Real Estate Agents in Lagos state have expressed worries over the proposed bill by the state’s House of Assembly, saying that the bill did not provide for parallel regulation of the informal and formal sectors of real estate.
The agents expressed their dissatisfaction on Thursday at the Assembly Complex during a public hearing organised by the House Committee On Housing on a Bill titled ‘ A bill for a Law to regulate real estate transactions in Lagos state and other connected purposes’.
In his contributions, the National President of Estate Rents and Commission Agents Association of Nigeria ( ERCAAN), Mr. Godwin Alenkhe said estate surveyors and valuers were omitted in the composition of the board, adding that the bill was an amendment to 2007 law on real estate.
A member of the Association of Estate Agents in Nigeria, Bolaji Raymond, said that the bill did not provide for parallel regulation of the people in informal and formal sectors of real estate.
Raymond added that there was no penalty for not meeting the requirements for registration, stressing that the only stated penalty was for those that had initially registered.
“Section 27 of the Bill talks about eligible applicants, who did not register. Most of the people on the streets are not registered and what they do is not criminalised or penalised in the bill.
“With Section 16, we are encouraging what we are running away from as an individual does not need to register with the CAC according to the bill,” he said.
However, a lawyer, Bar. Olukayode Olatunji, faulted the House for holding the public hearing, saying that issues relating to who has the right to control real estate in the state was before a court of law.
“There is a court order on this matter. The House of Assembly should not waste time with the public hearing. We are in court and we must respect the law. We are lawmakers, so we should not break the law,” Olatunji pointed out.
Also speaking, a professor from the University of Lagos, Professor Martins Dada wanted the house to define what was meant by real estate transaction, adding that one problem should not be solved by creating another one.
Dada stated that the House should think of how to help the economy of the state, adding that every legislation should be targeted at helping people’s businesses to grow.
In his comments, the Secretary of Senior Civil Servants Association of Nigeria in the state, Comrade Biodun Aladetan, lamented they were not being carried along in the scheme of things in the state.
Aladetan stressed that labour was missing on the proposed board of the authority, saying that it was unfair as the issue concerns workers.
Also speaking, another member of the Association of Estate Agents in Nigeria, Ayobayo Babade advised that young people should be encouraged and made members of the board.
While responding, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun Sanni said that even if the matter was in court, the House has the power to legislate on any issue based on a judgment of the Supreme Court.
Eshinlokun-Sanni said that the House was not joined in any issue concerning the law suit raised by Olatunji
He promised that the issue of the composition of the board would be considered, adding that all the matters raised by the stakeholders would be given consideration in the Bill.
He added that no law is dated earlier than 2015, disclosing that all laws in the state were reviewed by the State’s Law Reform Commission in 2015.
Earlier, the Chairman House Committee On Housing, Hon. Bisi Yusuff, said that the bill was meant to check the excesses of operators in the real estate industry and reduce quackery in the sector.
In his keynote address, the Speaker of the House, Rt. (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni said that public hearing is part of the practise of the House before any bill is passed into law.
Obasa added that real estate was an important sector in the state that must be regulated.
” Public hearing is part of the legislative practice of the House before we pass any bill. The real estate sector is an important sector in the state that must be regulated “, said Obasa.
Reviewing the bill, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade said that it was divided into 37 sections, adding that the regulatory authority would be headed by a Chairman, who shall be a person of repute and a professional in his area of practice with not less than 15 years of cognate experience.
Recall that in June this year, Lagos State Government established an agency, Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority, LASRERA, to monitor activities of estate agents and tenancy transactions in the state.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, said with the agency, it’s no longer business as usual, saying no one can practise as a real estate agent and company without been licensed, as failure to comply would lead to sanctions.
Speaking at a briefing to unveil LASRERA, it’s portal and logo, she said the need to have such an agency had become necessary following a series of complaints about fraudulent estate agents and companies.
She said with the agency, residents can lodge complaints for such fraudulent agents to be prosecuted by the state government at no cost to complainants.
Benson-Awoyinka explained that “we are well aware of the trend of fraudulent practices of some real estate agents/ property developers.
“This is reflected in the complaints received by the ministry in recent times of residents who had fallen victims to fake real estate practitioners/ property developers while seeking accommodation, purchasing/selling of properties.
“As you all know, Lagos State has been the commercial and economic nerve centre of Nigeria and Africa with investment opportunities, hence the net migration to the state.
“The state government has worked tirelessly over the years to curb the increasing fraudulent practices in this sector and this explains the need to sanitise the industry.”
The Special Adviser added that LASRERA will also investigate complaints and petitions against licensed estate agency practitioners and collate data on property transactions.
Benson-Awoyinka, therefore, implored estate agents to visit its site to get registered and get certified, saying any one with at least a secondary school certificate and have gone through a training on real estate agency would be certified by the state government to practise.