EAAB Bulletin 02 July 2020 - EAAB Staff ready to assist clients as Johannesburg office reopens
02 JULY 2020
EAAB STAFF READY TO ASSIST CLIENTS AS JOHANNESBURG OFFICES RE-OPEN
Estate agents can now make use of all services offered by the Estate Agency Affairs Board after it opened its Sandton, Johannesburg offices yesterday. After months of closure due to COVID-19 lockdown regulations, the EAAB welcomed its first clients who needed assistance with a range of issues including new firm registrations, change of employment details and payment of fees.
Customer Relations Manager Thokozani Khumalo said her team was ready to serve and provide all the necessary support to ensure stakeholder satisfaction. “We have been assisting clients via electronic services throughout the lockdown period. We attended to more than 17 clients yesterday and adhered to social distancing protocols to ensure everyone’s safety,” said Khumalo.
EAAB CEO Ms. Mamodupi Mohlala said all employees and security personnel had undergone COVID-19 specific training prior to the re-opening to ensure compliance with all regulations and to safeguard the health and safety of employees and the public. Mohlala thanked stakeholders for their continued support and encouraged those using electronic means to access services to continue doing so if possible. “This is the new normal for everyone in the country, but we want to assure all our stakeholders that our priority is to offer them the best possible service,” said Mohlala.
Compliance Officer Mr. Oscar Mangole said the Covid-19 task team would continue to monitor the office and employees to ensure compliance and urged everyone to be vigilant while executing daily responsibilities. For Covid-19 related enquires contact: Covid-19 Compliance Officer Mr. Oscar Mangole at firstname.lastname@example.org
TEMPORARY RELIEF AS EAAB WAIVERS PENALTIES FOR LATE AUDIT SUBMISSIONS
The EAAB this week announced a much-welcomed reprieve in the form of a penalty waiver for late submissions of audit reports for the 2019/2020 year end. Audit reports are due annually by June 30, but the board is cognisant that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown several agents have not been able to complete this process.
According to section 29(1)(b), 32(3)(b) and 32(4) of the Estate Agency Affairs Act, the audit of the business accounting records and the trust accounting records shall be performed and finalised and the auditor’s report on the trust accounting records submitted to the EAAB within a period of four months after the financial year end of the estate agent. Ms. Mohlala said “estate agents and firms who failed to submit their audited financials by the due date would not be penalised and would also not be blocked/disqualified in terms of Section 27’’.
In May the EAAB made detailed submissions to the Department of Human Settlements on a raft of possible Covid-19 relief measures including the possible extension of deadlines for audit. A response to this request will be communicated as soon as it is received. To date 195 firms have submitted audit reports. The board would like to acknowledge and thank all those who submitted their audit reports under the trying conditions.
INSPECTIONS AND SELF ASSESSMENTS GO VIRTUAL TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE
The Inspections and Investigations Department of the EAAB plans to conduct virtual inspections for more than 60 estate agencies to ensure compliance with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA). Inspections and Investigations Executive Manager Ms. Dineo Mphahlele explained that the COVID-19 regulations had forced them to “think out of the box” to ensure continued serviced delivery while at the same time enforcing the required legislative mandates. “We will do that by using online platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Team and even WhatsApp video calls where necessary,” said Mphahlele. Inspectors will over the next four months conduct virtual “face-to-face” interactions with principal estate agents or any other designated individual in a firm’s employment to establish compliance with the Act and make determinations or directives in terms of the Act where necessary. The identified firms will be notified of the date and time of the virtual inspections. Ms Mphahlele however stressed that her department will resume with contact inspections once lockdown regulations are completely relaxed.
In addition to the virtual inspections, more than 375 principals will be invited to complete self-assessment questionnaires to check compliance with the Estate Agency Affairs Act. This method has been used for the past three years. Only invited principals are obliged to do the self-assessment questionnaires.
NEW SCHEDULE FOR DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS
A new schedule for disciplinary hearings will be released once the Compliance and Enforcement Department finalizes plans to hold virtual hearings.
Due to the national lockdown all hearings had to be put on hold as interprovincial travel was prohibited and mainly to ensure the health and safety of all involved. Acting Compliance and Enforcement Manager Ms. Deli Nkambule said the team was currently looking into the logistics around virtual hearings and was hopeful that the process would be expedited. “Once this process is complete, we will notify all parties timeously of the rescheduled hearing dates,” said Ms. Nkambule.
The department has however been working remotely and continued to offer its services during lockdown. It managed to respond and finalise 104 complaints. Ms. Nkambule said consumer protection was a priority and encouraged the public to use the 24-hour online complaint system to lodge complaints.
About the EAAB
The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) was established in 1976 in terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act 112 of 1976 (‘the Act”), with the mandate to regulate and control certain activities of estate agents in the public interest. The EAAB regulates the estate agency profession through ensuring that all persons carrying out the activities of an estate agent as a service to the public are registered with the EAAB. A Fidelity Fund Certificate, which is to be renewed each year, is issued as evidence of such registration and confirmation that such person is legally entitled to carry out the activities of an estate agent. The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), which has been reporting to the Minister of Trade and industry since 1976, was transferred to the Department of Human Settlements on 17 May 2012 by Proclamation of the President of the Republic of South Africa.
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