By Bolaji Ogungbemi
Group kick over Lagos registration of estate agency practitioners
It is crystal clear that land does not just mean the ground and it's subsoil, but includes also all structures and objects, like buildings and trees, standing on it. Individual ownership of land is not a rare development anymore because the factor responsible for this development was the economic emancipation of the individual as a result of new patterns of economic activity.
The idea of personal acquisition was bound naturally to affect the system of land tenure; with his wealth the individual began to seek after land as a personal possession.
The cash economy also Les gradually to a change in the method of land exploitation, from subsistence farming to the cultivation of cash crops on commercial lines. So also the possession of wealth in the form of cash made it possible for the individual to want to build a dwelling house of a much more concrete and expensive quality.
It is not to wondered at that in consequence of these new factors in the social and economic life of some our communities and state land acquired a commercial value, and the old prejudices against its sales began to be broken down by attractions of cash.
The Advent of the State Government was another important factor that helped to stimulate the process of individualisation. It numerous activities served inevitably to reinforce the influence of the cash and eventually to institutionalize it, since it was only on the basis of cash that its enlarged economic undertakings could effectively be carried out.
Government activities resulted in the emergence and growth of urban centres to which were attracted large populations in pursuit of employment in government services, trade and other gainful economic activities...
It is crystal clear as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended that every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.
The last may not have been heard of the plan by the Lagos State government to further regulate the practice of real estate agency, as the move is throwing up a storm among the estate surveyors and valuers and other stakeholders across all boards.
For example, the industry association – Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) and regulatory body – Estate Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) are protesting what they consider to be potential violations to the professional rights.
The state’s estate agency regulatory law approved in 2015 establishes the state’s Estate Agency Regulatory Authority (LEARA), currently managed by the Real Estate Transaction Department (LASRETRAD) under the Ministry of Housing, which prepares rules and regulations for the practice of estate agency.
The authority is expected to maintain a register of estate agents, sanction unlicensed estate agency practitioners, collate data on property transactions, investigate complaints and petitions against licensed practitioners as well as ensure the payment of fees, taxes or charges on property transactions.
Under the law, estate agency practice will be regulated by LEARA. The regulatory organ has already fixed agency fees of 10 per cent of the total rent collected on any transaction, imposes 15 per cent fees on any sale or purchase of land or building where two or more agents are retained by the owner/vendor. Every tenancy agreement will also attract 12.5 per cent legal fees.
But estate surveyors are worried about the effect of the law on their practice, while some members have vehemently opposed it; others want their exemption from the new law.
It was learnt that the board and NIESV national executives may have shunned a meeting held by the state officials recently. The grouse of the bodies is that the government should not lump them
The ESVARBON Vice Chairman, Mr. Victor Alonge said that their lawyers are working on the position of the board on the proposed regulation as it affects registered estate surveyors and valuers, which will be forwarded to the state government.
NIESV Chairman, Lagos state branch, Mr. Adedotun Bamigbola said that the body is holding discussions with the state government on the matter, as the registration is restricted to the practice of estate agency, which is only a part of the work of professional estate surveyors.
Bamigbola said that estate surveyors have an act of parliament backing their practice and their ethical framework outweighs whatever regulation the Lagos State is introducing.
“Indeed, the Lagos State law has the inclusion of estate surveyors on the board to register and regulate estate agency practice. But to list us as part of the people to do another registration after being regulated by a national body, which in effect has a national coverage is wrong,” he said.
“This is not a fresh thing, it has been happening since 2007. The state government is aware of our position. We have an Act already that supersedes their regulation,” Bamigbola added.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka said: “It is, however, the responsibility of government to partner with relevant professional bodies in the housing sector to eliminate impostors, fraudsters, charlatans and sharp practices associated with members who claim to be accredited building or housing sectors practitioners, but whose sole objective is to defraud unsuspecting members of the public who engage their services in renting, leasing, buying, selling and property development.
“The ultimate aim is to eliminate the bad eggs in the industry and punish in accordance with relevant provisions of the State Law, thereby restoring the integrity of the profession within the State and Nigeria as a whole,” the special adviser said.
She further said: “Our vision is to provide an enabling environment and transparent real estate sector conforming with international best practices while safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders, our mission, however, is the creation of an innovative and sustainable environment to promote Lagos as a real estate investment destination in Africa and the world.
Benson-Awoyinka explained that increasing modern technology, frauds, and outcry in the state necessitated the scheme. “The 21st Century smart city of Lagos requires that virtually all real estate stakeholders and transactions be known and captured electronically with access to data by the citizens in real-time, as real estate to Lagos is as oil to Nigeria.”
According to her, there is the need to provide, develop and continuously capture and update a unified central database of real estate activities within the State while making it accessible for objectives of planning and policy decisions.
Compiled by Bolaji Ogungbemi.
A legal practitioner and property consultant.