The housing minister could act swiftly to make a huge difference
Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa, Mmamoloko Kubayi, Minister for Human Settlements
The newly appointed Minister for Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi, is welcomed by a real estate industry desperate for change, says Jan le Roux, chief executive of Rebosa.
"The minister now has a unique opportunity to distance herself from an ostensibly failed Estate Agency Affairs Board(EAAB), the real estate industry regulator, by making several quick decisions that can put matters rapidly back on track.
One of the first action steps she can implement is to appoint board members to the new Property Practitioners Boards and expedite the promulgation of the finalized regulations, thereby at long last put the Property Practitioners Act, signed by the President in 2019, into effect."
Le Roux says this will enable Kubayi to:
Determine streamlined educational requirements to expedite 25,000 plus intern agents (more than 50% of the industry).
Declare an amnesty of all transgressions, arrears, and penalties under the old Act(except in the instances of fraud, theft, or criminal activity) to enable the new Regulatory Authority to have a fresh start to meet all the obligations and manage the extended authority placed it by the new Act.
Ensure the cooperation of conveyancers not to pay commission to unregistered agents. Declare an amnesty for estate agents trading illegally to register promptly or face the consequences.
Launch the Property Sector Transformation Fund.
These steps can be achieved in a matter of weeks and will have the enthusiastic support of the real estate industry. Pressure on the inadequate systems of the EAAB will be lessened. According to Le Roux, the appalling alternative is to leave the current EAAB and act in place. This will have the following consequences :
The EAAB was taken to court by Rebosa, mainly for its failure to issue FFC's which enables agents to trade legally. The judgment against the EAAB was scathing, to say the least, and Rebosa was awarded punitive costs. Rebosa is about to file a subsequent suit as the EAAB has not fully complied with the court order. It appears that 3000 plus FFC's for 2021 have not been issued. The current board seems to be incapable of decisive action. Given the current status quo, the EAAB seems ill-equipped to implement the new Act and assume additional responsibilities. A new board will be better incentivized to ensure the successful implementation of the new Act. Since 2017 the EAAB has been promising to replace its failing IT system, yet tenders to effect this closed in August 2020 with no supplier appointed to date. Currently, payments made to EAAB, approximately R70 000 per annum, must be allocated manually, causing errors and delays. The CPD has been delayed by months, and unallocated payments will lead to more agents denied FFC's for next year. Despite having been warned by their own lawyers not to raise penalties and fees illegally in conflict with the Act and Regulations, the EAAB continues to do so, leading to further legal action and claims amounting to R millions. Transformation initiatives have largely failed, and assistance promised to PDI agents was only implemented years after approval and rather unsuccessfully.
The essential Transformation Fund will not be launched.
"Concerned estate agents are waiting on the new minister to usher in a new era, hoping that steps will be taken to ensure transformation and the successful continuation of a vibrant and important industry," Le Roux stated.