On February 13, 2023, MahaRERA (Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority) issued the latest circular for real estate agents, requiring them to submit half-yearly reports of their transactions in order to increase accountability and transparency.
In accordance with the criteria established by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the circular also made it necessary for real estate agents with a turnover of more than 20 lakhs to designate a primary officer and an appointed director in their firms and update the record with authority. The real estate agent, defined under section 2 of RERA as “a person carrying on a designated business or profession,” was notified by the PMLA in November 2022.
The Directorate General of Audit, Indirect Taxes, and Customs’ PMLA guidelines mention that real estate provides a practical way to launder significant funds in a single transaction and offers additional benefits for criminals, such as assisting in securing housing, ensuring social respectability, and providing an immediately accessible good of material benefit. A real estate agent must be able to do customer due diligence (CDD) procedures, including identification and verification, because real estate is frequently an asset that appreciates, generates returns, and serves as a vital source of personal benefits.
What’s the new update in the Real Estate Industry?
Real estate agents are already obligated by Section 10 (b) of RERA and MahaRERA Rule 11 (5) to keep and preserve separate books of accounts, records, and documents for each project. MahaRERA Rule 16 specifies that these records must be produced for inspection as and when necessary under the provisions of the Income Tax Act and the Companies Act.
The circular also instructed certified real estate agents to post on their websites half-yearly transaction progress reports for April through September and October through March under Form 6. The circular further said that, following the financial calendar, the second half-yearly report should be uploaded no later than April 20 and the April to September report no later than October 20.
According to the directive given by MahaRERA secretary Vasant Prabhu, “action, as judged necessary, shall be initiated by the authority in the event the half-yearly progress report is not provided in the manner and as per the dates indicated above.” An official stated that “the commissions received by the agent will not be made public” and that the order would take effect on April 1st, 2023. In order to promote more transparency and citizen empowerment, it was also made explicit that only sections marked with an asterisk would be made public.
Real estate agents would need to take online tests and earn competency certificates from the authority by September 2023 before they are authorised to conduct business, according to a separate MahaRERA announcement from January.