EAAB doublespeak

EAAB doublespeak

MAIN IMAGE: Tony Clarke, chairman Rebosa; Jan le Roux, chief executive Rebosa; Mamodupi Mohlala, CEO EAAB

The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) plans to oppose Rebosa’s court order application but will appoint a task team to prevent a FFC backlog repeat.

Last week 28 January 2021 industry body Rebosa filed an urgent application for a court order to force the EAAB to issue all outstanding Fidelity Fund certificates (FFC’s) to estate agents who have otherwise met all their professional obligations.

Rebosa filed the court application after once again receiving hundreds of complaints from estate agents who found themselves in the new year without renewed FFC’s despite having applied and paid for it’s renewal by 31 October of last year. A scenario that has plagued the sector for years – a consequence in large part attributed to an ageing IT system which the EAAB promised to upgrade in 2017 but is only attending to now.

According to Rebosa chairman Tony Clarke numerous appeals in the past to the Minister and Director General of the Department of Human Settlements have been fruitless, and the 2020’s lockdowns only exacerbated the situation.

“The processes involved in renewing FFC’s are now archaic,” says Clarke. “Things like manual allocation of payments lead to huge delays and countless errors. The extent of the problem has seen the number of queries lodged with the Board peak at 80 000 in an industry with only 46 000 agents.”

Now the time has come for them to be heard. Rebosa claims the EAAB has not only failed to deliver on its mandate of regulating, maintaining and promoting the standard of conduct of estate agents, it has become an active hinderance to their ability to conduct business in accordance with the law.

Commenting on the litigation, EAAB CEO Mamodupi Mohlala yesterday said that the EAAB will be opposing the application and is currently preparing their answering affidavit. She said the EAAB will be registering their concern at court that this matter was not raised at the bi-weekly meetings they had with Rebosa in October last year (which doesn’t make sense as the Board has until 31 December to issue certificates so agents will not raise a complaint before 1 January. Ed). However, she also said she has established a task team to look into the matter so that they can make sure there won’t be a repeat of this situation (thereby acknowledging a problem to issue all compliant FFC’s prior to 31 December. Ed).

Two different realities

Mohlala since she became CEO in 2019 has on numerous occasions, that is to parliamentary committee, Rebosa and in the press said that everything is under control and all due certificates would be issued timeously – but her reporting hasn’t always been factually correct.

  • In February 2019 her claim to the PPC that the FFC backlog had been cleared was proved to be incorrect as there were still a number of estate agents waiting on FFC’s.
  • In December 2019 Mohlala in a public statement declared that all compliant FFC’s had been issued before the 31st – by January Rebosa handed a list of 741 of outstanding FFC queries to the EAAB. Rebosa’s court application asserts that this number had grown to 1 100 by 12 February 2020.
  • Despite this, in her report last November to the PPC Mohlala maintained that all compliant FFC’s had been issued by 31 December 2019.

When asked about the apparent discrepancies, Mohlala explained that in December 2019, after issuing over 33 000 FFC’s – “it’s best ever performance” Mohlala says – the EAAB “believed that all compliant FFC’s had been issued”. She admits there were a further 3 000 applications but says they were with outstanding documents.

With regards to her report to the PPC Mohlala told Property Professional that she doesn’t see a discrepancy.

In other words Mohlala doesn’t acknowledge that the EAAB had a backlog of FFC’s for estate agents who had fulfilled all requirements in their renewal applications. Eventually the EAAB issued 51 000 FFC’s last year. Jan le Roux, chief executive of Rebosa, notes it is extremely unlikely that the entire difference of almost 20 000 FFC’s would be due to agents leaving the industry or erring in some way iro renewal applications. “While true that the EAAB made an effort to issue the FFC’s timeously, it is not factually correct to state that all compliant FFC’s were issued by 31 December 2019,” states Le Roux.

Back to the court application

Rebosa with their court application included a list of 210 agents awaiting their FFC’s. Once again, Mohlala would rather turn the spotlight on the fact that by 23 December 2020 over 35 000 FFC’s had been issued than having an issue made over those not issued yet. After all, the ones referred to the court are less than 3% of the total number of FFC’s issued she says.

“But the list represents only the agents that they know about, one must bear in mind that far more agents are affected than those on the list,” says Le Roux. As 51 000 FFC’s were issued last year it is likely that there could still be thousands more without FFC’s. “This is indicative of the ‘ethos’ at the EAAB, ie ‘we have done our best and if three percent of agents cannot earn a living it is ok’. Of course, much more than three percent are affected,” he says.

“One must also keep in mind that the EAAB received applications from 1 July till 31 October which is ample time to get the job done before 31 December,” Le Roux adds.

According to Mohlala there are some new applications among those on the list and their FFC’s have since been issued – the first admittance by the EAAB that certificates are issued after due date which is what the court application is all about says Le Roux. “The task team is another admittance that the court application is justified,” he added.

As mentioned, the EAAB had already promised to overhaul their inadequate IT system in 2017 but never did. Mohlala says the EAAB is now in the process of overhauling and updating the system. If done effectively, next year’s new year FFC backlogs in the new year may hopefully be a thing of the past soon – which is what Rebosa aims to achieve along with the eradication of other service delivery problems such as challenges with CPD programmes etc. “REBOSA fully supports the role of the Estate Agency Affairs Act in promoting better transparency, disclosure, accountability and governance in our industry,” Clarke says. “We simply need the legislation implemented effectively in order for it to have the desired effect.”

Showing 10 comments
  • Moira A Wingate
    Reply

    It is suggested that REBOSA endeavours to have all estate agents join its organisation. Our company has been in business as estate agents since 1964 and yet we have not been approached to join REBOSA

    We too are experiencing problems with the EAAB and are endeavouring to have these concerns addressed

  • Peter Tychsen
    Reply

    In the 21st century I am ashamed to be an agent is South Africa. The EAAB is a disaster.

  • Jan
    Reply

    How about taking them to task about the fines they issue if an agent is not practicing in SA and then returns to be faced by an astronomical fine before being able to receive his FFC??

    • Marelize Coetzee
      Reply

      I have the exact same problem! I have been struggling for almost a year just trying to get registered again! It still has not happened. I know there will be a fine payable- if only they can tell me how much it is so that I can pay and move on!!

  • Tessa
    Reply

    Greetings. My name is Tereza Barnard, I am an estate agent in Howick, KZN. I paid for my FFC before October 31st 2020, and despite numerous requests and phone calls, all with reference numbers, am given the story about the ‘backlog’, despite the fact that my payment has been received and all documentation is in order! I honestly do not know what to do any more, this is an absurd situation.

    Also, I paid the R2000 for CPD points early in 2020, and now apparently I have until June 2021 to get in my CPD points, I would presume this would be by means of e-learning, which also is presenting great difficulties in accessing?

    So, my question would be, to stay compliant, where to from here?
    Thank you

  • Mike Spencer
    Reply

    Just ask any new intern agent what hell they have to go through to obtain their FFC’s. Please explain to me how I am, as the Principal, supposed to provide a reference number for an intern application!
    While we are at it why do new agents not receive a copy of the Code of Conduct?
    In the past two out of three years I have had to drive from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg to sort out FFC’s. When I get there, they cannot tell me why they have not been issued. Eventually the cashier tells us that there is an extra fee because we are “too big”.
    I have not received my principal FFC for one of the companies I am a Principal of. I have enquired and received confirmation of my request and then … . We should return to the situation where IEASA ran the registration. Far more effective and efficient.

  • Remo
    Reply

    The EAAB is just totally incompetent and the CEO has continually misstated the facts about the FFC situation since the first date she was in office. She doesn’t take any responsibility for the MASSIVE shortcomings of this draconian organisation.
    It is totally unacceptable if even 1 agent do not get their FFC on time, never mined 3% of agents, which she seems to think is okay!? REALLY
    It took me more than 4 months and about 10 emails just to get them to unlock the 2020 CPD E-learning for me.
    If this was private practice she would have been fired long ago, but being a government institution, her job is protected till death, so to speak!!
    Rebosa should rather have taken her to court to have her removed as she is just incompetent!

  • Gavin
    Reply

    The Board is always quick to demand fees, claim penalties etc for what?
    For incompetence, inefficiency, and all the other ills one experiences with any government dept. Our franchise alone is assisting more than 10 interns with the Logbook and NQF4 courses, but it has been a struggle to get FFC’s all the time. Our franchise does not allow any agent to start any work or course until they are in possession of a FFC and registered with the Southern African franchisor. There are countless agents operating without FFC’s even at well established agencies, perhaps they couldn’t be bothered. The response by the Board is typical of the response by any government official to accusations of this nature.

  • RORY MILLS
    Reply

    “She admits there were a further 3 000 applications but says they were with outstanding documents.” For the past two years I have been sending supporting documents – sometimes as many as four times, but they do nothing with these documents and keep on requesting that I submit these documents again. It’s time to take the EAAB on in terms of PAJA – they are a bunch of useless bureaucrats collecting their monthly salaries for doing NOTHING!

  • Karen Witke
    Reply

    .. love the comments of Ed in the article!

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