History of the Real Estate Board

The Real Estate (Dealers & Developers) Act and the establishment of the Real Estate Board was ultimately the response to an untenable situation which was particularly prevalent in the sixties and seventies, and continued thereafter.

A commission chaired by Sir Herbert Duffus, commenced in 1973 to examine the real estate industry.  In his 1976 interim report, the chairman wrote that “hundreds of purchasers of land and houses in these private schemes had paid deposits with little or no prospect of obtaining land or homes or the return of their money.”  It when on to say “all are agreed that legislation for the strict control of developers is long overdue.  The evidence given at the enquiry has indicated very clearly that there ought to be laws controlling developers, as well as salesmen.”

The report pointed to the inexperience of many land developers, coupled with blatant dishonesty in some cases, leading to failed developments.

Prior to this commission, draft legislation was first prepared from as far back as 1969 and progressed to the point where a third printing of The Real Estate (Licencing of Brokers and Salesmen) Act, in 1972.

A second attempt to get legislation on the statute books was made in 1973 when a new Bill, The Real Estate (Regulation of Sales) Act was drafted, but once again the Bill was never taken to Parliament. 

The Ministry of Finance and Planning in 1975 concluded that, based on statements of complaints made up to that time, some JMD$ 6.33 million were paid over by 2,400 persons to 63 developers as down payments on various forms of real estate, which were never realised.

In 1980, based on the issues spelt out in the Duffus Report and its recommendations, a team of legal consultants worked on a draft bill for a Real Estate and Land Development Act. From the report, it was felt that, as matter of urgency the following had to be addressed:

  • unscrupulous salesmen and real estate who sold inaccessible hillside land to Jamaicans overseas, collected deposits and were not in a position to fulfill contracts of sale since the sub-division could not be approved.
  • developers who were unable to fulfill obligations or to refund deposits from purchasers.

It was further concluded that legislation needed to deal with:

  • deposits collected which could not be recovered when schemes proved impossible to complete
  • lack of sufficient resources when the completed scheme did not provide all the features expected, (sewerage, drainage, etc.)
  • sale of land which was not yet in possession of the developer who later absconded with the deposit
  • sale of development schemes prior to securing approved plans

These problems were addressed in the submission to the Interim Real Estate Board appointed in 1982, chaired by Hon. Ewart Forrest, PC. 

Cabinet gave approval for the formal drafting of legislation to make provision for the licensing, regulation and control of persons engaged as dealers or salesmen in real estate; the regulation of dealings in land in development schemes; and for related matters.

The Real Estate (Dealers & Developers) Act, Act 18 of 1987, was signed by the Governor General on July 24, 1987.

 The Real Estate Board, comprising eleven persons, was first appointed on October 1, 1987 under the chairmanship of Honourable Ewart Forrest PC.  The Act came into operation on September 1, 1988.

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