An outside view of a section of USIU's student hostels. [David Gichuruj, Standard]

The Estate Agents Registration Board (EARB) has raised concerns over the upcoming real estate associations to regulate the sector.

The concerns come after the Association of Real Estate Stakeholders announced in April that they had formed an association to protect buyers from unscrupulous land-buying companies.

EARB, which is the regulatory body for the estate agency practice in Kenya, is now raising an alarm.

Its mandate, it said is to register estate agents and to ensure the practice of estate agency is of high standards in order to protect the public.

EARB said it is the sole statutory body mandated under Kenyan law to oversee and regulate the real estate sector.

‘‘We are here today to express concern over the proliferation of new associations seeking to regulate the real estate sector. Most of these are mutations of land buying companies that have previously swindled Kenyan citizens, through pretenses that they are in a position to sell them land,’’ said EARB chairperson Eunice Macharia during a press briefing.

‘‘We want to warn Kenyans that these groupings have no mandate to register estate agents. The associations are not registered or regulated by the government and any persons associating with them may be exposed to fraud and their interests vulnerable.’’

She said the board has tried reaching out to some of these groups but their efforts have been fruitless.

This, she said is largely attributable to the amorphous nature of the groupings and their unwillingness to comply with the law.

The Estate Agents Act Cap 533 of the laws of Kenya gives authority to EARB for the registration of persons who, by way of business, negotiate for or otherwise act in relation to the selling, purchasing, or letting of land and buildings on behalf of a property owner.

The board warned members of the public against being misguided by what it called unscrupulous land-buying companies.

‘‘In the past, we have seen the public losing money to these companies. They often promise heaven but deliver hell. We would urge property buyers to be diligent in their investments on land and ensure they are dealing with credible entities, specifically, those run by registered and licensed estate agents,’’ said Macharia.

The board asked anyone committing to a land deal should ensure they carry out due diligence on the titles, ensure the subdivision schemes are approved by the relevant county and national governments, and that the parcels have the requisite titles (not share certificates).

With the property sector being key to the economy, the board said it is crucial to have effective regulation to ensure transparency, fair practices, and consumer protection.

‘‘The Board is working with the Ministry to bridge the gap between the ideal and the current situation, by pushing for legislative and policy amendments. Indeed, a new Estate Agents Bill and a raft of regulations are under consideration by the Attorney General for onward transmission to Parliament,’’ Macharia said.

The board urged all associations and industry practitioners to abide by and support the regulatory framework established by law, which provides a robust foundation for the industry's sustainable growth.

‘‘We urge the public to be wary of these new associations and to only deal with estate agents who are registered and licensed by EARB,’’ she said.

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