‘This is disdain and it spells double standards’

‘This is disdain and it spells double standards’

MAIN IMAGE: Stephen Logan, CEO of PrivySeal; Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa.

In a surprising about-turn the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) issued a statement this week advising industry that their contract for a digital verification system with PrivySeal was not to be renewed – a move that Jan le Roux, CE of industry body Rebosa condemned as having double standards and showing disdain for the industry.

What happened before

On 31 August the external service provider PrivySeal informed agents that their seals would no longer display to show consumers that they are registered as estate agents with the EAAB.

PrivySeal informed agents that their contract with the EAAB is suspended on 31 August 2019.

The EAAB introduced the PrivySeal system in 2016 and has since then paid PrivySeal for all registered estate agents and registered estate agencies to be provided with digital Privyseals and certificates, as evidence that they are compliant with EAAB requirements.

It has since come to light that:

  • This contract expired on 13 March this year and that PrivySeal had engaged with the EAAB about the renewal of the contract for months before it was due to expire.
  • Also, that EAAB officials had communicated to Stephen Logan, CEO of PrivySeal, that the EAAB EXCO had formally approved the renewal of the contract in March, without any conditions.
  • In the following months Logan says they repeatedly wrote to the CEO and EXCO of the EAAB to renew the service level agreement. “We would not have continued to provide our service without payment for over five months had the EAAB not repeatedly informed us that the contract had been renewed,” he adds.
  • Finally, that PrivySeal gave the EAAB written notice that their services would be terminated unless a monthly service agreement was entered into and outstanding fees paid by 31 August.

On 3 September the EAAB issued a statement informing agents that they will not be renewing their contract with PrivySeal, but that they are initialising a process of open procurement. Mention is made that an inappropriate process was followed with the PrivySeal contract.

On 3 September the EAAB informed agents that the PrivySeal contract will not be renewed.

In reaction to the latter, Logan, says there was no tender process when PrivySeal was first appointed as service provider as they are the sole provider and patent holder for the digital verification system. “We hold a registered patent and are the sole provider but we will respond to any tender request,” ends Logan.

Over 21,200 agents have adhered to the instruction from the EAAB and the Multi Stakeholder Group to make use of their Privyseals in their emails, websites, property portals and other media to evidence their registration and ongoing compliance.

The EAAB ends their statement by reminding estate agents that their annually renewable Fidelity Fund Certificate remains the most important tool to verify whether an agent is practicing legally. Consumers are urged to ask for this certificate and told they can verify the status of an agent on the website of the EAAB.

Statement by Rebosa

Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa, issued the following statement with stringent criticism on the way the PrivySeal matter was being handled by the EAAB:

This is nothing less than disrespect for the industry. PrivySeal had already announced termination of the service over the weekend and it begs the question why the EAAB could not have made this announcement to industry in good time instead of handling it in this reactive unprofessional manner.

Reference is made of a procurement process that wasn’t followed before and which will now have to be followed – no argument with that. What would have been better, though, would’ve been to institute a procurement process before the current agreement lapsed. That could’ve resulted in a smooth transition especially since it is at least possible in theory that the same company may have been awarded the contract yet again. At the very least it would have removed the element of surprise and shock.

One has to keep in mind that it was the EAAB that forced this on industry years ago only to allow it to lapse without notice. At the time the EAAB also promised to promote the concept to the consumers, so as to make it effective. Needless to say this never happened. Nor is any mention made in the EAAB release of such a campaign. Even if the contact is awarded again to whoever, it will be a failure without it being marketed.

More importantly, everyone is advised that consumers can check the status of estate agents on the EAAB portal (to which one should add “when it works”) but fails to mention how consumers are supposed to know about this as this too has not been marketed. Nor is there any acknowledgement of the fact that such a search would only be successful if the consumer happens to know the full names, and I mean ALL the names, of the agent in question and getting the spelling 100% correct, failing which no results will be forthcoming and the agent will appear not to be registered. The search facility is totally inadequate and the EAAB is well aware of this fact and even promised to have same addressed.

We often experience that serious issues are purported to be addressed by superficial and inadequate measures. It makes no sense to create the impression of consumer protection whilst knowing full well that it does not work.

I call it disrespect because a consultative body that represents the entire industry, The Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) was created five years ago at the insistence of Rebosa. This body met in June of this year during which meeting no mention was made of PrivySeal. The only possible deductions are that either the EAAB did not want to consult/advise the MSG (which would refute the object thereof) or that the EAAB was caught by surprise by the turn of events and therefore only now wants to start a procurement process. Both alternatives are ominous.

I refer to double standards because the utmost professionalism is required of the estate agents by the EAAB. Yet, the EAAB fails to meet the same standard.

Rebosa had requested prior to these events that a meeting of the MSG be called and has earlier this week added PrivySeal to the agenda. We will proceed with our best efforts to engage with the EAAB for the betterment of the industry.

End.

Share your comments on the above with editor@propertyprofessional.co.za.

Showing 16 comments
  • Marlene
    Reply

    Somebody needs to take the EAAB to task. I am tired of being”intimidated “ yearly with all the processes that place. E.G
    1. Company self assessments
    2. Annual audits
    3. Cpd points
    The list goes on and we are told our company ffc’ s will be cancelled if we do not submit by certain dates..
    Then on a Sunday evening I get a rather horrid shock by receiving an e mail in big red letters saying my Privyseal is cancelled!!!! I am sorry I have no good words left.
    Can any organization out there at s up and take these jokers to task.
    I seriously don’t feel like renewing my 2020 ffc’s but we all know that will not entitle me to commission (Which the Attorneys don’t even ask for)
    It seems easier to do business without ffc’s because the EAAB only worry about the paying agents and turn a blind eye on illegal operators.

    As if we don’t have enough to deal with !!!😡😡😡😡🤯🤯🤯🤬🤬🤬

  • Marlene
    Reply

    Sorry about spelling but I am furious

  • Leone Suckling
    Reply

    This is yet another example of lack of real commitment to the industry and the indifference of the eaab which is just a money making institution and of not benefit to the agents or the public at all

  • Loren
    Reply

    Wow, I did not get such an email, quite the opposite in fact.

  • Warwick Heny
    Reply

    THE EAAB NEED TO GET ITS HOUSE IN ORDER !!! YEARS AND YEARS OF POOR HANDLING OF ALL THINGS REAL ESTATE !!! SELF REGULATION WOULD BE CHEAPER, EASIER AND BETTER !!!

  • John Wilson
    Reply

    I believe REBOSA must be relentless in holding the EAAB accountable for the poor management of the process, and there should be consequences

  • John Fuller
    Reply

    My Privy Seal has disappeared! Am I concerned? No! It’s very rare that I ever see it on other Agents’ Emails, there has not been an awareness programme to consumers as promised, and why should one in any event need duplicate evidence of one’s qualification? It was completely unnecessary to have introduced Privy Seal in the first place. The EAAB should rather spend the funds and their energy on eliminating illegal non-compliant rental and sales agents. If this aspect was tackled, the industry would have a reduced number of Agents, but be much more sustainable, and able to seriously address the costs required to ensure faster transformation in real estate.

    • Donovan
      Reply

      and why would they do that. Less agents = lower collection revenue. Its all about the money!

  • Donovan
    Reply

    I think estate agents should withhold FFC fees for 2020. The EAAB does nothing for the industry it represents. They merely collect their dues and sit around thinking up new ways to collect revenue for the overpaid and under-performing employees.

  • Charles Haigh
    Reply

    I think the industry at large roll their eyes at the mere mention of the EAAB, so we are not surprised that they firstly did not procure the initial contract following any corporate governance guidelines by admission and secondly they are conflicted on who they actually represent in the industry. Unbeknownst to many is that the EAAB is also the professional body for the industry which means that they are supposed to assist members retain their professional status with training, updates on regulations, continuous professional development etc. As a layman its obvious to see that a regulatory body that supposed to look after the interest of the consumer would struggle to maintain an unbiased policy of equity and fair practice if they represent both parties. Collection of R2000 per agent annually for now online CPD training would be a compelling reason for the EAAB to vie for this space. How could they possibly manage this responsibility to industry when its apparent that they fall shockingly short of performing their duties as a regulatory body, is it perhaps that the board comprise of members of the “call a friend” board club? EAAB, kindly relinquish your professional body status to the industry, let the likes of a joint board comprising of REBOSA, IEASA, NAMA, SAPOA etc manage the professionalism aspect of our industry.

  • Johan Meyer
    Reply

    I find it interesting that they suddenly now comment that they need to follow a procurement process.. So why did the EAAB not start the process before the current agreement with Privy Seal expired or have they suddenly decide it is no longer important. Why was it then so important a year ago when we were told in no uncertain terms to have Privy Seal on all our e-mails. Oh boy what a mess we find our Governing Body in .

  • Remo
    Reply

    The EAAB is yet another government institution that is a huge failure and which is run by highly overpaid incompetents who are in protected employment and who would not be employable in the private sector, just like the rest of government!

  • Giulio Marsella
    Reply

    In relation to the PrivySeal functionality and purpose, I believe this is a huge step forward in rooting out non compliant agents in an industry that has not been able to ever get this right. The implementation of the PrivySeal was a really positive step in the right direction and has the potential to solve many problems related to the professionalism of the industry. On the other hand, the EAAB has again shown how to allow corruption and bad governance in making decisions. They have an attitude that they are a law unto their own and are unable to move forward in an age where transparency should be of utmost importance.

  • Victor
    Reply

    The EAAB now demands a showdown with SAQA which is the Governing Body regulating the PROFESSIONAL BODY STATUS.

    I fully agree with all the comments the EAAB IS THE MILKING COW and EVENTUALLY THEY WILL DRIVE THIS ONE TIME BILLION RAND INDUSTRY to the GROUND.

    Come on let’s BRING A CLASS ACTION to win our case with the EAAB.

    Everyone contributes into an ATTORNEYS TRUST ACCOUNT that is willing to charge a minimum account for disbursements and take the EAAB to the cleaners.

    ENOUGH is ENOUGH EAAB !!!

  • Magda Saunders
    Reply

    We are trapped by the EAAB, they make the rules to break them immediately. Agents are insulted and have to go through hell to comply with the rules. I registered and paid for CPD but was told I have no access because I haven’t paid. Now, the PDP plan that I registered for is nowhere to be seen and I can’t continue with e-learning as there are no options to complete.

  • Agent
    Reply

    Charles Haigh, a very intersting comment. The EAAB regulate the compliance of registration as well as education. But we have received in writing that they in fact do not enforce the regulations. Any institute that is in a position of education and the final results of exams, and who have authority to withhold the answer papers written by their candidates, are not also regulatory authorities. This is a conflict of interest. There must be a union formed to represent agents when it comes to unfair and disciminatory action by the EAAB. Many agents have come forward with their stories of incompetence and double standards of compliance requirements and failing to uphold a level that can be aspired to by agents, on the part of the EAAB. Their audit has also raised suspicion. We have needed this for quite some time and the bodies we have now have only been talking and not doing much for the agents. It’s time for the EAAB to take responsibility and face the same consequences they enforce on agents for misconduct; whilst they are guilty of misconduct on a continuous basis.

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