Author: Estate Agency Affairs Board [EAAB]
14 May 2020
EAAB COVID-19 SUPPORT MEASURES FOR THE REAL ESTATE SECTOR
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a worldwide economic downturn and the national lockdown will have long-lasting financial implications for many South Africans.
The lockdown has adversely affected the capacity of the real estate sector to operate which has threatened the viability of many estate agents.
The property industry is an important economic driver and as the regulator, the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), believes it is imperative that is pursues relief measures and offers assistance to mitigate some of the challenges its stakeholders are facing during this unprecedented outbreak.
In the past few weeks, the EAAB has received numerous requests from stakeholders within the sector seeking relief measures to try and circumvent the challenging times.
Your pleas have not fallen on deaf ears!
Since 26 March 2020, the EAAB Executives and the Board have had several meetings deliberating on how best to regulate and assist the real estate sector during this state of disaster. A guiding principle throughout all the discussions was the health, safety and financial well-being of all our stakeholders and how we navigate in this environment.
At the onset, it has to be stated that even though the National Disaster Act has been evoked, legislations governing accountability within public entities have not been suspended. As such, the EAAB is obliged to evaluate such requests using a broad legislative and policy framework.
An initial priority for the EAAB was to submit recommendations to the Executive Authority, the Department of Human Settlements, to have the real estate sector classification moved from level 2 to level 4 of National lockdown regulations. No combination of other relief measures can supersede this as a solution as, if granted, it will re-open the industry and allow estate agents to fully operate under adjusted risk measures that will ensure the health and safety of its stakeholders and the greater public.
The final decision on this request is that of the Minister of Human Settlements and her colleagues working under the auspices of the Ministerial committee tasked with the responsibility by his Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The EAAB has further resolved on the following relief measures, pending final approval by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. The intentions of these remedies are to ease the immediate financial demands on our stakeholders and help grow the country’s economy.
- Deferment and Waiver of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Fees
The Board and Management of EAAB has felt it prudent to delay the payment of CPD fees and more recently made a decision to further engage with Minister Sisulu for deferment of CPD as a form of relief. Furthermore, the EAAB will ensure that it continues to deliver in terms of CPD sessions via on online platform therefor subsidizing the sector.
- Concession in respect of late Audit Report submissions
The sector requested that the deadline for submission of audit reports be moved to 30 September 2020. The Board however does not have the powers to grant such a request as it is prescribed in the Estate Agents Affairs Act. However we will not completely fail to attend to the request. The Board has submitted a proposal to the Executive Authority, which if granted will enable us to make an announcement to the industry.
- Payment Holiday for Exam Fees, Fines and Penalties
The sector requested the EAAB to announce a payment holiday until 28 February 2021 for all estate agents who are in arrears with payments, fines and/or penalties and all exam fees.
The Board took a decision that it would not consider a payment holiday on any historical debt, but would consider a payment holiday on penalties on Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) renewals. However, given that FFC renewals are only due on 31st October 2020, and penalties only kick-in on 1st November, the Board will make a further determination on this issue at a later date.
- Professional Indemnity Insurance
The sector requested that the Professional Indemnity Insurance be used to cover their operations during the lockdown. The Board noted that the Professional Indemnity Insurance was specifically set up to indemnify the public against negligent practices of estate agents and hence this Insurance cannot be used for operational costs of estate agents.
We are mindful that the COVID-19 pandemic has created great uncertainty and financial pressure and as such we will have continued engagements with our stakeholders.
The Corona virus will be with us for some time, but together our agile responses and ability to change will decide how we navigate the post lockdown environment.
Issued on behalf of EAAB CEO Ms Mamodupi Mohlala
For more information contact
Ms Chandré Prince
Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Specialist
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