JOHANNESBURG – The new Property Practitioners Act that comes into effect later this year will have significant bearing on transformation, consumer protection and regulation in property and related industries, according to Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) chief executive Mamodupi Mohlala.
Ms. Mohlala and EAAB chairman Mr. Nkosinathi Biko hosted a series of meetings over three days in Sandton, Johannesburg with existing and new stakeholders who fall under the ambit of the new legislation.
Ms. Mohlala said the aim of the engagements was to prepare industry for the various regulatory and statutory changes.
Central to the discussions held between 3 and 6 February 2020, were the broadened definition of the Act, new provisions which offer greater consumer protection, licensing regimes and transformation of the property industry.
Mr Biko said buy-in and co-operation from stakeholders was key during the transition period and going forward as all role players need to understand their future roles and responsibilities under the auspices of the new Act. The aim of the engagements, he emphasized, was to bridge the gap between the regulator and the sector and create an enabling environment of engagement; and to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the industry.
“Of importance is to ensure that we are ready to fulfill our expanded mandate and assure those organizations coming under our regulatory authority of our commitment and ability to fulfill our mandate and a smooth transition,” said Mr Biko.
The Act, signed into law in October last year repeals the old Estate Affairs Act, broadens the definition of legislation beyond traditional estate agents to cover other marker players, including commercial property brokers, bond originators, auctioneers, managing and letting agents, business brokers, time shares, property development (to the extent where thy market properties), trusts, property exhibitions and payment processor platform).
One stand-out feature of the Act discussed in detail was the chapter on transformation which is geared towards transforming the property market to ensure that it is reflective of the demographics of South Africa.
This chapter dictates that the EAAB – soon to be the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA)- set up a research centre and a transformation fund and introduce measures of redress. It also states that the PPRA must ensure that goods and services are procured from BBBEE compliant practitioners.
Auctioneers, managing and letting agents, bond originators, bond financiers, time share schemes all agreed that transformation of the sector was critical, with Rhoda Grootboom, executive director of AWCI home loans, describing it as “a dream come true”.
“More black women and black people would love to be part of this industry,” said Ms Grootboom.
Dr Tirhani Mabunda of the South African Professional Auctioneers Association said there was no transformation in the auctioneering sector and that greater education among black people about the industry is needed.
Advocate Louis Taljaard, chairman on the Bridging Finance Association of South Africa welcomed the new inspection powers conferred on EAAB inspectors saying it will help root out the thousands of estate agents practicing illegally.
National Association of Managing Agents (NAMA) COO Coenie said while they welcomed the Act, there are still specific issues that needed further discussion ahead of the regulations being finalised.
One such issue being “dual regulation”, with auctioneers, bond originators and bond brokers arguing that they were already regulated under other pieces of legislation.
Ms. Mohlala however stressed that these issues would be dealt with when the regulations of the Act are finalised. “We will engage with the National Consumer Commission and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority to discuss the concerns around seemingly dual regulation.”
She said a broader industry workshop scheduled for next month will focus on five work streams namely Transformation, Fidelity Fund, Enforcement, Licensing and Education and Training. Position papers will be prepared for the workshop which will then form the basis of deliberations. Details of the workshop will be communicated to all stakeholders once finalised.”
Ms. Mohlala said a mammoth task lied ahead, but that the engagements showed that stakeholders were ready to be part of change. The EAAB was also engaging with the Department of Human Settlements on progress made and to discuss the way forward.