Industry divided on CPD disqualifications

Sep 27, 2018 | Local Property

“Most professions operate some form of CPD and I believe that many of the general public now see us in a better light”

Whether applause for taking decisive action or lambasting the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) for administrative inefficiencies – the Board’s disqualification of more than 4 300 agents over failing to comply with continuing professional development (CPD) requirements certainly has the industry abuzz. Here’s what some of you had to say and the steps you must do if you are affected.

To recap: Just before Christmas 2014, the EAAB broke the news that all full status agents, including intern agents that gain full status between 2015 to 2017, will be required to participate in continuing professional development (CPD) training. The purpose was to improve the level of professionalism within the industry. There after numerous reminders were sent out to agents to participate in the training, a process made easier by the introduction of the E-learning portal. The first rolling CPD-cycle ended on 31 December 2017 with three extensions afterwards granted up to 31 March 2018 for agents to complete their required CPD points. The penalty for failing to comply was disqualification as an estate agent registered with the Board.

It sounds simple enough yet 4 346 agents in September received emailed notification that they had been disqualified for failing to meet the CPD requirements. Read more here

An industry abuzz

The EAAB often bears the brunt of complaints from agents and agencies especially about their administrative inefficiency. In this case, although there appear to have again been some administrative foul-ups, there were applause for the decisive action taken by the EAAB. One of the thumbs-up came from Dr James Otter, a registered estate agent as well as an assessor and moderator for NQF levels 4 and 5. He says “this time the EAAB is on the high ground, because delinquents (like me) were given sufficient notice to put their houses in order (which I did last year)”.

“Most professions operate some form of CPD and I believe that many of the general public now see us in a better light, due to the introduction of the higher qualifying standards in 2008, the initiatives for which came from the EAAB. It is easy to adopt a negative approach and to criticize the CPD presentations generally as sub-standard, although some are in my view very good, he said adding that he believes it is also important to give positive and negative feedback to the EAAB. I urge my fellow professionals who have not done the CPD program to do so in the spirit of staying relevant in a constantly changing business environment, aside from the issue of legitimacy,” he concludes.

Property consultant Jim Alexander says although the CPD content and costs both require serious attention and while there are and have been administrative and technical issues in dealing with the board on various compliance issues, including CPD, they have been they have also been overly-lenient with said errant agents on several fronts over the years. It is high time they took decisive action against them and their principals.

“The educational process for agents is not rocket science, especially the CPD- pay your money and go to e-learning. They could not have made the CPD compliance process any easier, if ridiculously expensive! Well done EAAB, at last!” he concludes.

On the other hand there were some that said they are now really fed-up with the EAAB and others that felt the EAAB had exceeded their mandate as regulatory body by enforcing the CPD requirements. One of them is Charles Haigh, former chairman of IEASA and trustee of the trust who said the “punishment is far too drastic for the “crime” and infringes on one’s constitutional right to earn a living”.

Another agent, Ian Badenhorst says he agrees with Leo Mlambo of the National Property Forum that said previously it is unacceptable that “additional illegal practitioners” are created by “blocking principals and agents for CPD points”. Badenhorst says the purpose of the EAAB should purely be to regulate the registration of agents where as another body such as a union, perhaps in conjunction with the Board, should deal with agents that “bring the industry into ill repute”. He hopes the new Property Practitioners Bill will bring greater clarity on the specific role of the regulating body.

“Let’s hope the Industry and in particular the EAAB, when it becomes the new Body, does proper soul searching into its befitting role. Let the New Bill enforce the conditions and registration requirements of the profession, but allow the professional bodies such as NAMA, REBOSA, EAASA and others set the training and compliance of behaviour to rules and conduct, which the new bill is to enforce, and ensure all practitioners are registered in the industry,” says Badenhorst. He also proposes separate registration for the specialists in the industry such as managing agents, selling agents, rental agents etc.

Currently the EAAB according to the Estate Agency Affairs Act, as a service to the public, has the mandate to regulate the estate agency profession by ensuring all estate agents are registered with the EAAB.

Rebosa offers to assist

Among those disqualified were several agents that have since asked for help saying they have proof that they did submit their CPD requirements before the 31 March 2018 deadline yet were disqualified and subsequently also blocked from accessing the online portal. Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa, this week said they will assist such agents. “Please lodge your query with the EAAB and email Fiona with the information, reference numbers and supporting documentation in order for her to assist you,” he said.

Le Roux added that following a meeting with the EAAB, they were assured that 11 administrators have been employed on a full-time basis to reinstate agents once they have followed the correct steps and paid the penalties due.

The correct steps involve accessing the Online Query Management System on the EAAB’s website. Then select “Section 27/CPD disqualification” from the dropdown menu that will appear on the OQMS and then type in your query, for example, “I wish to find out how to remediate my CPD non-compliance for the 2015 to 2017 CPD cycle”. When you have typed in the query send it to the EAAB, says Le Roux.

A CPD disqualifications administrator should contact you next to advise you how to lodge your remediation application. Any questions and queries that you might have in this regard should be submitted to the Disqualifications Department in the same way.

Important – FFC renewal

Le Roux reminds agents who are disqualified to still renew and pay for their 2019 fidelity fund certificate (FFC) before the deadline date of 31 October 2018. “Do not wait for your CPD queries to be resolved before renewing your FFC as failure to renew timeously will result in further penalties and delays,” he says. Note: it is important to use your EAAB 7 digit number as reference when paying for your FFC as failure to quote the correct reference will result in your payment being unallocated, which will result in further delays.

Do keep us in the loop on what issues affect you. Send an email to editor@propertyprofessional.co.za.