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EAAB commits to making sure legitimate estate agents can operate

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Following a High Court judgment against it last week, the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) says it is committed to ensuring legitimate estate agents can operate.
It also says it is committed to working with the Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (Rebosa) – who took them to court to legally force them to issue outstanding operating licences.
Last week Gauteng High Court Judge F Kathree-Setiloane ordered the EAAB – within eight days – to issue outstanding operating licences to estate agents who had, through the Rebosa, taken the regulatory body to court in an urgent application to be able to work legally and earn an income.
In a statement, the EAAB says it is committed to issuing Fidelity Fund Certificates to all legitimate applicants.
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The EAAB says its legal team is studying last week’s judgment and will determine the next course of action.
“Rebosa indicated that 832 FFCs were outstanding in relation to the more than 35 000 that the EAAB had already successfully issued,” the EAAB said.

The EAAB asserts of the 832 FFCs cited by Rebosa, 629 have been issued; 166 have been found to be duplications and the balance of 37 will be finalised as soon as the EAAB receives outstanding documentation requested from the estate agents.

“We note the importance of FFCs for persons’ livelihoods and therefore all compliant FFC applicants deserve to hold their FFCs.

“Among the reasons for outstanding FFC applications were incomplete documentation and duplicate applications. Most of the affected applicants were communicated to at various intervals in late 2020 and informed of the delays.”

The EAAB says it also remains committed to its efforts to continue its working relationship with Rebosa that includes weekly stakeholder meetings where such issues can be tabled and resolved.

In court papers the judge said after the launch of the urgent application by Rebosa, the EAAB had issued FFCs to 162 of the 209 individual applicants, “but simply failed to provide the court with an explanation or apology for its failure to act earlier”.

Judge F Kathree-Setiloane not only ruled in favour of Rebosa but also awarded them punitive costs.

The operating licence is an essential legal requirement of every estate agent and the timeous issue of the certificates has been a problem of the EAAB – the body responsible for regulating and controlling certain activities of estate agents – since at least 2014, with extensive backlogs from previous years, according to court documents.

In terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act, an estate agent must have a valid FFC to receive any payment or commission arising from their duties as an estate agent. Even if an FFC has been applied for, if a valid FFC is not held by an estate agent at the time of a transaction, the estate agent is not entitled to any commission or payment for the transaction.

Meanwhile the regulatory body is also facing an audit ordered by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, which it has welcomed, saying it has nothing to hide.

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