GCCPC study reveals estate dealers give ‘misleading’ adverts

Apr 9, 2021, 11:29 AM | Article By: Fatou Bojang

The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s (GCCPC) study 2020 on the state of consumer welfare in the real estate industry has revealed that some of the real estate companies have been engaged in false and misleading advertisements as they misrepresent their locations, amenities near the location and size of lands that are sold to consumers.

These revelations were made known on Thursday at the validation of the study on the state of consumer welfare in the real estate industry.

The findings further showed that there are other consumer protection issues occurring in the industry such as consumer’s difficulty in getting access to ownership of title documents or property after finalising payments, inadequate disclosure and high penalties for consumers opting out of services, others .

As indicated in the report, “in the first half of 2020, the Commission received 13 complaints of consumers in the real estate industry worth up to three million dalasis all of which are in relation to payments being finalised by consumers, after which they are either unable to obtain their transfer documents or are not shown their properties. In some instances, they are shown the property and they later find out that the said property is already owned by someone else. All these are violations of section 8(3) of the Consumer Protection Act 2014.”

This research was carried out by the commission in order to have knowledge of the real estate industry and assess the state of consumer welfare to be able to devise strategies that will protect consumers.

GCCPC was established in 2017 to enforce the Competition Act of 2007 and administer the Consumer Protection Act 2014. The Commission in light of the findings recommends a regulatory body for the industry. “The commission with the power invested in it by the Consumer Protection Act 2014, recommends for the sector to be assigned a regulator. The stakeholders in the transaction process to be adequately trained and held accountable for their actions, and the introduction of a digital real-time land ownership database.”

The Commission also urged the Ministry of Lands and Local Government to ensure that the sector is stringently regulated in order to make the industry consumer oriented, economically vibrant and financially beneficial to the stakeholders.