With a vow to sanitise the industry, the Lagos State Government has unveiled an online portal and unified central database for real estate practitioners and their activities in the metropolis. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Lagos, a former capital of Nigeria, is the commercial and economic nerve centre of West Africa with lots of investment opportunities.
Apart from being the fastest growing city, it is the most populous urban centre in sub-Saharan Africa.
With an estimated population of over 14.5 million people, search for accommodation becomes an herculean task as a lot of accommodation seekers jostle for few available houses at the risk of being duped by illegal individuals masquerading as real estate practitioners, agents and properrty developers.
With a pledge to collaborate with the private sector to build more houses while reviving the existing mortgage system, the Lagos State Government has introduced a new peogramme that will capture a unified central database for real estate practitioners and their activities in the state.
By this, it means that anyone engaging in real estate business/transaction in the state must register with the Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA) for the purpose of monitoring and ensuring adherence to proper code of conduct in discharge of their functions.
To show it meant business, the state authorities unveiled the LASRERA’s website and registration database portal, while reading the riot act to real estate practitioners in the metropolis
Speaking on the initiative while explaining a major change in the name of the agency from Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department to Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA), Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, stated that it was geared towards transforming Lagos into a 21st Century economy.
He said that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu approved the transition of the department to an agency on February 7, 2020.
According to her, part of the mandate of the new office include preparation of rules and regulations for the practice of estate agency and other connected matters in the state.
Others include identification of persons eligible to be licensed as estate agents and renewal of annual licences; sanction of unlicensed estate agency practitioners in the state, as well as the investigation of complaints and petitions against licensed estate agency practitioners, amongst others.
However, no sooner than the state unveiled the initiative, professionals under the auspices of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers kicked against it, saying they were not liable under the federal law establishing their institution and Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVRBON) to register with LASRERA.
According to them, list of all registered estate surveyors and valuers in all the state of the federation are with these two bodies, adding that if any professional is found wanting government could approach them to seek redress.
Speaking with New Telegraph, a former Chairman of NIESV, Lagos Chapter. Mr. Stephen Jagun, said the the state government had the right to monitor real estate transactions in the state but does not have the power to regulate activities of real estate surveyors and valuers.
According to him, NIESV is guided by the federal law establishing it and its regulatory body, Estate Surveyor and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria, and not state law.
If an estate agent errs, Jagun said the state government had the right to report the case to the professional body or the police, pointimg out that NIEVS had a register of all members and ready to discipline anyone caught insharp practises.
“So trying to create any agency is not the solution since there are existing laws and like the EFCC to report to, “he said.
He also cautioned government not to see the registration of real estate practitioners as an avenue for revenue generation.
He said: “Lagos state needs to take it easy with some of these things because it is only looking at how it will take charges and revenue.”
Another Lagos-based estate surveyor and valuer, Mr. Lekan Akinwunmi, said:
“In my opinion, we have professional regulatory bodies. There is no need to register with the Lagos state government.”
He argued that the certificate given to him as estate surveyor and valuer was to practice anywhere in Nigeria.
“By what the Lagos State Government is trying to do, this means that I have to register in 36 states of the federation,” he said.
According to him, estate agency is under estate surveying, saying there is no way to sell a house without carrying out valuation.
Lagos State government needs to seek the cooperation of the professional bodies to sanitise real estate sector.