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DHS mute on possible intervention with regulator

Failing IT systems, a dismal track record with feedback on queries, long waiting periods to issue FFC’s and now failure to complete their annual financial report on time – the property industry’s regulator appears in serious need of intervention, but will it happen?

Many estate agents applauded the news last week that the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements made a clear recommendation to the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) to take over the administration of their entity, the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), the regulating body of the property industry.

However, the portfolio committee only has an overseeing role and can only advise the department. The final word lies with DHS whether the EAAB will be placed under administration and according to Bongani Mlangeni, spokesperson for the EAAB, they have had no communication from the DHS about being under administration.

“As things stand the EAAB is not under administration and any other thing is just pure speculation. The Board continue to discharge its mandate as it has always done,” Mlangeni said.

By the time of going to press DHS had not responded to queries on this matter.

The EAAB had failed to meet the deadline to table their annual report with financial statements for 2017/18 before parliament in September. Portfolio committee chairperson MP Nocawe Mafu said at a public briefing last week the committee had to accept the fact that the EAAB is on a downward slope and that it has been painful to hear what estate agents had to say about the entity during recent roadshows on the new Property Practitioners Bill. She said the DHS should place the regulator under administration “finish and klaar”.

Read more on what the committee said here

Regarding the reasons why their annual financial report is outstanding, Mlangeni said the process to appoint new auditors had caused some delays causing them to miss the deadline for submission of the report. Added Mlangeni: “In addition, a much more vigorous audit process was undertaken following the findings of the last financial year.” He said the report is currently being finalised.

That the regulating body of the property industry was in trouble didn’t come as a surprise. In June it was reported in the mainstream media that the UDM’s Bantu Holomisa had made a written request to the Public Protector to investigate allegations of maladministration and corruption at the EAAB.

It was also reported that the National Treasury had raised concerns about the financial management at the EAAB to the Department of Human Settlements. Read more here

Industry body Rebosa has been in constant interaction with the regulator to improve service delivery and deal annually with thousands of complaints from irate estate agents about the EAAB. Jan le Roux, chief executive of Rebosa, had this to say about the EAAB’s failure to present an annual report to parliament and consequently also before the portfolio committee:

“The EAAB has a budget of around R130 million a year and yet don’t have the right IT system in place nor qualified/dedicated people to operate same properly to achieve the necessary results. It is really sad that an organisation of such long standing and so well-funded at this point in time seem incapable of coping with the most basic requirement of servicing/regulating the industry.

“The board’s IT systems are failing, and data often is corrupted. System crashes are regular and yet government thinks it wise to expand the definition of property practitioners to bring thousands more under the ambit/control of the EAAB. The current failure to do even a financial report just further proves that the EAAB should not be given further responsibilities but should rather be focused on regulating the real estate industry as we know it, i.e. estate agents only.”

This is what some of you had to say on the issue:

Stefan Maree: “I agree 100% with the portfolio committee remarks. At least someone is starting to listen to estate agents. We made submissions on the new Proposed Property Practitioners Bill. And then they wish to widen the scope of the new bill to include more professions?”

Gill Linden: “Yes the EAAB need a wake-up call. They are just a money grabbing entity. One can never get any feedback from them and the wait for your FFC Certificate is ridiculous. They are quick to impose fines if an agent pays late but if you pay early you still don’t get your FFC for months.”

Mpho Monnakgotla: “It’s about time realtors and all stakeholders engage to discuss issues and problems within the industry and the EAAB.”

Kagiso Hume: “The EAAB’s main concern seems to regulate only black estate agents whereas they are doing nothing to clean up their house.”

Susan Pretorius: “From recent real time case studies on state-owned enterprises, we should learn the following; “rather be pro-active than to again apologise to the public”. To act when it is too late does not favour the entity nor the public that it is supposed to serve and protect. Public money and interests are at stake, if the EAAB is in non-compliance on governance issues, please act on it before it is completely dysfunctional.”

Anita Stander: “The best news ever!!! The EAAB is a total mockery of the property industry. One is not even able to speak to someone at the end of a telephone line. Disputes are impossible to resolve. They demand outrageous FFC and CPD registration fees each year and are totally unable to offer a service in return.”

Bert Neethling: “Wonderful news. The EAAB has now failed themselves after failing the industry for all these years.”

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