Opinion: Lighting a candle against illegal estate agents
Frustration with the continuance of estate agents trading without licence prompted Andile Ben-Mazwi of RE/MAX ABM Properties on Friday 14 April to write an open letter, titled “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness” to real estate practitioners and stakeholders.
Herewith the letter:
Colleagues, today I wish to address you about a thorn in the flesh of our prestigious profession, which if not boldly addressed and swiftly eradicated, might eventually sink our profession and plunge it into irreversible lawlessness.
Colleagues I am referring to the issue of estate agents that blissfully trade without a licence, and continue doing so with reckless abandon and alarming impunity. This issue is dangerously becoming an elephant in the room in that licenced estate agents and the Board know fully that its presence looms large in the affairs of our profession, yet we don’t seem to be doing anything decisively about it.
I constantly and conscientiously ask myself the following questions about this issue;
Am I not an accomplice to a crime when I become aware of its (daily) commission, yet I do nothing about it?
Is the supremacy of our country’s constitution and the rule of law not one of the founding values of our democratic order?
Is it really worth to celebrate my being 30 years now in this industry and profession, rigorously applying myself to it, rigorously observing its law, code of conduct and discipline, as well as ensuring that a Fidelity Fund Certificate is my constant companion, year in and year out, as well as religiously ensuring that levies to the Board are paid, year in and year out. Yet a parallel situation of illegality incomprehensibly co-exists with my and our blood, sweat and tears legality. Is this dangerous dichotomy really happening in our name?
Let us admit that we, licenced estate agents, the Board and the Police are jointly and separetely responsible for the continuation of this indefensible and unpardonable state of affairs in our unconscionable failure/neglect/refusal to act in enforcing our profession’s law and our country’s criminal law.
However, it is not too late as it is never too late in life to do self-introspection, take a decision and to act unswervingly on it. Also, a centuries old Chinese Proverb is appropriately instructive about doing something, however small, instead of complaining loudly, it goes as follows “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”.
Colleagues, I have been given some legal advice on how we can light this candle in forcing the police (as the legal authority) and our Board (as the regulatory authority) to act by first agreeing to investigate complaints and then charging and prosecuting those who practice without licences. The following steps may be taken;
MANDAMUS ACTION: it is an application to the High Court (Civil Action) compelling a legal authority (Police) and/or a Regulatory Authority (Board) to perform their statutory duties of laying criminal charges and instituting criminal prosecutions against those who trade outside the law.
REVIEW ACTION: it is an application to the High Court (Civil Action) to review action or inaction by a legal authority that falls short of either lawfulness, reasonableness or procedural fairness.
DECLARATORY ACTION: also an application to seek an order that declares that legal authorities and regulatory authorities must act when presented with complaints and press on with appropriate legal action.
If deemed necessary we could invite a legal person to fully outline and elaborate on the above legal steps and thereafter we could decide to approach our national office of REBOSA to take appropriate legal action on this matter to root out these illegal estate agents who are flagrantly bringing disrepute to our honourable profession.
In conclusion, let us, shoulder to shoulder, shape up our profession, not only for ourselves but for future generations or let it degenerate to the point of an indistinct identity and laughable profession/occupation. Not in our name should the latter option happen, as we can and should, light the candle of preliminary action now.
Comment from EAAB and Rebosa to follow in follow-up article in Thurday’s newsletter. You are welcome to email your comment to email@example.com by end of Tuesday.
IMAGE SOURCE: anbuadvocateassociates.com