In Industry News

The publication of the new PP Act Regulations and the PPRA’s failure to timeously produce detailed guidelines was followed by stakeholders interpreting and adapting the legislation subjectively to suit their own agendas. Many stakeholders seem to try to steer the discussion away from the intended objectives of the PP Act i.e., to transform the property industry, remove obstacles and protect consumers.

What might be in the best interests of the industry, is often ignored.

Over time more than 10 Regulations were gazetted during the lifespan of the previous Act. It is quite clear that all these regulations were replaced on 1 February by the Minister. The intended interpretation of many clauses in the Regulations have been accepted at face value in many instances.

Nobody, for example, argues that the fees payable by property practitioners have been amended by the new regulations – dramatically so. For some reason, the same logic does not seem to apply as far as the standard of training is concerned. An argument is made that one thing and one thing only has remained unchanged and that is the retention of the NQF 4 qualification – nothing else seems to be as deserving of this accolade.

The argument employed to justify this approach is based on section 75 (6) of the PP Act: “All regulations made in terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act remain in full force and effect as if they had been made in terms of this Act”. What these protagonists must note is the last part of the sentence “as if they had been made in terms of this Act.” This simply means the old regulations were in place as if the Minister published it and until the Minister replaced it with more recent regulations.

It is equally clear that no provision was made for a “transition phase” or “period”. The entire Section 75 refers to events on 1 February 2022. Clearly the expectation was that the PPRA would be ready on 1 February 2022 to implement the Act, except for the creation of the Transformation Fund for which the Act allows a 6-month period. Please see legal opinions attached

Despite legal opinions providing an intelligible approach to a practical interpretation, this approach has been shunned by some stakeholders who seem to prefer to adapt the regulations to suit their own needs.

As of now 23 400 candidates had to pass NQF 4 at an average cost of R10,000 pp, that is R234 million – an unnecessary burden on new recruits and a motivation for imaginative interpretation.

Streamlining and simplifying the requirements to become an estate agent makes sense, especially considering that more than half of the industry after many years are still  “interns” – a clear indication that the previous system was not serving the industry well.

Regulation 33 in respect of the standard of training is very much in line with the proposals made by the NPPC and has the support of all leading industry bodies. This means the  industry endorses the new approach and the abolition of the NQF 4 pre-requisite. The curricula of NQF 4 and PDE 4 seem to be remarkably similar, even using the same content in the study guides. Regardless of obtaining the   NQF 4 qualification, agents are currently only deemed qualified Property Practitioners after passing the PDE 4 exam. In line with the new Regulations the PDE 4 stays in place and is coupled with better supervision through the co-signing of agreements and improved real time practical training. More importantly – PDE 4 can be completed before joining a firm or registering with the PPRA.

This is a real breakthrough and will go a long way in assisting recruits to start earning an income much sooner than in the past.

For years the industry has come under scrutiny for not transforming. The PP Act attempts to address these past imbalances. In his State of the Nation address the President announced the appointment of Sipho Nkosi to cut the red tape and streamline bureaucratic delays to grow and develop small businesses to boost economic growth and employment opportunities.

It therefore seems utterly nonsensical that some players in the industry would interpret the Regulations in a way that is contradictory to governments’ objectives and counter-productive to job creation and the financial well-being of thousands of Property Practitioners.

Jan le Roux

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