On the 1st September, 1988, the Jamaica Real Estate (Dealers and Developers) Act, 1987 came into operation.
Broadly speaking the two main objects of the Act are:
1) The licensing, regulation and control of persons engaged in real estate business as real estate dealers or salesmen.
2) The regulation of dealings in Jamaican land in development schemes.
The Jamaica Real Estate Board
This Act, establishes the Real Estate Board which is the statutory corporation specifically created for administering the provisions of the Act. The status of the Board is such that before the Minister makes certain Regulations he is required to consult with the Board. This body, while possessing wide powers in relation to its various functions, like any other statutory body must act within the general provisions of the law and paiticular1y according to terms of the relevant Act.
The Schedule to the Act prescribes the Board’s constitution and operating procedure. It outlines the functions, duties and responsibilities of the Board and requires the board to give account of its activities.
Decisions of the Board are not necessarily final and conclusive and certain decisions regarding registration of dealers, salesmen and developers are subject to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
The Board is required to afford to every applicant under the Act an opportunity to be heard if refusal of the application is being considered, the role and powers of the Board’s Inspectors are discussed below.
Matters relating to the appointment and powers of real estate inspectors as it relates to monitoring.
The powers of inspectors are fairly wide consisting of power to
(i) Require information
(ii) Require the production of documents
(iii) Enter and search premises, subject to warrant
These powers must be exercised in a reasonable manner and it will be observed that the Act:
1) Allows time for requested information to be supplied
2) Requires that there be reasonable grounds before an Inspector directs production of document
3) Requires an Inspector to produce his identification card on request
4) Makes a warrant issued by a Justice of the Peace a pre-condition for entry to premises.
It should be noted that Inspectors act not on their own behalf but as representative of the Board in order to ensure compliance with the provision of the Act and assist the Board with the discharge of its functions.
Regulation of Real Estate Business
Nature of Real Estate Business
Describing what is meant by “the practice of real estate business” for the purposes of the Act. An understanding of this is important because the control of property business is one of the main purposes of the Act. This means that not everyone can get up and begin advertising homes for sale in Kingston Jamaica.
The practice of realty business involves the carrying out of a number of land-related activities on another’s behalf in exchange for some form of reward or benefit (monetary or otherwise) that is, compensation or valuable consideration. Not all categories of such activities are necessarily regarded as Jamaica property business under the Act and it excludes certain categories of persons from necessarily coming within the scope of the Act, briefly these are:
1. Attorneys (that is, persons conferred with power to act under a power of attorney)
2. Attorneys-at-law acting within the scope of their profession
3. Court officers
4. Persons with certain duties regarding Jamaica property, for example, administrators (of estates of deceased persons), executors of wills, receivers (for example, in relation to companies), trustees.
5. Persons dealing with land which they partly own
6. Other public officers carrying out their official duties
7. Building managers as regards rental of units in the relevant complex.