No FFC after 6 months of emails and calls

MAIN IMAGE: The notice on the homepage of the EAAB about unresolved FFCs.

For six months intern estate agent Seth Stephens queried the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) repeatedly about progress with his FFC application. Their last response was the final straw … now he wants to warn others who are thinking of becoming property practitioners.

On 13 August 2019 Seth Stephens, a former air traffic controller in his 50’s, completed the EAAB’s online application for an intern estate agent and made an application for an intern fidelity fund certificate. On the same date he also paid the stipulated fee of R583.

Then his troubles began.

After 20 working days he sent an online query and received an automated response confirming receipt – the first of many such responses to numerous queries. Stephens also tried phoning the regulator’s office but (after waiting long durations or being transferred to numbers that don’t answer) was always instructed to resubmit his application including proof of payment.

Six months later in February this year the EAAB informed his agency that they confirm receipt of payment but told them the problem lies with Stephen’s registration number which they said should have been entered without his initial and surname.

The EAAB requested Stephens to submit a letter stating that a mistake had been made in his payment reference – even though this same reference number had been used by both the EAAB and Stephens numerously over the last six months.

This communication followed after the statement by the EAAB’s CEO Mamodupi Mohlala that all FFCs, that had been applied for timeously by 31 October 2019, had been issued by 20 December.

Also read: EAAB disappoints

The last request from the EAAB was too much. On 5 February 2020 Stephens resigned as intern estate agent. He explains why:

“So what I am now being told is, although the EAAB received my proof of payment with my application and that they acknowledged a number of online queries by automated email, and also responded to my telephone queries by repeatedly informing me to upload copies of documents already previously uploaded, that I must now acknowledge that the reference used on the proof of payment was a mistake on my part because it included the addition of my initial and name with the correct reference number, and I must now again do the rounds of acquiring a new certified copy of my ID (2020 dated), upload a “new” letter of affiliation with my agency (dated 2020), and I must also make reference to “today’s” conversation between the agency and the EAAB with the EAAB Reference Number (dated 2020).

“Is this truly the actions of an upstanding, transparent, helpful, guiding, profession-enhancing regulating body that leads and carries integrity? I do not believe the EAAB is any of these. What I have experienced in the long six months of my dealings with the EAAB is a regulator that makes no effort to support new applications (is this selective?), a regulator that is incapable of meeting its own prescribed deadlines, a regulator that is overly bureaucratic, and one that is incapable of adequate or timely communications.

“I believe that my dealings with the EAAB both by email (they just do not respond), and by telephone (lack support) have clearly shown this EAAB staff to be inept and very unhelpful and that it shows the organization to be both leadership and management challenged. This latest requirement to now resubmit all documents with 2020 dates smacks of a cover-up of such inadequacies. I must now also believe that any efforts made by me to continue in the property practitioner profession would only result in ongoing vindictiveness towards me on the part of the EAAB.”

Back in August last year and having looked through the regulations pertaining to Property Practitioners (both past and newly proposed),

Stephens says back in August last year, having looked through the regulations pertaining to property practitioners (both current and newly proposed), he honestly thought that going whole-heartedly into the property practitioner profession and ensuring full compliance with all rules and regulations would be rewarding and worthwhile.

“I was clearly very, very wrong about these thoughts, and I am now of the firm belief that the entire business of estate agencies, estate agents and property practitioners is at best always treading close to being unethical.”

Stephens says numerous agents suggested to him during the past six months to just get on with doing the job without waiting for the FFC. Although tempting under the circumstances, he says he decided each time to rather make another query to the EAAB for his FFC. It does make him wonder how many agencies have agents that are working without the required FFC.

The past six months has been a wasteful and costly experience as he was unable to earn any income in the property profession. Stephens says he believes he must warn prospective agents thinking of joining the property practitioner profession about the shortcomings and communicate his experience openly to any and every ear that will listen.

Continuing efforts made to resolve outstanding FFCs

The EAAB in a statement on their homepage says they are currently resolving all outstanding FFC-related queries. All FFC-queries must be sent via email to ffc.complaints@eaab.org.za. With regards to Stephen’s case, he has apparently now been issued with an FFC. This is according to an email from Chandre Prins of the office of EAAB CEO Mamodupi Mohlala. Prins says Stephens has been issued with a valid FFC which is available on the EAAB portal. “We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” she ends.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of agents that have had the same experience as Seth Stephens – the FFC renewal or application was paid timeously but, despite repeated queries and calls to the EAAB, come 2020 no FFC had been issued with little or no feedback on the current progress to resolve the matter. Rebosa is continuing to assist many of these agents. To request their assistance with your 2020 FFC, send a query to the EAAB on the email address above and then complete the form on Rebosa’s website (important to include your EAAB reference number).

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