Having exhausted all other options to rectify ongoing service delivery issues from the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), the Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (REBOSA) has officially engaged in legal action against the regulator. Friday 5 March saw the parties face off in court for the first time, signalling much needed hope for hundreds of estate agents around the country still struggling to get their Fidelity Fund Certificates for 2021.
Court isn’t the only arena in which the EAAB will need to defend its actions, however. REBOSA has today been made aware of a forensic audit of the EAAB ordered by the Minister for Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu.
“We are extremely thankful to see that Minister Sisulu is taking the EAAB’s failures seriously, and that she has initiated investigations into the regulators consistent inability to fulfil their mandate,” says Tony Clarke, Chairman of REBOSA. “This is a very powerful demonstration of support for our industry – support we are grateful to have as we continue to fight for the rights of real estate professionals.”
The scope of the Minister’s audit will cover the last 24 months of Fidelity Fund transactions, investments and processes; EAAB staff appointments; tenders and procurement processes; and legal matters attended and financed by the EAAB.
Clarke is hopeful that this will finally reveal the root of the regulatory body’s service delivery issues which have persisted despite costs over R1.5 million which REBOSA incurred for salaries of people placed at the EAAB to assist with REBOSA member queries.
“REBOSA wholeheartedly supports the intended role of the EAAB in implementing the Estate Agency Affairs Act and promoting better transparency, disclosure, accountability and governance in our industry,” says Clarke. “In its current form, however, the regulator is effectively achieving the exact opposite.”
By shedding light on the underlying cause of the situation, Clarke says Minister Sisulu’s audit could become the catalyst needed to transform the EAAB into the positive force it was supposed to be and we hope that the minister will allow transparency in its audit findings and make such available to REBOSA.
In the meantime, however, REBOSA will continue its efforts to secure a court order forcing the EAAB to issue all outstanding FFCs to qualified agents.
“This is not a matter that can wait,” he says. “Without current FFCs, qualified property practitioners are having to choose between committing a criminal offence by working as usual, or not earning a single cent in income until the EAAB gets its act together. It’s an untenable situation. Resolving it must be our primary focus for now. After that, we can look towards solving the broader institutional problems at hand.”