EAAB to close doors till spring?

EAAB to close doors till spring?

MAIN IMAGE: Mamodupi Mohlala, CEO EAAB, says a final decision will be made today if the regulator’s offices will be closed until 1 September.

Seven days. That is the amount of days the Sandton office of the Estate Agency Affairs Board were open for business in the three months since lockdown restrictions were relaxed. Now their doors are closed again and the board must decide on a proposal to reopen again only on 1 September. This contradicts an earlier notification that the office will only reopen on 1 September (*see below).

Many estate agents expressed outrage and incredulity about the weekend’s media statement by CEO Mamodupi Mohlala that all offices of the regulator will remain closed until spring (this statement has since been removed from the EAAB’s website). The announcement on 26 July followed confirmation that seven of their employees had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. To date 13 employees of the EAAB have tested positive for the virus. In response to Property Professional‘s query about the decision to close the office for more than a month, Mamodupi now says they envisioned reopening on 27 July but that the workers union raised concerns and objections about staff health and possible exposure of their families at home. According to her the union then proposed that the EAAB offices remain closed during August when the viral infection is expected to peak. A final decision about the reopening of the offices will be made today (30 July) during a board meeting.

“The EAAB’s priority during this unprecedented pandemic is twofold – ensuring the well-being of its staff and providing continued service delivery to its valued stakeholders. Since the onset of the lockdown, the EAAB provided essential service to its stakeholders by ensuring that key staff is equipped with laptops and date, enabling them to operate remotely,” explains Mamodupi.

The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) closed their offices a week before the official lockdown began on 27 March and only reopened on 1 July with a third of their staff – a full month after the real estate industry reopened for business. The reopening was short lived – on 3 July the offices were immediately evacuated after confirmation that an employee of another entity in the same building had been in contact with someone who had become infected. On 13 July the office reopened with 30% staff capacity only to evacuate and close again four days later when an EAAB employee tested positive for the virus. According to Mamodupi they were adhering to the safety protocols in the regulations of the Disaster Management Act.

“Lazy” “Stop their pay and let them claim UIF” “Beyond ridiculous! It should be no work no pay,” Were among the comments seen this week on social media platforms in reaction to the announcement. There were even calls for estate agents to unite in a boycott of the mandatory registration fees, but industry watch dog Rebosa’s chief executive Jan le Roux cautioned against such drastic action.

“We are doing our level best to communicate with the Minister and the EAAB but strongly advise against a boycott on the payment of CPD and FFC fees. The board has the power to not issue FFC’s in such an instance resulting in agents not earning a commission – a situation where one will be cutting one’s own nose to spite one’s own face. We do understand and share the frustration,” was Le Roux’s response.

The industry has been frustrated with the inefficiency and lack of service delivery of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) for years, but the lockdown has brought the lack of support to estate agents to the fore.

Also read: EAAB CEO says industry must wait a little longer …

Despite the assurance from CEO Mamodupi that their staff continued to work remotely during the lockdown to address queries, registrations and backlog of FFCs, there have been many complaints about emailed queries that go unanswered or remain unresolved. According to Mamodupi all the email addresses have been tested and are functional. There is a response time of 48 hours.

During this time it has also come to light that the EAAB had not renewed the industry’s professional indemnity cover in June last year yet failed to inform the industry of this thereby leaving thousands of estate agents vulnerable to legal claims. In response Mamodupi acknowledged that the cover wasn’t renewed last year and said a statement regarding the fact will be issued – that hasn’t happened to date.

More detail on Covid-19 relief measures for real estate

DHS Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced on 21 July that estate agencies would not face penalties for late audit reports until 31 October and that all fees for mandatory training are waived for 2020. She said the EAAB would explain the details before 31 July.

In response Mamodupi says they are very pleased with the relief measures that the Minister approved. “We believe that these measures will be of great assistance to the industry as we begin to navigate a new challenging path amid the global pandemic and a trying economic period,” says Mamodupi.

EAAB CEO Mamodupi gave the following explanation about the relief measures as well as the Minister’s announcements about the finalisation of the regulations this year to give effect to the new Property Practitioners Act:

Audit report extension

The waiver of penalties for late submission by the estate agencies until 31 October 2020 is confirmed.

No refund for CPD fees

The fees payable for mandatory training (read CPD) will be waived for the current year. There will be no refund for those who already paid their CPD fees, instead their accounts will be credited for the next financial year and they will not be expected to pay again next year.

The EAAB will soon be providing CPD on an electronic platform. An announcement on the details thereof will be communicated to the industry in due course.

Exams

A service provider has been identified to administer the roll-out of the online exam platform.

Finalisation of PPA regulations

The regulator is part of the drafting and consulting team that is led by the Department of Human Settlements. All industry groupings and stakeholders including Rebosa, the National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC) and NPF have also participated in the process. Mamodupi says they welcome the finalisation of the regulations and look forward to the promulgation of the effective date of the Property Practitioners Act. “We are pleased to confirm that the regulations will be fully aligned with the provisions of the Act,” she adds.

PDI exemptions

According to Mamodupi the EAAB is currently working on several transformation programmes. Last week it was announced that the implementation date for the Previously Disadvantaged Individuals resolution (PDI Resolution) has been brought forward to 27 July 2020. The PDI resolution, which was already approved in January 2019, was initially scheduled to commence on 1 April 2020, but was then postponed to 31 August due to the announcement of the national lockdown. Mamodupi said in a statement about the new date it was moved forward due to the call for help from the industry due to the financial struggles experienced as a result of the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the corona virus. She added that the EAAB will communicate further announcements after a board meeting scheduled for 30 July 2020.

Also read: Do black agents matter?

Rebosa response

In response to the Covid Relief Measures announced, Le Roux expressed appreciation for the waiving of late audit report penalty. However, he added with regard to the CPD payments that due to the urgency of the relief requested it would have been better if the EAAB refunded payments or at worst credited the accounts of the agents that had paid already to enable them to use the funds for this year’s renewal applications. “Being relieved of paying for CPD next year is not helping now and this prejudices those who had already paid,“ he says.

*EAAB notification published on 26 July 2020

Media Release

26 July 2020

TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF THE EAAB OFFICES DUE TO COVID-19 UNTIL 01 SEPTEMBER 2020

On 17 July 2020 employees were notified that one of our employees tested positive for the Coronavirus. The tests results were shared with the Employer on the same day.  A decision was then taken that employees evacuate the building as a precautionary measure and to allow for health and safety protocols to be adhered to.

The employer then requested all employees to self-isolate whilst arrangements were made for employees who had been in the building since the re-opening of the offices to get tested at Morningside Lancet Laboratory.  Since 17 July 2020, the EAAB has since facilitated the testing of employees. Of those who went to be tested, 7 employees tested positive for Covid-19.

Initially it was planned for the office to re-open on 27 July 2020, but due to the rapid increase of infections in the country particularly in Gauteng and also the number of confirmed positive cases at the EAAB, Management has reconsidered the 27 July 2020 as the re-opening date. We are undertaking to act responsibly and do our part in preventing further spread of the virus.

A decision has been taken that the EAAB offices close during the cold days in winter when the virus is at its peak, and for employees to work from home.  It is hoped that this will assist in minimizing the spread of the Coronavirus.  Therefore the EAAB Offices will re-open on 01 September 2020.

The EAAB will continue to closely monitor all updates and advice from the relevant authorities, including the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labour. We would like to ensure employees that we will continue to take all necessary precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of our employees and stakeholders.
Key to the workplace readiness is the implementation of Health and Safety controls. Covid-19 regulations dictate that the most effective way to minimise the risk of transmitting the virus is to reduce density, practise good hygiene and social distancing.

Stakeholders are encouraged to continue using electronic means to contact the EAAB (details and email addresses on www.eaab.org.za where possible).

For further Covid-19 related enquires contact: Covid-19 Compliance Officer Mr. Oscar Mangole at oscar.mangole@eaab.org.za.

Showing 14 comments
  • D. Mathieson
    Reply

    No refund for CPD is appalling. They have sat with my money for months, and now now are not doing any training but will not refund us. Is this legal? They are working enough to send me an FFC Renewal notice which I received today. They can take it out of my CPD money!!!! What a cheek.

  • Ian Badenhorst
    Reply

    Due to the lockdown on most industries and particularly the ongoing restrictions which make property sales, rentals and management more challenging and costly in the re-engineering of processes and additional technologies which i8tself does not transform to successful deals as a result of a complete change in attitude to property at this time, I believe there is only one statement to maintain which is all lives matter as well as all estate agents matter.

  • Harry
    Reply

    Thanks REBOSA!

    Operating on a much higher level than the EAAB, they can only learn from your way of communicating with the industry and your concerns for the actual agents on the ground.

    The EAAB couldn’t care less about what problems and frustrations their inefficiencies cause in the daily lives of so many agents.
    ( They are still in denial after all these events the last couple of years)

    Just as a matter of interest I see on social media platforms some private individuals charges fees to get FFC’s etc sorted out with the EAAB in no time at all.

    One can then probably assume that there is a high level of corruption prevalent inside the EAAB itself. Some individuals that pocket extra money privately to do a job that they are getting paid for in full every month in any case whilst working from home.

    Why would they then start to deliver a service now? They are doing well in these times.

    We can only hope for a more efficient and inclusive regulatory body that actually care about estate agents going forward.

    But that is like wishing can change something with a magic wand! It is not going to happen.

    • Vic
      Reply

      Agreed, another useless government department!

  • Debbie Wall-Smith
    Reply

    We have been trying to register a candidate estate agent since February. Unbelievable that they are closed again and cannot even register an agent when the entire process is online. CPD should be credited against FFC renewal. Any company could have rolled out online CPD in days.

  • NATASHA SWANEPOEL
    Reply

    I will most definitely not pay for CPD next year. It will be such a battle to get your money back from EAAB. Another day in paradise.

  • Val Anderton
    Reply

    I paid my CPD fee in February and still waiting for confirmation that my payment has been received.

  • martivanEden
    Reply

    The staff should ADHERE to Covid-19 regulations to:-
    ●STAY HOME
    ●ADHERE TO SOCIAL DISTANCE
    ●WASH YOUR HANDS
    ●WEAR A MASK
    ●AGAIN, STAY HOME, you work from home

    Can’t understand how they can be so regularly Covid-19 positive if they are more CLOSED than office productive.

    We agents take appointments but have NOT been infected.
    Why, because we ADHERE and TAKE CARE of ourselves.

  • Russel Mathebula
    Reply

    These are the highlights of everything this government lays their hands on…

  • Diane Franks
    Reply

    Surely the major ‘benefit’ of holding a Fidelity Fund Certificate is the fidelity cover? What benefits are we getting without this? Zondo Commission should be looking into the EAAB. Personally, I would like to see an audited figure of the amount allegedly held in the Fidelity Fund and to ensure this hasn’t fallen prey to the usual Government looting.

  • K KRISHNA
    Reply

    This is complete lack of adhering to Covid 19 regulations that caused the continuous closure of this regulatory body and I personally think that they need to held accountable for their lack of service delivery.
    Further this I think the EAAB has to start employing people that are more competent in the driving seat of this regulatory body so that it can be more efficient also the CEO should have at least been an agent in that way she/he will have a better understanding how the industry actually works.

  • Hans Snyman
    Reply

    Can they please stay closed permanently . Rebosa can step in and do a far better job.

  • Vicky Torrente
    Reply

    Have been incompetent for years. The audacity of stating that they are caring for their staff astounds me. The staff have been paid since lockdown and are still receiving salaries for doing absolutely nothing. There is not even an attempt to look after the agents who pay the salaries of the staff.
    This department needs to be closed down and replaced by a competent, hard working body of people with an informed leader. Why do they need a union – sadly this is another ANC money-taker.

  • Priscilla Bosch
    Reply

    The EAAB is, in my humble opinion, useless in normal circumstances let alone during a Pandemic. My colleague and I have every year paid our CPD monies up front in February and every year have had to wait months to do e-Learning. This year is a total fiasco. Give my money back or take it off the FFC renewal. In this difficult time agents are also struggling to make ends meet!

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