REAL ESTATE MINUTE: With Cyril Nii Ayitey Tetteh
At some point in your business and personal lives, you may have needed to buy land, rent an apartment or office, build or simply rent temporary space for an event. You would have probably used a broker or agent, some of whom take you on a city wide tour in circles and eventually waste your time after charging ridiculous moving fees. You may also have had to effect a real estate transaction and have had to contend with its tax issues; your sense of security heightened when parting with cash or been suspicious of money laundering activities. The need to sanitize all these transactions is the reason why industry practitioners as well as the consuming public are hailing the passing of the Real Estate Agency Bill by parliament. While we wait for the bill to become an Act, my friends at Meqasa.com have nicely highlighted some of the key aspects and processes of the bill that will help clean up the real estate agency licence acquisition. Find portions of their summary reproduced below:
Requirement for Licence
In order to practise as a real estate agent in Ghana after the coming into force of this bill, a person must have a Licence issued by the Real Estate Agency Council. This will go a long way to improve public trust in real estate practitioners since by virtue of their licence, people shall be confident they are dealing with a professional who is regulated by a body of ethics.
For avoidance of doubt, without a real estate licence issued under the law, a person will not be allowed to provide real estate agency services; provide services as a real estate agent; engage in any business connected with the provision of real estate agency services; or engage in a real estate transaction including the business of finding accommodation for a prospective tenant for a fee. To make it easy for the public to know who is qualified and who is not, the law provides that the Real Estate Council shall submit an annual report to the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Financial Intelligence Centre of licensed persons.
Conditions for Grant of a licence:
The Board may issue a licence to a person if that person is:
An individual who has passed a qualifying examination conducted by the Board, or by an independent testing service designated by the Board. An individual who has not been convicted of a crime involving fraud, dishonesty or moral turpitude; A valuation and estate surveyor registered by the Ghana Institution of Surveyors or is a lawyer licensed by the General Legal Council to practise as a lawyer; In the case of a person who is not resident in this country, is a licensed real estate broker or real estate agent in the country of residence of that person; Has a Tax Identification Number (TIN); In the case of a company, society, association or partnership has submitted an application which is not an application for a licence as real estate agent; has designated at least one of its officers or partners as its representative for the purpose of obtaining the licence; and has, for the purpose of the licence, designated an officer or partner who, as an individual, has a licence to practise as a real estate broker as the representative of that company, society, association or partnership; or has executed and submitted to the Council a mortgage bond or has had executed and submitted to the Council on behalf of that person, by a surety company licensed to operate that business in this country, a mortgage bond in the sum specified and in the form approved by the Board and guaranteed by a surety approved by the Board.
Grant of Licence
After a valid application for a licence has been submitted, the following shall be satisfied before an applicant is granted the applicable real estate licence.
- The Council shall, on receipt of an application, carry out background checks including investigation of criminal history and inspection of the facilities of the applicant that the Board considers necessary.
- The Council shall, within ninety days after the receipt of an application, if the Council determines that the applicant has satisfied the conditions of a licence, grant the applicant a licence.
- A licence issued according to the provision above (2) shall
(a) be in the form determined by the Council;
(b) bear the name and address of the licencee;
(c) specify the nature of the licence by stating whether the licence is granted for a real estate broker or a real estate agent;
(d) in the case of a licence for a real estate broker issued to a
company, society, association or partnership, bear the name of each designated officer or partner to whom, as an individual, a real estate broker’s licence has been issued;
(e) indicate the date of issue;
(f) be valid for two years from the date of issue but be subject to renewal;
(g) be subject to the terms and conditions determined by the Board; and
(h) bear the seal of the Council.
IMPORTANT: A licence issued under this Act shall not be transferred.
Suspension or revocation of a licence
Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the Council shall revoke the real estate broker licence of a company, society, association or partnership, if that company, society, association or partnership ceases to have a licensed real estate broker as the designated officer or broker of that company, society, association or partnership.
The Council shall also revoke the licence of a real estate broker or agent if the Council discovers that the licence was obtained by fraud. Without limiting the above provisions (1st and 2nd paragraph), the Council may revoke the licence of a real estate broker or agent where the agreement entered into by that real estate broker in relation to the licence of that real estate broker ceases to be effective; if that broker or agent is convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for a serious offence; or if in the performance of a function authorised by the licence, the real estate broker or agent knowingly made a fraudulent misrepresentation; acted in the dual capacity of broker and undisclosed principal in the same transaction; acted for more than one party in the same transaction without the knowledge and consent of the parties that the licensee represented in the transaction; accepted, gave or charged an undisclosed commission, rebate or profit on expenditures from a principal; commingled the money or other property of a property owner with those of the licensee; failed to disclose information on a property which is the subject matter of a transaction; or accepted from a prospective seller a net listing.
These are snippets as summarized by Meqasa.com from the Bill that when eventually assented into law, will guide the professional conduct of agents and brokers and also give fewer headaches to the consuming public.
The writer is the Executive director of Yecham Property Consult
& Founder of Ghana Green Building Summit.
Email: [email protected]
Linkedin: Cyril Nii Ayitey Tetteh