Board opposes new Bill on regulation of real estate agents

A section of Green Park Estate in Athi River, Machakos. The bill aims to establish mechanisms to regulate real estate agents and projects. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The Estate Agents Registration Board (EARB), which regulates real estate agents in the country, has opposed a Bill that seeks to regulate the agents.

The Real Estate Regulation Bill, 2023 sponsored by Trans Nzoia Senator Allan Chesang was gazetted on September 11, 2023 and aims to regulate real estate agents, developers of properties for sale purposes and land buying companies that subdivide land for sale.

The proposed law seeks to cut out fraudsters in the real estate sector, who have caused suffering to land and house buyers.

Under the regulation, the real estate agents will be stopped from facilitating the sale of any parcel of land, apartment, or building in a real estate project, which is not registered in accordance with the Act.

“A person shall not practice as a real estate agent unless that person has been issued a practising license by the Board of Directors and has complied with the requirements of this Act,’’ reads the Bill.

But according to the EARB, the Bill should be redrafted to regulate only land buying companies and property developers and not agents since they are already regulated under the Estate Agents Act Cap 533 and therefore ‘‘there is no vacuum.’’

“The proposal to regulate real estate agents professionals together with the developers and land buying companies who are business people is unreasonable and awkward,’’ said EARB Chairperson Eunice Macharia during a press conference in Nairobi yesterday.

“The professional real estate agent or practitioner is a distinct specialisation that requires training, practice and competence.

“Our universities are producing over 300 real estate graduates annually. The profession is more than just facilitating selling and letting of property but encompasses property and facilities management, retail management, feasibility studies among other disciplines.’’

The board said the two groups adhere to different codes of conducts and call for distinct disciplinary mechanisms and different approaches in regulating them.

The Bill, the EARB said, adopts a narrow view of the estate agent, mainly as the person who offers for sale or let real estate projects.

‘‘This only comprises one subsector of real estate agency; brokerage. It tends to ignore the fact that the real state is a profession both in training and practice that goes beyond brokerage,’’ said Ms Macharia.

“We therefore find the proposed ill inferior to the already existing regulatory framework for estate agents that only require minimal amendments.

“Indeed, the board together with the Ministry of Lands, Physical Planning and Urban Development have already initiated the process of carrying out the requisite amendments to the Estate Agents Act.’’

Macharia said the process of amendments is at an advanced stage and will include categorisation of real estate agents.

EARB also faulted the Bill on composition of the board that will be in charge of regulating and registering estate agents, saying it does not specify what type of profession will be required for a member of that board.

‘“The Bill only says the members will include representative from National Treasury without specifying whether this member will be a real estate professional or not. 

“Professionals all over are regulated by boards that mainly comprise of professionals in the specific area of specialisation...that’s why they are called professional boards.”

EARB is now suggesting that the Senator redrafts the Bill to only regulate land buying companies and developers.

Board member Jesse Kihoro urged legislators to consult professional bodies before coming up with a Bill.

“For this proposed Bill, for instance, we were not consulted yet we are professionals in this real estate subsector sector.

“I would like to urge our parliamentarians to always be consulting professionals in the sector that they want to come up with policies because they know better than them and also to avoid such confusion we are seeing now,” he said.

EARB said it will be holding a one-day conference next week to discuss the Bi among other issues affecting the real estate sector.