Why women should stop buying property in their husband’s name – Lawyer

Taiwo Ajayi
17 Min Read
A lawyer, Oluwatodimu Ige

In light of growing concerns regarding gender disparities in property ownership and financial autonomy in marriages, a lawyer, Oluwatodimu Ige, has offered advice for married women.

Mr Ige’s advice, in this interview, addresses the traditional practice of wives buying property solely in their husbands’ names, and the legal implications of such a practice.

The lawyer also suggested legally established ways couples can handle cultural and traditional sentiments concerning property ownership without impairing mutual trust and matrimonial harmony.


PT: What are your thoughts on the prevalent practice of married women purchasing landed properties and registering them solely in their husband’s name?

Oluwatodimu: These days, you know, due to information and the position of the law, many people have started tilting away, at least the educated ones. Now, why this is prevalent is because of one: our culture.


We live in a patriarchal society, and then you see that most people say that in marriage, when two come together, they become one. So, most times, it is on that basis that you see that when a woman buys a property, the woman puts in the husband’s name. And sometimes, some women would not even put it in their husbands’ name; they put it in their father’s or maiden name.

There has been an erroneous belief, particularly in some cultures, that a woman should not own property. And, of course, that has been shattered by the landmark case laws that a woman is also a human being and has a right to own property. That is a stride in Chapter Four of the Constitution of Nigeria.

The proper thing is if you are buying the property, what is yours is yours, except you are buying it for your husband. If you want to claim the property in the future, you must register that property legally and adequately.

Then, the property is yours, which must be in the name of whoever is dropping the money. I can’t buy property for myself and put my wife’s name. It is wrong to put the name of my wife and the mutual agreement to say that one of us owns that property, the same way if a man buys it.

If the woman buys the property, she must put her name because the property belongs to her, except there is a mutual understanding between her and her husband. So, it is proper for a lady or a woman to put the name on their valid means of identification on the property documents.

PT: Can you elaborate on the societal and cultural factors contributing to this trend?

Oluwatodimu: Our society and cultural norms lead many to believe women should not own property. This is a significant reason you see many people buying properties and putting them in their husband’s names.

Secondly, besides the cultural aspect, trust issues also play a role. For example, sometimes a woman wants to rent an apartment, but people refuse, saying they don’t rent to women. Even when they want to buy property, they’re told it won’t be sold to a woman.

Because of these challenges, many women are forced to bring in a man to represent them in transactions for renting or buying property.

The misconception also perpetuates this bias against women owning property that when a woman owns property, she is overbearing and overreaching, which is untrue.

A lawyer, Oluwatodimu Ige
A lawyer, Oluwatodimu Ige

These societal and cultural factors greatly hinder women from owning property. Even today, some cultures deny women the right to own property simply because of their gender.

In some families, regardless of how many houses the father owned before his death, the property automatically goes to the first son or sons, which goes against the law that allows anyone, regardless of gender, to own property.

Legally, anyone can own property, but certain cultures are biased against women owning property. These societal and cultural biases contribute to the trends we see.

PT: In your opinion, what are the potential drawbacks or risks for married women who choose to have properties solely registered in their husband’s name?

Oluwatodimu: The significant fallout and drawback is that when you register a property in somebody’s name, it automatically belongs to that person. That means if a woman buys a property in her husband’s name, only her husband has the right to do anything with the property.

If a woman buys a property in her husband’s name and intends to seek a loan from the bank, the bank will only give that loan to her husband because the property is registered in his name. If she were to travel for any reason, they would ask what assets she has in Nigeria.

If she said she has a property, and the property is in the name of her husband, it means the property doesn’t belong to her.

If the husband dies, there will be a letter of administration stating that the property belongs to her husband and not to her. So, if they are going to buy property, it is best advised that as long as the property belongs to the woman, it must be in her name.

In a case of divorce, if the property is in the husband’s name, the woman can’t lay claim to what she bought. Regardless of whether she has the transactional receipts, the name registered on that property is the owner, and that’s what the court will look at.

PT: Do you think this practice impacts the financial independence and empowerment of married women?

Oluwatodimu: Yes, it dramatically impacts their financial independence, emotional independence, the general disposition of women, and their empowerment because when you acquire property in your name, it is an incentive to you.

You’ve put in the work, and you have made money, so if you have a property and the property is in your name, it gives you some form of motivation. If you can receive alerts in your name, the payment for the work that you have done goes to your bank accounts, which are your property.

Then, why should women put their property in the name of their husbands? Most times, because of this tendency of women to put the property in the name of their husbands, many of them are not truthful. We have seen so many instances.

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I even heard of stories where the husband and wife are staying in the property that belongs to the wife, and they are paying rent, and the husband doesn’t know because the woman has failed to disclose.

Why is it so? Because the woman is scared that once the man knows that the property belongs to her, there will be problems? Most times, it affects the independence of women because most women would instead use the money for other purposes because they don’t want to buy the property in the name of their husband, and all these would eventually lead to disharmony where there is no trust between the couple.

So, as I said, the impact of it is that if women have property and it’s not in their name, there’s no way they can be independent because it is what they have labelled for, and it is not in their name. That means that there’s a rope or chain around their neck that is not making them completely free, and when it comes to empowerment, when you are not free, you cannot be empowered.

PT: Are there legal implications or considerations that married women should know regarding property ownership in their husband’s name?

Oluwatodimu: Yes, the number one legal implication when women buy property in the name of their husband is that the property belongs to their husband, and they cannot have any ownership claim on that property as much as the property was bought and registered in the name of their husband.

That means they have gifted the property to their husband, who is the owner. It would then be assumed that he brought out money from his pocket and paid for it, or the woman might keep the money for him and make the payment on his behalf, in as much as the property was bought in his name, so she can never lay claim to it.

If the husband dies and he writes a will and says, “I’m giving this land or this property to my brother or charity homes,” the woman cannot contend for that property because the property is registered in the man’s name.

Number two is that if the property belonged to the woman and was registered in her husband’s name, the woman has no ownership rights. She cannot transfer it to her children. The name of the person on the property document is the one that is the Alpha and Omega.

Women must understand that they have a name, and it’s the name on their valid means of identification that they should put on property transactions.

PT: Can you share instances that have thrown up these issues with our readers?

Oluwatodimu: Quite a number of these issues. There was some instance of a woman who has been working in a bank and has been saving money, and because of the name of her job, she can’t go and inspect the land she bought for school. So, when she wanted to buy the land, she wanted her husband to go and buy it. The husband told her that because she was not there, he put his name on it.

She said no problem. So, the land was bought in the name of the man. Don’t forget that he who owned the land owned everything. The woman builds the school in her name and names it after herself. Over the years, when they divorced, all of a sudden, the woman was in school one day, and she saw that some people had come and were inspecting the property. They said they were from the bank, and the husband had used the property as a collateral. She said it was her own.

How? The man brought out his documents. The woman brought out the documents, and it was registered in the name of the man.

Regardless of how long the school has been used, the property belongs to the man because it was registered in his name.

The woman should not made that fundamental error when the man represented her, he should have put her name on the receipts. Of course, there are also legal ways she can reclaim the property.

PT: How should a couple go about registering a property they jointly bought?

Oluwatodimu: There have been instances where women contributed money for the purchase properties by their husbands, then the name on the receipts and the title documents must be in the names of both parties and how both parties will put their name is that, let’s say, Mr Todimu Ige and Mrs Temitope Ige, it’s wrong to write the name as Mr and Mrs Ige but Mr Todimu Ige and Mrs Temitope Ige. That means two legal names.

PT: What advice would you give to married women considering purchasing property and deciding on the registration process?

Oluwatodimu: Well, my advice to women is that the law permits them, as humans and Nigerians, to own movable and immovable property in Nigeria, as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I will say they can own property in their names, and there is no reason to buy a property they laboured for in their husband’s names. That is not the position of the law.

So, if they are buying a property, except they are hiding it for fraud purposes or they don’t want people in their office to know that they have the property (because some people also do that – buying properties using the names of proxies because they have embezzled money somewhere), they should buy it in their name.

Because they are hiding some things, so in that instance, they have a flawed conscience.

If you have acquired your property legitimately, then the proper thing to do is to buy the property in your name. And when we mean your name, that should be the name stated on your valid means of identification. Because that is the only way any property can be legally registered at the Ministry of Lands in any State where you have bought and acquired that property.

PT: How can couples navigate discussions around property ownership to ensure both parties feel financially secure and empowered?

Oluwatodimu: Well, the truth is, when it comes to marriage, communication is essential, and when it comes to this, the intention must be clear. If a woman has property in her name, she can also have joint property with her husband.

They can buy the property jointly, whereby each person brings their equity. If the husband says he’s getting 50 per cent and she is bringing the same, in such an instance, the names of the properties will be there. If the husband brings money from his pocket, he should put his name. If the wife brings cash from her pocket, she should put her name.

Source: premiumtimesng

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