Bill proposed to protect consumers against rogue property agents

The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade this week proposed the establishment of a fund to compensate consumers whose money has been stolen by property agents.

Trade minister Lucia Iipumbu tabled the bill in the parliament on Tuesday, saying the fund would act as insurance for consumers.

“This part of the bill is key and a welcome development as it aims to provide protection to consumers against the theft of money that has been entrusted to a property practitioner,” she said.

She said the new bill would require property practitioners, including property developers, auctioneers and property managers and real estate agents, to obtain a Fidelity Fund Certificate.

This would require all property practitioners to have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate before conducting and concluding any transaction.

“It is worth noting that this piece of legislation is consumer centric and aims to provide protection to the consumer within the property sector,” Iipumbu said.

Lucia Iipumbu

The bill also wants to establish the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority to oversee the industry.

“The Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority sets out the duties and functions of the Authority,”said Iipumbu.

The Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority would replace the Namibia Estate Agency Board.

The bill would consider including more professions.

“In addition to the certification of ‘traditional’ estate agents, the bill has introduced the certification of, among others, auctioneers, property developers and property managers who will collectively be known as property practitioners,” .

Currently, there are only regulations for estate agents.

Economist Josef Sheehama says the bill would significantly alter the standards and practices of the property industry.
“To ensure that all relevant parties are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged, all role-players should adjust their practices to be in compliance,” he says.

Sheehama says the Fidelity Fund will inspire confidence.

“To boost consumer confidence and provide better protection, players must open separate accounts to which funds will be transferred,” he says.
Sheehama says if the proposed changes are implemented, it has the potential to significantly change the industry.

“Therefore, with more focused implementation, I’m sure major estate agents and other businesses can be established,” he says.

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