By Jude Njoku
Early this year, a group of aggrieved tenants numbering about 80 persons who alleged that they were duped of various sums of money, besieged No. 5 Ogundare Street, Oke_Odo, Abule–Egba, a Lagos suburb and threatened to burn down the building. The protesters who came with cans of fuel to set the building ablaze, alleged that the owner of the property connived with some developers to defraud them collectively of over N10 million which they paid for different flats in the building.
This harrowing experience is akin to what many Lagos residents go through on daily basis in the hands of frauds who parade as estate and commissioned agents. Worried by this ugly development, the Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) have initiated measures to checkmate the activities of roadside and unlicenced estate agency practitioners operating in the State.
Only recently, the State government came up with a law which set up a body to administer the management of estate agents operating in the State . The law made it mandatory for all estate agency practitioners to be registered and have known addresses where they can be tracked down. Such agents are required to report their activities to a clearing house. In addition to this, the law stipulates that two members of the Board of Directors of that agency must be qualified estate surveyors and valuers.
On its own part, the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors has applied to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to register the Association of Estate Agents of Nigeria.
Confirming this development to Vanguard Homes & Property, NIESV President, Mr Bode Adediji said the application suffered an initial setback because CAC felt that the role of the Association would conflict with that of NIESV. “But we have since made representation to CAC that the initiative to set up the body directly came from us and that all we are doing is to ensure that those who have the desire to go into the practice of estate agency but without the prerequisite educational qualification to become a full-fledged estate surveyor and valuer are registered. It is good to recognise that cadre and bring them within the ambit of our own professional body and control. We are not doing anything new in the sense that you have registered architects whose professional body regulates draftsmen. A draftsman can design a bungalow or two-storey building but anything above that, a registered architect must sign before it can be approved, “ he explained.
Continuing, the NIESV boss estate agents are part and parcel of partnership that can assist in the housing delivery system. “We believe that once that registration is done, we can then proceed to educate members of the public and set up a training ground for them. But I must let you know that our own focus is this, more than 90 percent of the crises, disappointments and fraud in estate agency in Nigeria is perpetrated by quacks. Even when they are lawyers or educated people, the point is, need to control or monitor them or set up a situation where we can track them down,” said.