LASRETRAD Upgrade: Mixed reactions trail LASRERA provisions

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..Intention may be good but no consultations — REDAN

…Upgrade premised on faulty legal background—ERCAAN

…We are yet to reach our conclusion— NIESV

By Moses Adeniyi

Following the new upgrade of the Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department to Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA) which requires all  practitioners in Lagos Real Estate sector to register under a platform to practice in the State, Stateholders in the sector have reacted divergently on the new development.

The new upgrade which according to the State Government seek to create, provide, develop, continuously capture and update a Unified Central Database of Real Estate Practitioners in the State have attracted dissenting views from concerned Stateholders in the sector.

Reacting exclusively to NewsDirect, the President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), South West zone, and Managing Director/CEO, Realty Point Limited, Debo Adejana, described the development as a welcomed idea, in so far it is meant to regulate the profession to guide against quackery.

He however mentioned that while the intention may be good, the processes may be faulted due to the oversight of not consulting and critically engaging  Stateholders in the upgrade process.

“At the end of the day, they have something they want to achieve which  no proper thinking business man will be against. So if they say they want to ensure that  fraud is reduced to the bearest minimum and eliminated in ensuring that practitioners are controlled, I want to believe that other instruments are in place.

“It’s a combination of all of these things that will give birth to what they are trying to achieve. We would have to look at the values they are posing to bring to the table. It is value for value and we will see how it goes.”

Speaking on the issue of lack of consultation with stakeholders, Adejana said “I wouldn’t say that REDAN was consulted before the development. Government had its plan and maybe we were invited at one point or the other when they were launching it. There was no consultation; I can’t say that we were also consulted.

“I know that we also made moves to see them (Lagos State Government) but the lockdown since March has not allowed for that.

“I don’t want to believe that what they want to achieve is what any proper businessman will be against, but the right  manner and approach may be required in doing that for effectiveness. All these have to be fine-tuned so that it doesn’t appear as an income generating device.”

We are yet to reach our conclusion — NIESV

However, the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Lagos State Chapter, have disclosed it is yet to reach a conclusion on the new development.

Speaking to NewsDirect on Tuesday, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), NIESV Lagos State Chapter, ESV Ewenla Mustapha said that the Institution believes the new upgrade is for the betterment of the practice of Real Estate in the State, but it is has not made a resolution on the modalities of the platform.

Stating that the State Chapter of  NIESV has not come up with a particular position on the development, Ewenla said: “In my opinion if the Lagos State Government is coming up with a position like that, it’s for the betterment of the practice of Real Estate.

Ewenla stressed that as the host Community for practitioners in Lagos, the State Government has the authority to regulate the practitioners of the profession within its domain.

“Estate Agency is not our core practice in NIESV. However, it is one of our services that we render. So if there are other practitioners, quack or non-quacks, coming in to render the service, the Lagos State Government is feeling that they need to regulate the practice because it is becoming an all-comers affair that anybody, even a tailor and vulcaniser, is delving into. It is a welcome development.”

“In my own opinion we are not against it, but we would rather do what we can to support the Government to actualize that.”

Responding to whether the Institution was consulate in the upgrade process he said: “That is a topical discussion at the moment. Even some of our members are feeling that may be the pattern of engagement was not properly done.

He added that some members of the Institution are of the reservation that bringing unqualified practitioners, with little or no education, side by side with seasoned professionals on the same platform is a wrong idea.

“For me that is not something to be argued about so much. The fact that a quack was registered as an Estate Agent doesn’t make us the same. Our years of experience differs; our levels of experience and professionalism are different. It doesn’t mean that we are downgraded to become the same equals.

“Our position is for the Government to regulate it in such a way that it doesn’t just become all-comers business. So the quality of people who render real estate services can be strictly monitored and we can ensure that it is people who are educated that are enrolled. If you enroll illiterates into  the pracrice, it will become a mess.” Ewenla said.

Upgrade premised on faulty legal background—ERCAAN

Meanwhile the Estate Rents Commision Agents Association of Nigeria (ERCAAN) has condemned the new upgrade that birth LASRERA, faulting the processes and provisions as incoherent with existing legal structures and devoid of stakeholders contributions.

Speaking to NewsDirect exclusively, the National President, ERCAAN, Sir Godwin Alenkhe on Tuesday, stressed that the foundations of the upgrade remains faulty on legal grounds.

He mentioned that the upgrade without the input of stakeholders is counter-productive to the 2007 Lagos State Real Estate Authority Law which was set aside by the Government of Babatunde Fashola and overridden by an Executive order in 2011, giving birth to LASRETRAD.

He emphasized that the development is hostile to the yearnings of the Association on the need to upgrade LASRETRAD to a full Agency on the  background of an amendment legislative process, premised on the 2007 Lagos State Real Estate Authority Law accented to by the Bola Tinubu’s Administration.

“Our Association (ERCAAN) has been on the forefront, saying that why LASRETRAD is  uneffective is because it is not yet an agency of government. We then requested them to upgrade LASRETRAD into an agency of government. That is what we are expecting them to do.

“When this administration came in, part of our submissions was that you cannot arrest people of dubious tendencies because we don’t have an effective real estate regulatory body. That was part of our submissions but the way they went about it is what we are saying.

“We realised that there are supposed to be input and amendment in the 2007 law to conform to the present realities. We then called for a re-presentation of the law to the State House of Assembly for stakeholders submission for the law to be re-enacted as an amended law.

“What is the contributions of stakeholders like us, NIESV and the Nigerian Bar Association into LASRERA? Is LASRERA going to make use of the 2007 Law? Those are the questions you need to ask them? When was the amendment of the 2007 Law made without the input of stakeholders. So I just believe they are just dancing to the gallery. The whole thing (process) will come back to legal implications,” he said.

Estate Agency should be under Estate Surveyors and Valuers’ watch — ESV Adekunle

In his reaction, the Director, Lagos State Valuation Office,  and Chairman, African Real Estate Society (West African Chapter) ESV Adekunle Awolaja, commented that it only takes the watching eye of professionals to regulate a profession, adding that  guiding against sharp practices in the Real Estate sector can only be achieved when Estate Agents are placed under the watch of professional Estate Surveyors and Valuers.

He mentioned that according to the standards of the developed world, Real Estate Agents are better placed under Estate Surveyors and Valuers.

“Agency should be regulated by those who practice that skill and the only people that have the training and skill are the Estate Surveyors and Valuers. The other agents should have been better placed under us. In the developed parts of the world, they are placed under those who are professionals,” he said.

It would be recalled that NewsDirect had week reported the resolve of the Lagos State Government on adopting strict measures to safeguard  residents of the State from fraudulent practitioners in the Real Estate sector.

The declaration to hunt Estate Agents, and Developers who are enmeshed in the act of defrauding seekers of accommodations and prospective buyers of properties, was made known on Thursday by the Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka.

Stating the resolution of the State to shield Lagosians from real estate quacks and fraudulent practitioners during a press briefing to unveil the change in the name of a department under the Ministry of Housing formerly known as the Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department to Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA), the Special Adviser said that the era when unlicensed practitioners defraud Lagosians with impunity is over in the State.

The event was equally corroborated with the unveiling of the Agency’s Logo and a formal Launch of a Website/ Registration Portal encompassing a database for credible Real Estate Practitioners, who Lagosians can reliably patronize.

According to Benson-Awoyinka, the change in the name also situates an upgrade in the erstwhile department to a full agency that would be supervised by the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing.

It was disclosed that 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.”

According to her, the Website  (www.lasrera.com) and the Registration Portal (www.lasrera.lagosstate.gov.ng) is designed to boost post COVID compliance initiatives and promote transparency, adding that It would become a one stop shop to Stakeholders and Government.

The Special Adviser mentioned that the platform is designed to assist in creating awareness as well as notifying residents of the State on the importance of patronising registered Real Estate Practitioners and Property Developers.