Real estate regulations in Guyana long overdue – AG Nandlall

…as local agents concern about lack of laws

The Guyana Government will be moving to regulate the local real estate industry – something which Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC, says is long overdue, and is necessary now more than ever, given the country’s development trajectory.
The need for regulations to govern the real estate industry in Guyana was raised by a group of real estate agents. They met with AG Nandlall on Tuesday to raise their concerns about the lack of relevant laws, and requested a regulatory framework to be established to govern the real estate sector in the country.
It was noted that the real estate agents explained that due to the massive increase in sale of real estate in Guyana, and with the new Condominium Bill expected to come into force shortly, there is a need to regulate the sector, especially since international real estate companies are now operating in the sector.

Attorney General & Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC, with local real estate agents

According to the Legal Affairs Minister, this request is a timely one.
“It is something that is long overdue, and the need for regulation to be brought to this industry has assumed even greater importance since we have become an oil and gas producer. Large companies have come here; huge transactions are taking place involving the sale and transfer of lands; you have joint venture arrangements being entered into to the tune of billions of dollars, and we have an unregulated real estate industry,” Nandlall posited.
Moreover, the Attorney General explained that the real estate sector is one of the sectors that Guyana has an obligation to regulate by way of legislation under the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) structure.
“As we have become an oil-producing country, our regulatory framework, and accountability framework, and transparency network in respect of Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism must also be constantly updated, and we are doing that,” he said.
“The real estate industry is an important part of the AML/CFT apparatus because it is true, real estate can be a very fertile avenue for the laundering of money and the proceeds of crime… Because of the intense commercial activities taking place, it is important for us to incorporate formally into our legal structure, and establish a regulatory framework, the real estate industry and to regulate its operations so that the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) and all the monitoring agencies can embrace the real estate sector as part of the AML/CFT structure,” Nandlall pointed out.
Against this backdrop, the Attorney General invited the real estate agents who attended Tuesday’s meeting to make submissions of model legislation, which will be reviewed and approved by the Government after consulting with the sector before it is taken to Parliament for enactment.
Already, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has tabled a Condominium Bill in the National Assembly to regularise condos in Guyana. That Bill will come up for debate and passage at the next sitting, which is set for Tuesday, May 17.
This, AG Nandlall contended, is another piece of legislation that is preparing the legal landscape of Guyana for the takeoff that is being witnessed.
“I keep saying all the time, we have to update our laws, we have to revamp our legal system to ensure that it embraces the modern changes that are taking place, or else the legal system and the law will be left behind and commerce will run ahead. We can’t allow that to happen, we must do it in sync, and the society must move forward as a whole. No society can advance without the law as an institution being there to regulate the conduct of human affairs,” he stated.
The Condominium Bill 2022, which was tabled on April 15, allows for persons who have purchased duplexes or condominiums from the state to soon be able to access the titled documents for their properties.
With six parts and 65 clauses, the Bill makes provision for the horizontal and vertical subdivision of land and buildings into units for individual ownership, and for the use and management of condominiums.
Among other things, the Bill paves the way for commercial banks to accept titles for the properties, and insurance companies to issue policies to owners of condominiums.
Clause 19 of the Bill states that units in a condominium constitute the immovable property, while Clause 20 provides for the title of ownership of a condominium unit.
Clause 44 empowers unit owners to insure their respective units. The Bill also requires that proposed declarations and descriptions of units be approved by the Minister before a condominium is constructed, or before an existing building is converted into a condominium.
It also empowers the Housing Minister to approve, reject, or direct the amendment of a proposed declaration and description.
The crafting and tabling of such a Bill fulfills the promise of the PPP/C Government, made after it was discovered that the former Coalition Administration had constructed duplexes (a home with two individually-owned units in one building) without amending the relevant legislation that guides the regulation of such properties.
The Bill was crafted by the Ministry of Housing and the Attorney General’s Chambers. It forms part of the Government’s legislative agenda which is directed towards a revamp of many of the archaic and outmoded laws of the country, as well as to lay the foundation for the economic development anticipated to take place in the very near future.