…defraud our people and we’ll prosecute you-Benson-Awoyinka
The Lagos State Government has said the era of fraudulent practices in the real estate sector will soon be a thing of the past.
Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu on Housing, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, who made the declaration on Thursday while briefing the media at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, Ikeja, said the government would not tolerate the activities of estate agents who go about defrauding Lagosians in the guise of providing accommodation or any form of property for prospective buyers or tenants.
She said the unwholesome acts of some of these agents had not gone unnoticed by the government, and that henceforth, the business of real estate leasing and buying in Lagos would not be business as usual.
“We are well aware of the trend of fraudulent practices of some Real Estate Agents and Property Developers. This is reflected in the complaints received by the agency in recent time of residents who had fallen victims to fake Real Estate Practitioners/ Property Developers while seeking for accommodation, purchasing and selling of properties.
“As you all know, Lagos State has been the commercial and economic nerve centre of Nigeria and Africa with investments 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.
“We are aware of the activities of some of these agents, who go about defrauding Lagosians in the guise of providing accommodation or properties, in terms of lease or outright sale. We have been able to prosecute one of such so far. We’re in court with others now. All prosecutions are done through the law courts.
“Recently, a lady from the US, came to my office, who was duped of N30 million by a particular company with offices in V/I and Magodo. We have cases of about 70 people defrauded by some agents. Also, I’m aware of a case of 30 people defrauded by another agent. There are instances where agents defraud prospective clients of agency fees of say, N5000, and showing them properties that are not listed or that they do not even know the owners.
“All these are the narratives we want to change. What we are saying is, if you defraud our people, we will prosecute you. In line with the T.H.E.M.E Agenda of Mr Governor on the improving Technology Infrastructure, we are today unveiling the Website, Social Media handles and Registration Portal for the effective management and communication amongst the Stakeholders. The interactive Website would enhance post COVID compliance initiatives and promote transparency. It would become a one stop shop to Stakeholders and Government.
The new Agency’s Website is: www.lasrera.com and Registration Portal: www.lasrera.lagosstate.gov.ng.
“The robust platform houses a brief history of our initiatives, our aims and goal. Our commitment to the people, a complaint section, a registration portal which allows you to upload document. We remain committed to providing an enabling environment and transparent Real Estate Sector conforming to International best practices while safeguarding the ultimate interest of all the stakeholders.
“From now, to practice in Lagos as an agent, you must be registered on the website, you must be at least, a school cert holder, you must have an office as individuals, if you’re an organisation, you must have a board or management team.
Every agent that’s registered will be put on a portal, a compendium which will have all listed agents for easy tracking and follow up. This is part of the purpose of the registration.”
Regarding litigation on matters referred to court to seek redress for fraud victims, she said it is free. She said government does not charge any amount to defend Lagosians who feel the need to be defended in the court of law.
She used the occasion to intimate the general public of a change in the name of a department under the Ministry of Housing, formerly known as Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department, to Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority, LASRERA.
The change in the name, according to her, also upgraded the erstwhile department to a full agency that would be supervised by the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing.
Also, at the event, there was the unveiling of the Agency’s Logo and formal launch of a Website/ Registration Portal database of credible Real Estate Practitioners.
“The intention is to create, provide, develop, continuously capture and update a Unified Central Database of Real Estate Practitioners and their activities within the State, while making it accessible to all objectives of planning and urban development, housing policy decisions and housing data, to generally become a real estate business home and abroad.”
The Special Assistant emphasised the importance of patronising registered Real Estate Practitioners and Property Developers, adding that this will ensure protection of citizens from illegal trade practices and create a forum for affected members of society to lodge complaints against unscrupulous agents. Also, it will assist in monitoring compliance with the Lagos State Tenancy Law, Criminal Law and other legislation on Land transaction and Prosecute agents suspected of having violated the applicable Laws, she added.