The Real Estate Board (REB) continues to play a key role in regulating Jamaica’s real estate industry.
“Our role is to ensure professionalism by dealers, salesmen and developers [and] to ensure that developers honour their contractual obligations. That includes protecting purchasers’ deposits if the purchase is done before the unit or the lot is built,” said Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sandra Garrick, in an interview with JIS News.
The CEO emphasised that not every purchase comes under its purview; only those referred to as pre-payment purchases.
The REB also registers and licenses dealers and salesmen, registers developers and developments, and conducts monitoring of developments to ensure that there is compliance with the law, and to protect purchasers involved in transactions.
Mrs. Garrick noted that where these professionals act outside of the law, “most of the breaches call for a criminal penalty”.
She informed that once the Board of Directors is advised of a breach, the file is sent to the police for investigation. If a clear breach of the law is detected, the file is then handed over to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“Most of our cases that we have handed over are cases that involve failure to register the development, which is a criminal offence,” the CEO said, adding that the REB would first write the developers reminding them to register as well as to state the importance of the registration.
Mrs. Garrick clarified that the REB’s monitoring activities “[have] nothing to do with ensuring that the developer builds in accordance with the approvals of the local planning authority”, noting that each entity has its own scope of powers, and the entity does not have the authority to oversee approvals of another government agency.
She told JIS News that the REB also operates a Complaints Department, where all grievances received are investigated.
“What we have found happening on quite a few occasions is that persons are selling lots that they do not own. So, we would do a title search of the area and realise that the developer does not own the property at all. In that case, we are duty-bound to hand that file over to the police and send that client on to the police, so that they can then investigate to see if something untoward has happened there,” Mrs. Garrick noted.