New measures needed to protect home buyers


Ujenge's Palm Estate project in Kagugu went into receivership in 2016. (File)


RE:Uncertainty clouds Ujenge’s Palm Estates project as receiver resigns” (The New Times, March 13).

It’s unfortunate that this case is similar to the one of DN International a couple of years back. The rise of another similar case shows that there are systemic weaknesses that the Government needs to move fast to address.

Fortunately, the Government, through the Prime Minister’s Order N° 114/03 of 19/06/2015 determining conditions for authorisation to carry out real estate development operations, has ensured that real estate projects are registered, have adequate personnel, business plan, time frames etc.

However, looking at the above scenario and looking elsewhere in Dubai and India specifically, I propose that the above regulation be fine-tuned to protect the customers who are not adequately protected.

These proposals include:

Although the existing law mentioned includes compulsory registration of new and ongoing projects through the City of Kigali and districts’ one-stop centres, there is a need to do more: All projects should have entire details published on the websites of Rwanda Housing Authority (under whom the real estate regulation responsibility falls as an Authority).

This makes it easier for clients/stakeholders to have all the necessary information for decision making.

The current law is commendable in ensuring that all projects are completed within five years, failure of which the real estate license can be revoked. But it must be specified that the real estate developer must have handed over the houses within the timeframe agreed and Rwanda Housing Authority/Mininfra can set the interest rates to be used for compensation.

Should the developer not do so, the clients should be able to file the complaint with Rwanda Housing and officials in Rwanda Housing can make a decision, without clients engaging in long and costly court processes.

Setting up of an escrow account: This is an account set up for purposes of the real estate development only and which Rwanda Housing Authority would monitor closely to ensure the money is spent for the planned developments.

There could be more measures to be proposed (through a continuous stakeholder consultation) but what is clear is that the existing real estate legal framework does not protect the clients adequately.

I sincerely hope such disputes would be addressed in the clients favour who labour hard to ensure they get housing for a stable future.