anyone with the C of O got it because the person or group wants to use the land for commercial or residential purposes. The R of O is issued for lands designated for residential and agricultural purposes.

4. The Legality of the Occupancy

If you are looking for a land title that confers absolute rights; it has to be the C of O. Reason? It comes with a full permission to own and use the land, transfer it to someone else, and serves as a legal document for controlling fraudulent transactions – as it cannot be issued twice.

5. Comparing the Strength

If you are to choose between the C of O and the R of O as a land title, which will be the best option? Let’s look at what they have to offer:

  • You can use the C of O to process a loan, tendering it as a collateral, as you have the full rights to own the land.
  • In cases of land disputes and or imminent takeover by the government, you stand a chance of receiving compensation, if you have the C of O.
  • You will find the R of O beneficial if you intend to use the land for farming/agricultural purposes and building a home. If you want to build a home, a rental building or lease the land, go for the C of O.

Also Read:

Final Words

Choosing between the two is a matter of where the land is located, the intended use, the future prospects and how long the land will be in use.

What is the summary of the difference between C of O and R of O? The Right of Occupancy (R of O) is only but an “offer” to occupy a land for a specific time. The Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) grants you a full ownership.

Would you like to buy land or house in Epe, Ajah, Lekki, Ibeju-Lekki or anywhere in Nigeria? Reach out to us on +234 806 400 3456 or send an email to support@godslandempire.com. We are ever ready to assist you on your property ownership journey in Nigeria.