New Bill: ‘You can still make a difference’

New Bill: ‘You can still make a difference’

MAIN IMAGE: Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa.

With the final round of public hearings on the Property Practitioners Bill now in full swing around the country, Jan le Roux, CE of industry body Rebosa, explains why it is important for estate agents to attend and comment.

“Fellow estate agents, you can still make a difference,” Le Roux begins a public address he published this week to the Rebosa website

Starting this week, public hearings on the Bill are being held in all the provinces for the month of February. This presents an opportunity for all those affected by the bill to make their comments heard.

“It is important to attend and address concerns personally – submitting written comment is not nearly as effective,” Le Roux says.

He continues that the property industry has a final opportunity to provide comments on the Property Practitioners Bill before it is considered by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), where after it will go to the President for signing.

Find a list of the dates, times and venues that’s currently known at the end of this article. Le Roux promised Rebosa will update agents on the dates, times and venues as they are alerted to them.

A current version of the Bill is available on Rebosa’s website

Important issues in the Bill

The following is a summary of important issues in the current draft of the Property Practitioners Bill that Le Roux fears will not serve the industry well. Here follows his explanation as to why:

Prohibition on rendering services without an FFC (Section 48: 1)

This is the biggest single detrimental issue in the Bill. In terms of this section an entire business and all the agents employed in the business can be de-registered because of an omission/act of one of the directors of the business. The equivalent of this is the Authority not being able to function if one board member commits fraud.

The clause should be amended to read that the business can continue functioning and the business and its estate agents can remain registered provided there is at least one qualified and properly registered principal/director in the business.

Definition of a business property practitioner (Section 1 (Definitions))

It is important to define a “business property practitioner” because only business practitioners for example must/could have trust accounts. Should this not be corrected it would for example imply that each individual must have a trust account/ BEE certificate.

Developers: the current definition excludes developers because they are selling their own properties. Developers however sell those properties to consumers and employ individuals to do so. Currently neither the developers nor the individuals they employ have to comply with the Act and do not have the necessary training. In terms of the Bill they are also therefore not covered by the Fidelity Fund.

Attorneys: As per the current Act attorneys and candidate attorneys are still excluded. There is no motivation for this and attorneys are, like developers, employing more and more sales associates without the necessary training (albeit they are covered by the attorneys’ Fidelity Fund). Because attorneys are primarily interested in obtaining conveyancing work, they unfairly compete with estate agents as far as commission, etc. is concerned. The study curriculum for agents involve much more than just law. Attorneys at best should be exempted from NQF 4 & 5 but should comply with everything else in terms of the Act. The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) has admitted not being able to control attorneys operating illegally at present therefore this is of extreme importance.

Trust accounts (Section 23)

The current amendment to the Bill will still result in 5,000 dormant trust accounts. Many estate agents focus on selling only and don’t do letting. Furthermore, according to Rebosa’s records more than 70% of estate agents to not use their trust accounts and have to operate dormant trust accounts and pay dearly to have same audited. The exemption in the Bill in respect of practitioners with a turnover of less than R2,5 million pa tries to address this – inadequately so as it still leaves thousands of dormant trust accounts.

It is a better solution to allow estate agents who want to/need to receive deposits from clients to have trust accounts and have same properly audited, but to allow estate agents not wanting to do so, not to have trust accounts at all. These agents will, as they currently do, request clients to make deposits to the trust accounts of conveyancers.

Using the turnover (keep in mind that it refers to gross commission not sales) is not an indication of the size of the deposit that might be made (an estate agent with a turnover of less than R2,5 million per annum may well be selling one property of R49 million and/or take a deposit equal to R49 million). Should the rand value be the indicator it would be better to limit the quantum of deposit rather than turnover of business. There is no reason why all estate agents should have trust accounts.

Supervision of candidate property practitioners (Section 64 (3))

It is obviously unfair to hold a principal responsible for acts or omissions of the candidate property practitioner even if the principal is unaware of same. The employment of 22,000 candidates are threatened by this.

Fidelity Fund Certificates (Section 46)

Allowing property practitioners to register every three years is a step in the right direction but it remains unnecessary to re-register at all. They should be allowed to register once and be compelled (as they are) to keep their data up to date at the Authority. Property Practitioners can, under such circumstances, be invoiced yearly for their yearly fees as they are currently invoiced for Continuing Professional Development courses – the system is in place. This will further alleviate bottlenecks and administration at the authority.

Issuing of Fidelity Fund certificates under certain circumstances (Sections 47, 48 and 56): Sections 47 and 48 address the “issuing” of Fidelity Fund certificates under certain circumstances. Section 56 (1) however negates entitlement to commission in the absence of “possession” of a Fidelity Fund certificate. Certificates often don’t get to practitioners timeously if at all.

“Please attend these hearings and be heard,” concludes Le Roux.

The Select Committee on Social Services also invited interested parties to submit written comments on the Bill by no later than 12:00 on Friday 15 February. Enquiries, as well as written submissions, can be directed to: Ms Marcelle Williams, Select Committee on Social Services, Parliament of RSA, P.O. Box 15, Cape Town 8000 or e-mailed to: mawilliams@parliament.gov.za, tel. 021 403 3799 and cell: 083 709 8451.

Schedule for public hearings on Property Practitioners Bill

(take note meetings held prior to 14 Feb not included)

Province Provincial Liaison Officer
Eastern Cape

Monday 18 Feb Gelvandale Community Hall, Port Elizabeth 10:00
Monday 18 Feb Old Council Hall, East London 10:00

 

Stella Mhlana

NCOP Liaison Officer

021 424 1981/ 082 448 1160

smhlana@parliament.gov.za

Free State

Friday 15 Feb Springfontein Town Hall, Springfontein (time to be confirmed)

Marette Basson

NCOP Liaison Officer

021 424 1291/ 082 646 3677

maretteb@fsl.gov.za

Gauteng

Saturday 16 Feb Germiston City Hall 10:00
Tuesday 19 Feb Jhb City Hall 10:00
Saturday 23 Feb Centurion Town Council Building, Lyttelton, Centurion 10:00

Joslyn Moeti

NCOP Liaison Officer

021 424 1427 /079 522 8590

jmoeti@gpl.gov.za

KwaZulu Natal

Waiting for confirmation on whether there will be meetings in Durban and Newcastle

Erwinn Jansen

NCOP Liaison Officer

021 424 1054 / 073 381 3370

jansene@kznleg.gov.za

Limpopo Mpho Seabela

NCOP Liaison Officer

021 424 1008 / 082 374 0774

Mpumalanga Patience Mbalo

NCOP Liaison Officer

0214243970 / 0829795954

pmbalo@parliament.gov.za

pmbalo@mpuleg.gov.za

Northwest Nomvuso Dano

021 424 422 (0852)/079 879 1413

ndano@parliament.gov.za

Northern Cape Khanita Abrahams

021 424 1043 /082 564 3588

kabrahams@parliament.gov.za

Western Cape Ncediswa Mayambela
NCOP Liaison Officer021 487 1826

nmayambela@wcpp.gov.za

Comments
  • Magda Saunders
    Reply

    I must post this matter as it’s becoming a total nighmare to get a FFC from the eaab.
    I have applied for change of FFC at the company I work as an agent and nothing has been done.

    To my utter surprise I have now receiebd mails from the eaab informing me that I’m in credit with them and I can clearly see that part of the credit is for the change of the FFC.

    This is not the end of the saga.

    Today I receieved a mail again from a Gys Grieshaber informing me that there is another amount owing to me from the eaab.

    Now, who this Gys is I don’t know and he requested that the money be paid over into his account.

    Of all things, the eaab are not using my email address as recorded with them for the past 14 years but using the agency address where I previously worked as an agent.

    I really don;t know what;s going on.

    Sending mails to the eaab comes back to me and warns me that it might be an address not to visit at all.

    Your comment please.

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