Lagos Tightens Land Transactions with Mandatory Consultation of Lawyers

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Bennett Oghifo

The Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA) Law has been amended to make it mandatory for all transactions and paperwork in property/real estate to be handled by Lawyers from start to close.

This mandatory engagement of Lawyers in property transactions is to reduce or stem growing incidents of fraud in the system, said the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Housing, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, while underscoring the crucial roles the government expects Lawyers to play in the implementation of the new law.

The Special Adviser gave this clarification in the LASRERA new law recently at the maiden edition of a Stakeholders’ Forum which was held in conjunction with the Construction Projects and Infrastructure Committee of the section on Business Law, Nigerian Bar Association, (CPIC). 

She said it became imperative for Lawyers to be well guided by the provisions of the law so as to enable them to give professional advice to their potential clients in the area of property and real estate business transactions. 

She decried the level of fraud perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals in the state’s real estate industry, stating that “most fraudulent real estate transactions do not engage Lawyers from inception of such transactions to closing.”

She, however, stressed that “the LASRERA Law was reviewed in order to regulate and bring sanity to the real estate sector, as well as all transactions therein,” stressing that “the role of property Lawyers is to protect the interest of all parties in any real estate transaction, as Legal professionals.”

According to her, “Real Estate transactions have relevant processes with necessary documents required for the preparation of specific property business transactions in the sector.   

“In real estate transactions, Lawyers and real estate agents offer completely different services. Real estate agent is involved in the process of buying/selling properties or rental services while all paperwork is handled by a Lawyer as prescribed by the Law.

“To this end, our perspectives and experiences as Learned Professionals will make these deliberations and recommendations impactful while meeting International best practices in the Real Estate Market of the Lagos State Government.” 

Monthly Rent

Speaking on the proposed Monthly Rental Policy Scheme, the Special Adviser noted that the scheme is a social investment programme of the Lagos State Government to alleviate the suffering of the residents seeking comfortable shelters, stressing that the state government would not compel any landlord to subscribe to this initiative.

She added that “such an idea of payment, which has Insurance and Legal coverages, would guarantee consistent pattern of payment by the tenant, while the tenant would also heave a sigh of relief with the burden of unbundling huge amounts on a yearly basis.”

She said: “On the monthly rental scheme, we will not legislate on it, but we will continue to work towards the scheme being generally accepted by the residents. 

“What we are proposing is a scheme whereby we are going to bring in a group of financiers. They would finance this scheme by paying up the landlord on a yearly basis and the tenant gets the opportunity to repay on the monthly basis. It’s a scheme with a single digit of payment that is going to be managed by the private sector and supported by the government.”

In his keynote address, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, expressed optimism about the new law, saying that it was designed to bring sanity into the sector and weed out touts that have made a lot of gains fraudulently from the sector.

Highlighting certain provisions of the law, Onigbanjo talked about the functions of the agency which involved policy formulations, training the stakeholders in real estate transactions, collection of data of players in the industry, issuing of permit and possibly revocation of the same, as well as receive and investigate complaints from the public regarding transactions, amongst others.

He assured that the law would change the landscape of real estate development and management in general.

Onigbanjo, who was represented by the Director Legal Drafting, Mrs Aderinsola Olanrewaju of the Ministry of Justice, explained that law and regulations are very critical to real estate transactions, as the forum would avail participants the opportunity to understand the intricacies of the legislation.

Speaking via a virtual platform, the Chairman, CPIC, NBA Section on Business Law, Mr. Olayode Delano, SAN, said the LASRERA Law would be beneficial to investors and property owners in the state. 

At the panel discussion, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mrs. Abiola Kosegbe clarified the issue of duplication of roles by different government agencies, saying that all MDAs have specific functions, but with areas of synergy.

She explained that while LASRERA concentrates on the post construction stage of real estate, other agencies of government are involved in the conception stage, which involves building materials testing, building control and implementation of approved building plans, among others.

The Company Secretary Secretary/General Counsel, UPDC Plc., Mrs. Folake Kalaro emphasised the need to review the academic qualifications for real estate practitioners as stipulated in the law. 

She stated that the law was a path towards ensuring normalcy in the real estate industry, but wanted the Government to ensure implementation of most of the policies, particularly the aspect that affects the real estate market in the state.

Another panelist, Mrs. Adetola Ayanru, the Managing Partner, Adetola Ayanru & Co, affirmed that the law seeks to address professionalism in the real estate sector, considering the importance of real estate in Lagos State and its contribution to the state’s economy. 

She said when the law becomes fully operational, cases of fraud and sharp practice would become a thing of the past and more foreign direct investments would be attracted to the state.