The Certificate of Occupancy versus the Deed of Sublease; what the house owner should know (1)


By AKHIGBE Dominic M

MON, JUNE 19 2017-It has become very pertinent that I addressed this issue. On this forum, we have had to dedicated weeks to address pungent Housing Titles such as Certificate of Occupancy, Governor’s Consent, Deed of Assignment and many more. I am also sure we touched on the issue of the Sublease at the point. However; the experience I had with a professional colleague some time not too far ago has made it very imperative that the conflict generated around the Deed-of Sublease and the Certificate of Occupancy is addressed so as to finally put matters to rest. While doing justice to this; am going to try as much as possible to avoid high sounding professional jargons so that the general public, which is the focus of this weekly effort, would not be lost. My learned friends in our very respected noble profession should kindly excuse me on this.

The Deed-of-Sublease is as vital as any other final Title document. The expression “sublease” does not seem to go well with a great number of persons when they are informed that the best they can get in the circumstance is a Sublease. They have phobia for the word “…lease”. To them, this sub word does not connote “ownership” in its entirety. There is the fear that someone is up to some smart games with the property under consideration. The truth is; a Sublease is as potent as a Certificate or Occupancy. The ownership rights are not any less in the event of a Sublease. When property owners express fears and uncertainties over the Sublease Title; sometimes, such fears arise from the relative incapacities of those they engage to help them sail the wind while acquiring the properties.

About two years ago, I was involved in a Property purchase transaction. Since I was close to the buyer in some very sensitive way and thrown against the background that she already had a Counsel who was managing her earlier properties; it was professionally expedient for me to agree with her when she suggested that she would get her lawyer involved in the process. To me; it was a beautiful idea. The negotiations were done and payments were made. Typical of developers; there was delay in delivery; this was done almost a year behind schedule. At this point; temper had risen and the confidence level dwindled. Suspicions were high as to the authenticity of the entire transaction. This was the environment till delivery was made much latter than agreed. When the Sublease Title was handed over to the Lawyer to the buyer; hell let loose immediately. He would not take it. He vehemently objected the option of a Sublease as against a Certificate of Occupancy which, in his opinion; his client was entitled to haven made full and instant payment for her housing unit. I tried to intervene in the circumstance; he won’t take any of such. To him, I was not going to be fair since I was handling Legal Matters for the company that made the offer to his client then. He went ahead to make a written demand for a Certificate of Occupancy from the company.  The Chairman of the company, upon noticing the flaws and the very shallow knowledge of this lawyer in Conveyances and Matters of Housing Documentation more or less ignored the threat of a possible legal action should the company fail to oblige his demand.

…to be continued

Akhigbe Dominic.M. Esq., /Property Law Expert/CEO, H.I.E Properties & Homes Ltd/SENIOR STRATEGIC PARTNER, PropertyLogic Incorporated/Seasoned Business Coach/Columnist of The BusinessDay/Contributing Editor, <>*

DCSL 90X780