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A heartfelt apology might have cut it, denial does not

MAIN IMAGE: Mamodupi Mohlala, CEO of the EAAB; Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa.

The CEO of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) says the regulator did an excellent job with the 2020 FFCs and has refuted any claims that she failed to deliver on her promise to issue FFCs by 20 December 2019 to all legally compliant estate agents who paid their fees on time – fact is, hundreds of agents are still without certificates.

Last Friday Property Professional received a statement from the EAAB’s CEO Mamodupi Mohlala. She begins by stating that “the EAAB would like to place the following on record with regards to your article published on on 16 January 2020 headlined “EAAB disappoints”.

Mohlala then continues to say that she refutes “in the strongest terms” allegations that “the EAAB reneged on its promise to issue FFCs to all legally compliant estate agents who paid their fees on time” and “the impression that the FFC process is in tatters”.

She then sets out the process followed by the EAAB to issue this year’s FFCs. According to Mohlala by 31 October, the final date to renew FFCs for 2020, the EAAB had received 29 727 applications from estate agents who were fully compliant and paid their fees.  She says all of these applications were processed and issued by 20 December 2019. In total the EAAB had issued 30 483 FFCs by end of business on 20 December when the EAAB offices closed but a skeleton staff remained to attend to outstanding FFCs Mohlala says.

She adds that the list of outstanding FFCs sent by Rebosa on 10 December was also cleared by 20 December and says that Rebosa sent another list on 15 January with 740 outstanding FFC queries. According to Mohlala this second list had several duplications as some of the agents on the list had contacted the EAAB separately.

Mohlala acknowledges that there had been delays in issuing some FFCs but says that was due to the following reasons: late renewals and payments, estate agents paying the wrong amounts and some submitting incorrect details. There are also cases of deregistered or blocked agents.

According to Mohlala the EAAB had done an excellent job with the issuing of FFCs. “We again confirm we have done an excellent job by issuing 33 165 FFCs timeously and thus ensured continued economic activity of our estate agents,” says Mohlala.

She concludes by saying by COB on 16 January 2020 a total of 33 165 FFCs had been issued and made available on the EAAB portal for downloading and printing.

“No estate agent who is fully compliant and has paid all due monies will be denied an FFC. The EAAB reiterates its commitment to the industry to deal with all FFC related issues as a matter of urgency,” Mohlala ends her statement.

In response Property Professional brought under the CEO’s attention that many agents in response to the same article had indicated that they had paid timeously but were still awaiting their FFCs. Jan le Roux, chief executive of Rebosa, was also asked for his comment on the matter. He responded that hundreds, if not thousands, of compliant estate agents are still without certificates and that many received their FFCs later than 20 December.

Here follows his response as received yesterday afternoon:

Mission accomplished has now moved to “we have done an exceptional job”!

I so wish Ms Mohlala did not issue this statement as it leaves me no choice but to comment.

If one was to take the response of the EAAB at face value, you would conclude that all was well and that Rebosa’s initiatives to ensure that agents receive their 2020 FFC’s timeously were and are unnecessary.

Much is made of the number of certificates issued, complaints, duplications, extra capacity, agents erring in applying/paying and what not.

The number of unissued certificates and agents left in the lurch is downplayed. The real issues are buried in the detail.

No degree of obfuscation can hide the facts:

  • Hundreds, if not thousands, of compliant agents are still without certificates and many more received theirs later in January and not as promised by 20 December last year.
  • Many agencies had their certificates cancelled erroneously due to supposed outstanding audit reports, sometimes iro years prior to the establishment of those agencies.
  • Many issued certificates were issued incorrectly iro firm names, agents’ and principals’ designations.
  • In many instances payments were not allocated and certificates not issued.
  • Some FFC’s reported issued appear not to have been issued at all and often certificates issued could not be downloaded.
  • FFC’s were not issued to many due to supposed non-compliance with CPD requirements.

By 31 March last year 51 430 certificates were issued, the EAAB now proudly announces the issue of 33 165 by 17 January – a difference of more than 18,000. Of course, more can register before 31 March, but such a discrepancy undoubtedly underlines the fact that many certificates still have not been issued.

Rebosa is still receiving complaints daily and has an outstanding query list of hundreds. It must also be considered that not all agents lodge their queries with Rebosa. In fact, some EAAB officials in confidence admitted that many certificates have not been issued timeously (Incidentally, sometime last year the EAAB acknowledged having 80 000 queries logged … from the holders of 51 000 FFCs.)

The “no estate agent who is fully compliant and has paid all due monies WILL (Le Roux’s emphasis) be denied an FFC” in Ms Mohlala’s statement is telling in that it is an admittance, rightly so, that the issuing of certificates to the compliant agents is a work in progress, even this late.

No apology is offered to thousands who had to wait well into the new year for a licence to trade and to those who are still waiting for their FFCs (and possibly forfeiting indeterminable amounts in commission).

No apology is offered for the inconceivable lack of response in many cases and the vast number of errors made.

The claim “we have done an exceptional job” is not based on fact. One is tempted to find it outrageous. It is not a feat or achievement to issue 33 165 certificates by 17 January (instead of 31 December). It is a disgrace to leave even one agent without the right to earn a living for any period of time, never mind doing that to thousands.

This would be like a father, with the ways and means to feed all five of his children, who feeds only three or four and leaves the other starving yet boasts about being an exemplary parent!

The issuing of FFCs to compliant applicants is possibly the most standard, repetitious task of the EAAB, and the most important.

It remains astounding that a body like the EAAB, having issued certificates annually for more than 40 years can still not get it right – especially keeping in mind its revenue of R220 million last year.

The EAAB has underperformed in its most important, basic regulatory obligation and even if excuses/apologies were to be offered, it would be hard to condone. It might have been acceptable in year one, not in year 43 and not with such a budget.

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