Dealing with illegal agents is a complex issue says EAAB
“We are dealing here with people who have no regard for the rule of law and compliance with industry standards and if left unattended has the potential to destroy the entire sector”
The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) says it agrees if left unresolved the practice of illegal property trading will be damaging to the property industry, but says dealing effectively with the issue requires more than just arresting illegally trading agents.
Nikita Sigaba, acting CEO of the EAAB, said in a recent statement to Property Professional that in this past financial year the Board has prosecuted over 120 estate agents for not complying with the law and those who are practising illegally without a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate as required by the Estate Agency Affairs Board Act.
“Of this number more than half of those agents were prosecuted for illegal trading, although this number is not a complete reflection of the problem of illegal practitioners we believe are out there,” he said adding that it is very difficult to quantify the actual number of illegal practitioners currently since they are not registered anywhere,” he said adding the EAAB relies on the public and the industry as a whole to provide them with this information which will enable the Board to act against such behaviour.
“We are dealing here with people who have no regard for the rule of law and compliance with industry standards and if left unattended has the potential to destroy the entire sector,” Sigaba said, but explained there is more to resolving this issue than arresting the perpetrators.
“The issue here,” added Sigaba, “was not only about non-compliance and having those practising illegally arrested but ensuring that those who are not complying are assisted to comply for the benefit of the industry, in particular previously disadvantaged groups, which will assist with transformation in the sector.”
“It is for this reason that where we come across these estate agents we assist them to comply while proceeding with disciplinary action against them. In addition to this we are working with the South African Police Services by training the Commercial Crime Unit in understanding the Act to enable them to effectively prosecute unregistered estate agents who steal public monies,” said Sigaba.
According to Sigaba the Board has appeared in court to give evidence during prosecution of illegal estate agents.
Sigaba further explained that the Board will conduct research aimed at understanding how big the problem of non-compliance with the Act is, to determine the levels of unlawfulness within the real estate sector.
“The aim of the research is to investigate the nature, forms and levels of unlawful practices and barriers of entry into the real estate sector to develop a framework, reduce non-compliance with the Act and open access by creating opportunities within the real estate sector. The research further seeks to identify whether there is non-compliance with the Act and if any what is the nature and forms of unlawful practices” he said.
Many estate agents have raised concerns about the negative impact of illegal estate agents on the sector and the ability of the Estate Agency Affairs Board to deal with this problem, which Sigaba admits if left unresolved will do great damage to the property industry.
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