NPPC calls for end to educational limbo
MAIN IMAGE: Vuyiswa Ramokgopa, Chairperson of the NPPC
The Property Practitioners Act (PPA) and regulations were promulgated just over five months ago, on 1 February 2022, in a move that was welcomed as long overdue by industry stakeholders. In the intervening months, the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA) sought, and finally obtained legal opinion on one article of the Act. The article in question, Section 75(6), which refers, amongst other things, to the Standard of Training of Estate Agents Regulations of 2008 (the Education Regulations).
The National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC) has this week released a strong statement regarding what it believes to be the PPRA misinterpretation of the article, and the resultant incorrect assertions made by the Authority.
The issue at hand? Whether or not, the 2008 regulations are still applicable following the coming into effect of the PPA. The short answer, is no.
The NPPC states that the council has sought an official legal opinion on the interpretation of Section 75(6) of the PPA, “which confirms the view that the 2008 regulations have been replaced and repealed by the current regulations as of 1st February 2022”, she goes on to state that this view is supported by various other independent legal practitioners who have published views in the public domain to this effect.
Why does it matter whether the 2008 regulations have been repealed by the current regulations?
The new Act omitted NQF 4 and 5, relying instead on the PDE qualification and a practical training course. In essence, the shift to scrapping the NQF comes down to cost, inclusivity and streamlining the industry as per the Minister’s seeming intent – all factors that are vital to the professional growth of estate agents, and the industry as a whole.
The Council statement explains that, “Since its inception in 2008, there is no evidence that the current standard of training has significantly enhanced the standard of practice in the industry, instead, it has unfortunately been a massive barrier to transformation in the industry as it costs on average between R6 000 and R 18 000 to achieve full certification, a cost that is prohibitive to many. It is also a travesty funds that could be better diverted towards capacitating and empowering entrepreneurs in the industry and creating jobs are instead diverted to endless training and education which has yet to demonstrate tangible benefit to the industry”.
At present more than half of the registered practitioners in the country (approximately 23 400) hold the status of intern, many of whom have been interns for many years, in excess of the prescribed maximum of two years, and are unable or simply unwilling to be upgraded to full status due to the onerous process and cost of getting certified.
Is a PDE qualification enough?
According to the NPPC the PDE qualification is largely a duplication of the NQF qualification to begin with. The NPPC further detailed what they view as incorrect assertions, and their implications in detail:
- That if NQF 4 & 5 falls away, “there is nothing in their place considering that the PPRA still in the process of conducting consultations in order to establish new qualification standards as provided in the new PPA Regulations. That would also mean that the PPRA will not be in a position to conduct Professional Designation Examinations which are premised on the same qualifications. This would have serious ramifications for the entire industry and the economy”.
“This is not true. The new regulations, specifically regulation 33.4 of the PPA regulations prescribes a new standard of education which includes the PDE (of which there is already an extensive curriculum and exam) as well as the inclusion of a practical training course which is to be developed primarily by the leading industry bodies (a process is already underway to develop this practical training course)”.
Considering that the NQF curriculum is already an outdated programme. The adoption of the PDE, in combination with a practical training course would seem to be a far more practical, legally relevant training regime for existing interns and future applicants.
- That the PDE 4 & 5 is premised on the NQF 4 & NQF 5 and therefore one cannot exist without the other.
“This is also factually incorrect. The NQF qualification is a completely separate standard from the PDE. Furthermore, the content taught and examined in the PDE is largely a duplication of the NQF content. The current PPA regulations do not prescribe any requirement for an aspirant practitioner to complete NQF 4 prior to completing PDE4. In fact, it clearly states that PDE4 can be completed before even joining the industry”.
The Council is of the view that, “It would appear that the PPRA is referring to the old 2008 regulations (4a & b) which explicitly stated that ‘no person may perform the functions of ”a non-principal or principal agent “ unless that person has completed the National Certificate: Real Estate” and which would be a “pre-requisite for admission to the Professional Designation Examination for estate agents”. There is no such equivalent requirement or provision in the new regulations which the industry believes is a positive step in streamlining the path to certification, reducing the cost of education and fast-tracking transformation without impacting the quality and standard of practice in the industry”.
A way forward
The NPPC has several recommendations for driving the process forward, principal of which is to fast-track the implementation of the new Property Practitioners Regulations and work with the industry to develop a new education and training regime that is forward-looking, reduces the cost of compliance and enables transformation rather than hindering it.
- It also calls for the expeditated updating of the existing PDE4 to align with the new PP Act and all other relevant requirements.
- Committing to an urgent deadline of when the new education requirements will be finalised as “the industry cannot remain in an endless limbo state of ‘transitionary provisions’”.
- Acknowledging the exemption all currently registered and/or new entrants to the industry from needing to complete NQF4 as permitted by the PP regulations.
- Expediting consultations with industry by engaging meaningfully with the NPPC which represents more than 90% of all estate agents as well as a majority other non-estate agent property practitioners and is therefore the most representative industry body.
“It is our hope that the PPRA will engage with the NPPC, as the leading property sector industry council, and other bodies to work together on urgently resolving any disputes regarding the interpretation of the PPA and the resultant steps needed to now move forward,” says Vuyiswa Ramokgopa, Chairperson of the NPPC.