In Industry News

Courtesy: Property Professional Magazine

EAAB will assist previously disadvantaged agents with FFC’s

The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) says soon estate agents from previously disadvantaged groups (PDIs) should be able to apply for exemption from some of the current requirements to qualify for a fidelity fund certificate (FFC).

The EAAB has just completed a national awareness campaign to inform estate agents from previously disadvantages groups that they will soon be able to apply for exemption from some of the Act’s requirements to qualify for an FFC, without which agents can’t operate legally as estate agents. 

Last Thursday a small group of less than 20 agents were addressed in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape. The EAAB’s disqualifications and claims manager, advocate Debbie Vial, explained the regulator’s decision to allow exemptions when qualifying for an FFC was prompted by the current untransformed state of the property sector. “The property sector is lily-white and needs to change as a matter of urgency,” Vial said.

She continued that the Board has since realised that part of the problem hindering transformation has been the requirements to qualify for an FFC as set in the 1976 Estate Agency Affairs Act. Some of the requirements, such as annually having to have an audit done of a trust account or acquiring the educational qualifications within the prescribed time period, are expensive and had become barriers to transformation as they are keeping people out of the profession.

“The Board has now found a way through Section 27 of the Act to facilitate transformation of the sector by granting exemption from requirements of the Act, where it is in the interest of justice to do so,” Vial explained.

Previously disadvantaged agents are those as defined in terms of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act 53 of 2003. The Board made a resolution that PDI agents, who do not otherwise qualify, may apply to be issued with an FFC on terms and conditions allowed by the Board.

She said the Board do expect that there will be a backlash from white agents who would also want to apply for exemption. Vial said they would be told to approach the Constitutional Court.

Exemptions that PDI agents can apply for include the following:

  • Exemption from submission of audit reports – but still submitting financial statements
  • Exemption from full or partial payment of registration and renewal fees for FFC’s
  • Exemption from the educational requirements – this means the agent can work with a valid FFC for two years (which can be extended for one more year) while studying for the NQF4 qualification

Certain general conditions do apply – amongst others the applicant has to prove that his turnover does not exceed R5 million per annum. The Board will also take into account constraints such as serious health conditions, historical educational disadvantages and the geographic location of the agent. Applications will have to include a signed affidavit, 12-month bank statements and other supporting documents as are needed.

It is important that estate agents should be regulated as there are unscrupulous criminals out there defrauding vulnerable people Vial said. It is therefore important to note that should the agent not comply with the conditions under which the FFC was granted (e.g. doesn’t submit bank statements or don’t obtain the required qualification in the extended time), then the FFC becomes invalid.

Vial explained that the Board is in the process of finalising the implementation process for the exemption applications to run smoothly and should have everything ready within the next six weeks. Once all is ready, there will be a link on the EAAB website where PDI agents can apply online to qualify for an exemption.

Some of the attending agents welcomed the announcement but added that it is unfortunate that it has taken a such long time. Sipho Tyira, EAAB Transformation Project Manager,  acknowledged that the EAAB in the past lacked the drive to make it easier for PDI agents to become estate agents, but said things are changing at the regulator, especially with the new CEO Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi for whom transformation is a top priority.

“Transformation is no longer a nice conversation we are having over a cup of tea – a ‘new dawn’ is also breaking for the EAAB, if I may use the phrase,” he said. Tyira encouraged PDI agents to form representative bodies that could speak on their behalf to the EAAB.

Any queries on the exemptions may be addressed either to Vial on debra.vial@eaab.org.za or to Tyira on sipho.tyira@eaab.org.za .

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