FELIREP urges housing laws review, as SAN insists on enforcement of old laws

By Omolola Dede Adeyanju

The Female Lawyers in Real Estate Practice, FELIREP have posed for a review on the framework that governs the real estate sector while Mrs Abimbola Akeredolu, SAN succumbs to Nigeria’s housing processes, yet kicks against enforcement of the laws by appropriate authorities.

At the maiden edition of the FELIREP conference in Lagos on Thursday, the President, Female Lawyers In Real Estate Practice, FELIREP, Peace Anomneze, expressed focus on the pertinent theme of “The Missing Gap: Absence of Revised Laws, Rules, Regulations, Policies, and Effective Monitoring on Emerging Trends in the Nigerian Real Estate Market.”

She explained that the Nigerian real estate market stands as a crucial sector within the Nigerian economy, showcasing immense potential for growth, development, and prosperity. However, Mrs Peace stated that a significant gap exists in the framework that governs the real estate sector;

“The absence of revised laws, rules, regulations, and policies, coupled with the lack of effective monitoring mechanisms, presents formidable challenges that demand our immediate attention and collective efforts.”

Furthermore, the President enumerated that the emergence of PropTech, the rise of co-working spaces, the growing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly solutions, and the increasing focus on data-driven decision-making are just a few of the transformative trends redefining the real estate market.

“Despite these seismic shifts,” she said, “our regulatory framework remains largely stagnant, failing to adapt to the changing dynamics of the industry. This stagnation has led to a mismatch between the regulatory environment and the ground realities, leaving a significant void that hampers the growth and stability of the real estate market.”

In addition, she informed, “The lack of updated laws and regulations not only stifles innovation but also exposes stakeholders to risks and uncertainties. Without a robust monitoring system in place, we run the risk of falling behind the curve, missing out on valuable opportunities, and compromising the integrity of the real estate sector.”

Meanwhile, in her keynote speech, the special adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Housing, Barr. Barakat Odunuga-Bakare emphasised that the role of the state government in reviewing real estate law is Paramount. She explained that as the market evolves, by reviewing and updating the laws the government can promote fairness, reliability and accountability within the state to protect the interest of buyers, sellers and investors, boosting interests for foreign and more domestic investments.

“The state government has established relevant agencies to monitor the real estate sector to track market trends, and identify potential risks. These mechanisms help ensure compliance, avoid manipulations and corrupt practices in the sector,” she added.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Partner with Banwo and Ighodalo, Mrs Abimbola Akeredolu talked about the key challenges in the real estate and housing sector, touching the lack of certainty of ownership, She said that property ownership in Nigeria and acquisition of documents to show ownership takes forever to achieve.

“There is no certainty of title and no certainty to get evidence of ownership title or documents, no certainty of the length of discreet resolution,” she stated.

In view of international practices, the SAN submitted, “Let us even have local best practices before talking of international best practices. I’ll draw an analogy from the great wall of China which was built many years ago to secure China but they kept having several invasions because the people at the gate were collecting bribes.

“We have the best processes in Nigeria but the people enforcing these processes are not living up to their jobs. So if we keep saying the laws are obsolete and can see the laws need to be reviewed, let us even get to the standard of the existing law first. Why are the people that are supposed to enforce the law not enforcing it?

As regards a notion by a member of the audience at the panel session who stated, “The government is committing crimes against Nigerians as most of the several laws they put in place are made overnight without public hearings and announcements. People only get to know about them when they fall victims of violation.”

Mrs Abimbola responded, “The citizens have their weapons to eradicate laws made without public hearings, as long as the government doesn’t comply with what the law states in passing that law, such law will be set aside.”

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