The Lagos State government has solicited partnership with realtors in order to tackle fraud and other unwholesome activities in estate agency practice in the state’s real estate market.

The state explained that the need for the partnership with, and cooperation of the realtors in this crusade has become necessary given that many unsuspecting residents of the state looking for houses to buy or rent have fallen victim to fraudsters in agency practice.

There have been cases of estate agents renting one apartment to over 20 prospective tents and making away with their money. Similarly, many home and land buyers have lost substantial amount of money to fraudsters masquerading as estate agents.

Barakat Odunuga-Bakare, Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Housing, who made this appeal, said the need to tackle the agency fraud gave birth to the Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA).

Odunuga-Bakare spoke at an International Investment Summit hosted by Association of Estate Agents in Nigeria (AEAN) in Lagos with the theme, ‘Regulation and Transparency: Promoting Investment and Development within the Real Estate Sector.’

The special adviser who represented the governor at the summit charged AEAN to ensure that, as a professional body, investors’ confidence is restored, especially for those in the Diaspora, adding that issues of fake or dubious practitioners must be addressed by professional bodies.

She disclosed that LASRERA, which was set up with an enabling law signed by the state governor, has the mandate of issuing and renewing permit licenses annually; investigating complaints and petitions against licensed and unlicensed real estate practitioners and property developers, as well as imposing sanctions where necessary.

The agency also has the mandate of eliminating unethical real estate business transactions and conducting training for practitioners in the sector.

In exercising this mandate and promoting investment and development in this sector, the special adviser said LASRERA has made commendable progress, having addressed grievances that emanated from real estate transactions in the State, and resolved 1027 out of 1577 petitions received.

“Worthy of note is the agency’s intervention in an alleged N40 million land scam involving one Kayode Oladipo. The outcome of the case exemplifies our commitment to transparency and zero-tolerance for fraudulent activities in the state’s real estate sector,” she said.

Continuing, she said, “LASRERA registers only qualified real estate professionals who are registered with recognized organizations that operate in the sector. This measure mitigates the risks associated with unregistered agents and briefcase operators prevalent in this state.”

Odunuga-Bakare noted that as governments worldwide safeguard investor-interests, it is imperative that the state provides a conducive environment and adhere to international best standards, pointing that LASRERA actively engages in public awareness campaigns to educate citizens on their rights and responsibilities in real estate transactions.

On their part, the commissioners of Housing, and Physical Planning and Urban Development, Moruf Akinderu-Fatai and Oluyinka Olumide respectively, also solicited the co-operation of the private sector operators in the areas of increasing the state’s housing stock and also compliance to planning permit.

Akinderu-Fatai said the state needs the partnership of private developers in its efforts to provide housing for the ever-growing population of the state and also to close existing housing deficit estimated at three million units.

Olumide revealed that the state has a 20-year development plan, spanning 2024 – 2044, saying that the officials of the state want estate professionals to join hand with them to implement the plan.

He added that the state is also working on value-enhancement of the city centres which, he hoped, would be of benefit to the professionals. “Because of what happened at the Dosumu Market fire where emergency responders could not gain access to the scene of the incident, we are going to enforce building permit approvals strictly,” he said.

“Government is also planning an amnesty programme for properties that have been built without planning permit. This will give owners of such properties opportunity to come forward and register them and also do the necessary survey with the relevant government agency,” he said.

The commissioner said that they were working with banks to make sure that those who will be looking for loans for housing development without the registered survey and building plan permit for such buildings will not be given the loan are looking for.

“We are also going to enforce stage certification of buildings to ensure that builders comply with planning approvals; that what the developer is doing complies with specifications and all the details as specified in the approved plan,” he said, adding that any building that does not comply with all these will be demolished by the state’s building control agency.