Modern legislation passed to regulate real estate industry
The National Assembly on Friday morning passed a modern legislation to regulate the real estate industry in Guyana, setting the stage for registration and processing of all individuals and companies that operate in the industry.
In what was described as “long-awaited” legislation, the Real Estate Agents and Brokers Bill, the first of its kind in Guyana which is Bill No. 11 of 2023 was passed into law and is now has to be assented to by President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.
This bill not only covers estate agents and brokers but extends to sales associates, and other related matters.
It seeks to establish a code of conduct for real estate agents and brokers, targeting the licensing of realtors, qualifications required, ethical rules governing transactions, disciplinary procedures, as well as the establishment of a governing authority, and creates offenses for non-compliance, among other issues.
Opening the debate, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, highlighted the importance of the bill and why it was necessary for the government to bring legislation to govern this new and emerging sector.
“The real estate business has been part of our commercial sector from time immemorial. Currently, the real estate is without any regulation whatsoever [although] it is a sector which generates perhaps billions of dollars annually in sales and agreements and employs dozens of persons,” heexplained.
The attorney general highlighted that in the past, citizens have complained of being victims of fraud when attempting to purchase land or rent properties.
“It is simply a free-for-all. This has led to arbitrary and capricious conduct, exploitative practices, unfair and irregular dealings, fraud, and illegalities,” the Attorney General said.
The House was told that the crafting of the bill was done in a collaborative manner, involving several key stakeholders before the final product was tabled in the National Assembly.
Further, the passage of this bill allows for Guyana to become compliant with standards outlined by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. This is to ensure Anti-Money Laundering mechanisms are put in place as this industry is particularly prone to such activities, the attorney general posited.
“This is a good bill…I hardly think that one can interfere constructively with the bill at this stage as it seeks to bring a regulatory framework for the first time to an industry. It has the absolute support of the sector that it intends to regulate,” Minister Nandlall concluded.
Lending support to the bill was Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, who highlighted that the bill creates a regulatory body and disciplinary committee that will overlook and investigate possible complaints that arise within the industry.
“Mr Speaker, the bill does a very good job of putting together a regulatory framework that will go a long way to bringing standards and ethics to the sector…the bill establishes a regulatory authority which will be responsible for vetting, registering and licensing real estate brokers…there is an extensive provision that details behaviour including a breaching of a code of ethics which the authority is to promulgate,” she explained.
Further, Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal spoke to the bill’s relevance considering the economic development being experienced across the country.
“These stringent, yet clear regulations attract investors, ensures transparency, and protects ultimately the consumers…It covers as far as I can tell all eventualities. While it may take sometime before it can be fully implemented, it will take us closer to the goal of mitigating some of the immediate risks present in the sector,” Minister Croal posited.
Also recommending the bill to the House were Members of Parliament Alister Charlie and Dharamkumar Seeraj.
With the massive economic expansion in Guyana, there has been a significant increase in the number of property sales and rental transactions in Guyana.
The passage of this bill forms part of the PPP/C government’s commitment to ensuring the updating and modernising of Guyana’s legislative architecture.
The bill benefitted from consultations and is similar to the legal framework present in other Caribbean countries.