A new bill meant to sanitise the real estate industry and ensure that standards are met has been laid before Parliament for consideration and approval.
When passed into an act, the Real Estate Authority Bill 2020 will regulate real estate agency practice, the conduct of real estate practitioners, commercial transactions in real estate including the sale, purchase, rental, and leasing of real estate, as well as other real estate transactions.
It will also establish the Real Estate Agency Council to license real estate brokers, issue real estate transfer certificates, and monitor the performance of the brokers.
The bill’s memorandum said there is a need to regulate real estate agency services to rid the industry of fraud, laundering of illegal income, and tax evasion so as to minimise the effect of these vices on the national economy and the international image of the country.
The law would require a real estate broker to submit within three months after the end of each calendar year to the Council a report covering the real estate transactions undertaken by the real estate broker and the agents of that broker in the previous year.
A person who fails to submit annual reports to the Council or fails to conspicuously display the licence issued in accordance with the law would be liable to pay to the Council an administrative penalty of 1,000 penalty units.
Criminal sanctions, of up to 10 years’ imprisonment, are also provided for document falsification and engagement in a real estate transaction without a licence.
According to the secretary to the Executive Council of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA), Sammy Amegayibor, the proposed law will help sanitise the sector, ensure genuine businesses flourish, and weed out charlatans.
He added that government would be able to improve revenue from real estate transactions “because [presently] people sell houses but the requisite taxes that are supposed to be paid, such as stamp duty, are not being paid.”
If the real estate sector is well regulated, he said, then the government could mobilise more resources to address other constraints in the industry, such as land issues and weak regulations.
This is not the first time a bill to regulate the real estate sector has been presented to Parliament. In 2014, the erstwhile NDC government presented the Real Estate Regulatory Bill to regulate the industry, but the law did not see the light of day at the time.
The current bill is, however, expected to get the green light from Parliament in this current meeting of the House to bring the needed sanity to the sector.
The government expects the bill’s passage to strengthen the anti-corruption initiatives in the country and curb money-laundering and other financial malpractices in the sector.