A law passed on Tuesday bars expatriate individuals from working as real estate brokers and makes it mandatory for Qatari individuals desirous of operating as property agents to obtain a licence from the Ministry of Business and Trade.
Individuals caught working as real estate brokers and offering properties on rent or for sale without proper licence could be fined QR20,000 to QR50,000.
The law allows Qatari companies (registered under the companies’ law) and individuals to apply for real estate brokerage licences from the trade ministry provided they meet the required conditions.
A company applying for the above license can, however, have a foreign partner or partners but their ownership must not exceed 49 percent.
Foreign employees of real estate brokerage companies are to be issued identity cards by the Ministry of Business and Trade or they would not be permitted to operate in the field, says the law.
The legislation (Law Number 13 of 2011) passed by the Heir Apparent, H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Tuesday comes into force with immediate effect and is to be published in the official gazette.
Individuals or firms licensed to carry out the real estate brokerage business will not be allowed to advertise offering properties on rent or for sale without formal approval from property owners.
Owners would need to supply necessary documents and if the property is for sale, copies of certificates of registration from the Ministry of Justice would be required to be given to the broker or brokerage company.
Also, in the case of both land and property for sale, copies of certificates from the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning and Environment Ministry would be required to be given to the broker or brokerage firm showing that their titles are clear.
A real estate brokerage licence issued either to a company or an individual will be valid for two years and would be renewable.
All advertisements, whether for renting or sale of a property, must clearly specify the location of the property concerned and other vital details, including maximum and minimum rent in case the property is being offered for rent.
Individuals or companies inserting advertisements that breach the above rules are to be fined QR5,000 to QR10,000 and the penalty would double if the violation is repeated.
The law leaves it to the brokers and brokerage firms on the one hand, and property owners and prospective buyers or tenants on the other to decide the commission that would be payable to the former.
The legislation does not specify or puts maximum cap on the commission a broker or brokerage firm could charge in a transaction.
In case of disputes the matter could be taken to court and the latter would decide the commission payable to a broker or a brokerage firm.
The law allows existing real estate agencies to rectify their situation within six months and comply with the law or face the music.
The Administrative Unit of the Ministry of Business and Trade and its (unit’s) staff members have been given the authority by law to regulate the business of the licensed real estate brokers and brokerage firms.
Hailing the law, prominent businessman, Ahmed Al Khalaf, said it would streamline the disorganised real estate sector as unscrupulous middlemen have been taking people for a ride.
“The situation in the real estate sector is chaotic and there are cases where several middlemen try to sell a single property,” said Al Khalaf. “Now things would be organised and unscrupulous middlemen would be out of the brokerage bsiness,” he said.
Nationals commenting on local social networking sites were equally appreciative of the law with many expressing hope that real estate prices as well as rentals would stabilise with the law coming into force.
“We are glad that unscrupulous middlemen will be out of the real estate brokerage business,” said one commentator, while another said that a large number of Yemenis, Indians, Sudanese and Egyptians have been operating as middlemen and earning commissions so they would now be ‘wiped out’ from the sector.
“It’s welcome news. Qatar has finally enforced such a law,” said yet another one. Still another commentator said that Abu Dhabi enforced such a law two years ago and Qatar has done well to follow suit.
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