In a scathing judgement handed down from the High Court on 15 March, the failure of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) to issue Fidelity Fund Certificates (FFCs) to the applicant estate agents has been found without merit. This comes after urgent application from the Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (REBOSA) as a last resort to assist real estate professionals still awaiting the issuance of their FFCs for 2021.
The EAAB was not only unable to provide any evidence supporting the lawful withholding of FFCs from the applicant agents and agencies, its conduct during litigation was such that it was explicitly called out in the court’s judgement as “further evidence of the disarray in the EAAB and the concerns raised by REBOSA”.
As a result, the court found in favour of REBOSA and its co-applicants, with costs. The EAAB has been given urgent deadlines by which they must either issue the outstanding FFCS to each qualified agent and agency listed in the application, or notify them of valid reasons for not doing so.
Further to this, the EAAB has been ordered to file a report with the court within 30 days detailing the number of applications for FFCs received on or before 31 October 2020, how many of these applications were approved for certification, and how many certificates have been issued. The regulator must also disclose the total number of unresolved queries lodged by estate agents and the total funds currently held in its suspense account.
“REBOSA welcomes the judgement, as it highlights the plight of the average agent in our industry,” says REBOSA Chairman, Tony Clarke. “Even more importantly, we hope that it will open doors to collaborating with the EAAB on resolving its service delivery challenges. This would be a huge step towards achieving a mutually beneficial working relationship with our regulator and building a better professional future for the real estate industry as a whole.”