Consumers warned to be vigilant in conducting property transactions
The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) urges consumers to be vigilant when doing property transactions and to always check if the estate agent they are dealing with has a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate that is issued by the Board.
The EAAB has noted an increase in complaints from consumers against estate agents or persons purporting to be such of which upon investigation most of them were found to not be registered estate agents.
By law estate agents are required to have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate issued by the EAAB in order for them to practice.
“The EAAB therefore urges consumers to request this certificate before entering into any property transaction with anyone claiming to be an estate agent. This will ensure that they are protected against illegal practitioners,” said EAAB’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Mr Nikita Sigaba.
Compared to the same period last financial year, Sigaba added that there has been an increase in the number of complaints lodged against estate agents both legal and illegal. “For the first and second quarter we have received almost 2500 complaints from consumers against estate agents, and with the festive season upon us and people preparing for next year we urge people to be careful and to ensure that the estate agent they are dealing with has a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate”.
Sigaba added that although not all complaints were resolved by the EAAB as some fall outside of its jurisdiction.
The EAAB advises consumers to verify banking details of estate agents with the banks in order to ascertain that the transaction is legitimate. “It is important to use a registered estate agent as this protects consumers in case of loss of monies deposited to an estate agent’s bank account. By using a registered estate agent one is able to claim against the Estate Agency Fidelity Fund which is intended to reimburse persons who in certain circumstances who have suffered losses due to the theft of trust monies by estate agents”, said Sigaba.
The EAAB has also received complaints from consumers that have been scammed of their rental money. Scammers will impersonate an estate agent using fake names and contact details, usually from a reputable firm only for the scammer to disappear once a consumer deposits money into their bank account.
It’s important for potential tenants to look out for these red flags and take caution
- Never transfer any money to the landlord or rental agent without meeting them or first viewing the property. It is a cause for concern if the landlord insists on payment based on website photos and descriptions via telephone conversations.
- Beware of estate agents or landlords who are eager to sign the lease agreement without vetting and following basic standard procedures.
- If the “estate agent” is in a hurry to close the deal and is willing to do so at all cost.
Issued by the Estate Agency Affairs Board
Date: December 2017
Enquiries: Bongani Mlangeni, Head of Communications
Cell: 078 120 0369