A U.S.-based real estate expert, Chief Andy Evuleocha, on Friday, suggested that a board, including real estate attorneys, be established to regulate transactions in the sector in Nigeria.
Evuleocha made the suggestion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Owerri.
He said that the board should be responsible for formulating rules and code of ethics governing real estate transactions.
He added that the establishment of the board would eliminate fraud, which had, hitherto, discouraged foreign and local investments into the sector.
He explained that “the rules, when formulated, should give tenants and landlords protective rights and a court system that will enforce the rules and regulations.
“If the sector is properly organised, a lot of jobs will be created and government will also rake in fortunes from it as revenue.
“There should be property managers/management companies, whose responsibilities should be to draw up rental lease agreements.
“The agreement will address the utility issues and property conditions before and at the expiration of lease agreements.
“Usually, lease agreements run for six to 12 months, after which the tenant/occupant renews it with the same terms and conditions or an addendum to it is prepared and agreed to.’’
The real estate expert said that the lease agreement period should define who should be liable for past, present and future utility bills.
Evuleocha said that utility companies should have a copy of the lease agreements for each occupant, stressing that it should not be the responsibility of new tenants to determine the fitness of a property for occupancy.
He then emphasised the need for the development of a database, where each tenant information would be stored.
According to him, information like names, date of birth, place of birth, national identity, and two references should be in the database.
“This will enable the utility companies to go after such defaulters, if bills are not paid, rather than the bill passed onto the next occupant.’’
Evuleocha advised Nigerian property owners to collect money meant for utilities like water and electric bills to be put into an escrow account.
On whether lawyers should act as property agents, Evuleocha said it was totally wrong for lawyers to abandon their profession and stray into real estate management.
“We need to have lawyers to interpret the laws of the land and leave real estate transactions to the professionals.’’