Parliament Targets Real Estate Sector Reform with New Legislation

The parliament convened on Wednesday to discuss longstanding issues within the country’s real estate sector. Introduced by Thoddoo MP Hassan Shiyan, the ‘Real Estate Business Bill’ seeks to address these issues and promote sustainable growth within the industry.

At the heart of the proposed legislation lies a commitment to promoting accountability, transparency, and development within the Maldivian real estate landscape. Under the bill’s provisions, all real estate projects, developers, and promoters are mandated to register under regulations outlined by the Ministry of Housing, Land, and Urban Development. This regulatory framework seeks to streamline operations, ensuring adherence to proposed timelines and rigorous monitoring of project progress.

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The bill’s genesis can be traced to past grievances, where stalled projects and financial losses befell unsuspecting buyers. In response, the bill presents a comprehensive set of protective measures designed to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders. These include:

  • Provision of detailed project timelines, plans, and essential information to potential buyers.
  • Empowerment of buyers to inspect project sites for quality assurance and monitor construction progress.
  • Entitlement to compensation for losses incurred due to project-related issues.
  • Strict prohibition of project advertising without prior registration with the Ministry of Housing, Land, and Urban Development.
  • Mandatory execution of real estate business agreements, specifying delivery dates for units.
  • Imposition of limits on booking fees, ensuring adherence to regulations specified by the Act.
  • Provision for compensation if the delivered unit deviates significantly from project advertisements.
  • Establishment of separate Escrow accounts to safeguard payments made by unit owners.
  • Implementation of a transparent transaction mechanism between unit owners and developers.
  • Guarantee of compensation for unit owners in case of project delays, as per regulations outlined in the Act.
  • Establishment of an accessible complaint submission system for grievances related to projects.

Moreover, the bill delineates stringent penalties for violators, granting the ministry authority to withhold permits, revoke licenses, and levy hefty fines. Offenders may face fines amounting to 30% of the total project cost or alternative penalties ranging from MVR 100,000 to MVR 1,000,000, or 10% of the project cost.

Crucially, the bill empowers the ministry to refer criminal offences to relevant investigative agencies, underscoring a commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring accountability within the real estate sector.

For many Maldivians, the unveiling of the ‘Real Estate Business Bill’ signals a new era of trust, reliability, and security within the real estate market. As the nation strives for progress and prosperity, this legislation represents a vital step towards realizing a fair and regulated environment for investors and homeowners alike.

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