Property Practitioner Bill [B21-2018]: stakeholder engagement

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

04 September 2018
Chairperson: Ms N Mafu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received comments and recommendations from 12 organisations involved in the South African property industry on the proposals contained in the Property Practitioners Bill.

The Mortgage Origination Council of South Africa (MORCSA) submitted that they were regulated by the Financial Sector Regulation Act (FRSA). If the Bill was enacted as proposed, it would “create a somewhat round peg in a square hole” by giving rise to dual regulation. If indeed the Bill sought to repeal the FSRA, this would entail amendments to the Bill affecting definitions and matters such as trust accounts, training, transitional arrangements and codes of conduct

The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) submitted that the Bill should be strengthened to provide for a formal but simple auditor accreditation process. While it agreed that both the trust accounts and business accounts of the property practitioner should be audited by the same auditor, the Bill should differentiate between the two different types of engagements, as one would most likely be a compliance engagement (trust account), the other a statutory audit against a financial reporting framework (business account).

The Council for Debt Collectors (CDC) said that the Bill sought to amend the Debt Collectors Act (DBA), as it implied that there was a difference between defaulting on a home loan and owing the bank, and defaulting on arrear rent payable and owing the landlord. It made no provision for any fee structure or enforcement process for the recovery of debts. There was no provision made for a code of conduct for debt collection, and no sanctionable offence for abuses when recovering debts.

The South African Council for Property Values Profession, (SACPVP) said their main contention was over the Bill’s definition of a “property practitioner,” which meant any person or business that assessed property to determine defects, value for money and fit for use, as part of the conclusion. It argued that a property valuer valued, evaluated, appraised or assessed property, and submitted that the definition of a property practitioner should exclude the phrase “assesses property to determine value for money”.

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) indicated that their concerns were in relation to trust accounts, business accounts, and other changes related to audit and transitional provisions. Detailed amendments were suggested to S53, which included the requirement for the auditor to express an assurance conclusion on whether the trust accounts of the property practitioner for the financial year under consideration were maintained in all material respects.

The Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) said there was a pressing need for tenants to also be included within the scope of training which the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) envisaged fulfilling. The DHS should take care not to duplicate the role of the Office of the Ombud. There were two matters of concern -- the Bill did not make mention of a time limit that dictated the length of a matter in an adjudication process, and there was also the clause on non-recognition provided in Section 34 of the constitution. The Bill indicated that an adjudicator’s order could be referred back to the Ombud, but made no mention of a consumer’s right of recourse to the courts in the event of their being unhappy with the Ombud’s decision.

The Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF) briefed Members on four areas: consumer protection, andthe role of the Ombud; applying transformation objectives to the informal sector; definitions and obligations of property practitioners; and monitoring and reporting. They supported the Bill and its transformation objective, while emphasising that this must not be limited to changing the status of formal estate agents. It must also include measures to increase the number of formal estate agents operating at the lower end of the market in historically disadvantaged areas, and strong consumer education initiatives aimed at increasing trust and utilisation of formal processes by lower end consumers.

The Black Property Practitioners Association (BPPA), said there were no provisions in the Bill for poor black practitioners, who could not afford to pay the very expensive fees. They often got blueprints of information without being engaged in decision-making, and instead always got instructions from white people in authority. They were never subsidised as white were to receive training and to conduct promotions among the black communities to recruit more black practitioners into the industry. There was a very urgent need to introduce incubation programmes, with capacity building and skills developments in particular, for black people only.

Archicheck briefed Members on property inspections and information from an architect’s perspective. It was concerned that there would be an overlap in the roles of the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) and the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA). The issues of non-qualified property inspectors, and the self-regulation of existing property inspection firms and education bodies urgently needed to be addressed. Tertiary education and recognised qualifications were required for property inspectors, as currently there was neither formal training nor legislation to regulate the home/property inspection industry.

A firm of attorneys made submissions on the Bill on behalf of the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Services SETA). Their main concern was the provision of education and training of property practitioners, and the authorisation of grants, as these were two functions that the Services SETA already performed. Including such provisions in the Bill amounted to an overlap of powers in the property sector and would lead to unnecessary conflict.

The Real Estate Business Owners of SA (REBOSA) expressed concern about the broadness of the definition of "property practitioner," and the effect it would have of drawing within its ambit a vast number of other persons and enterprises which were not currently regulated. There should be no exception provided for attorneys in relation to compliance with the legislation, as this would be damaging not only to the existing property practitioners' industry, but also to the philosophy of black economic empowerment espoused by the Bill. It also suggested that the definition of "franchise agreement" in the Consumer Protection Act be adopted for purposes of the Bill, as the effect of the current provision would be to substantially destroy franchising in the property practitioners industry, as the only way franchisors would be able to protect themselves and their own businesses -- including against a possible loss of their fidelity fund certificates -- would be by way of terminating their arrangements with their various franchisees.

The National Property Forum (NPF) said that almost 99% of black estate agents did not use their trust accounts, yet the bill proposed no differentiation between those who did or did not. Exorbitant auditing fees were a barrier to entry, and it proposed the Bill put a limit on fees and/or exempted businesses making less than RI.5 million in annual gross commission turnover from having trust accounts. It supported the introduction of a transformation fund, and believed this should be made mandatory for businesses with a gross annual turnover of more than RI.5 million. An agreed tax-deductible levy on gross annual turnover could be levied on these businesses to grow the fund.

The Committee expressed concern that in this day and age, a sector that contributed in excess of 15% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was not adequately transformed. At the centre of the engagements had been the need to remove impediments for the entry and sustainability of the previously disadvantaged property businesses. The Committee welcomes the fact that there was universal agreement that the Bill was necessary for the transformation of the sector. It had been made aware of issues that would require further consideration by the Committee and the Department. Those issues included the requirement for practitioners to have trust funds, the costs associated with audit processes, the duplication of membership across bodies that regulate the industry, as well as structural training and the role of a transformation fund in advancing the transformation of the sector. The Committee would undertake an extensive programme of further public consultations to garner input in efforts to strengthen the Bill.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the meeting was to engage with stakeholders on the Property Practitioners Bill [B21-2018], which was a Section 75 Bill. The Committee had had its first meeting regarding the Bill on 20 June 2018. To date, 15 submissions had been received from the public, and that was what the meeting was sitting to consider. The Bill would be going to the Provinces after this and there would be broader public engagements.. It was hoped that the engagements would end by the end of September, after which the Department would be asked to respond to input that had been made.

Mortgage Origination Council of South Africa (MORCSA)

Mr J Vermeulen, Board Member, MORCSA, said MORCSA was an industry body that had been established by the three largest origination corporations in SA, being Ooba (Pty) Limited, BetterLife Group Limited and Multi Net Real Estate cc. It represents approximately 500 to 600 individuals operating as bond brokers, which was the term that was defined in the Bill. Mortgage originators were financial services providers operating between banks and home buyers -- “bond broker” was a US term not commonly used in South Africa.  Originators play a pro-consumer role by advising and assisting consumers to submit home loan applications to more than one bank, thereby increasing consumers’ access to competitive credit (pricing and terms) by offering choice.

Origination had increased transparency in the home loan lending market, thereby increasing the rate and credit terms competition between banks to the benefit of consumers. The mortgage bond related to a home purchase may be the single largest financial transaction for a consumer in their life.  Originators’ services unquestioningly empower the consumer.

Mortgage origination was regulated under s3(1)(g) of the Financial Sector Regulation Act as a “financial service,” which meant ‘a service related to the provision of credit’. “Financial product” meant ‘provision of credit provided in terms of a credit agreement regulated in terms of the National Credit Act’. A mortgage loan/home loan was a “financial product” under the National Credit Act. This had been confirmed by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).

MORCSA’s submission was that dual regulation was inappropriate, and was seemingly not intended. The definition of “bond broker” in the Bill excluded “persons regulated under the Financial Services Board Act, 1990”. At the time of the first drafting of the Bill, the legislators’ clear intent was to avoid dual regulation. Origination was not regulated by the Financial Service Board Act, hence the need for regulation.

Subsequently, the Financial Services Board (FSB) Act (1990) had been repealed and replaced by the Financial Sector Regulation Act (2017). The result was that origination was now regulated by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and the need to regulate origination under the Bill had fallen away. Origination would be excluded in any event when the exclusion in the Bill was updated to refer to the in-force Financial Sector Regulation Act, rather than the repealed FSB Act.

In any event, MORCSA would submit that regulation of mortgage origination was more appropriate under the Financial Sector Regulation Act (2017) than the Bill. The product was a mortgage bond and a financial product.  The property was simply the security for the loan. Bond brokers did not give property related advice or offer property for sale of leasing;  did not receive property or sole mandates or charge fees/commissions to home buyers; or receive funds from home buyers or hold or operate trust accounts. What bond brokers do was offer a financial product regulated under section 163 of National Credit Act in regard to disclosures, and they were now regulated by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority.

If the Bill was enacted as proposed, it would create a somewhat round peg in a square hole. If originators were to be included in the Bill, which MORCSA submits they should not, be given the resultant dual regulation, then it could not be done as an afterthought. The drafters would need to include a definition of “financial transactions,” as those were clearly different to “property transactions”; a second certification that does not require trust accounts; different training requirements, i.e. financial rather than property; different transitional arrangements, as there was no existing regulation under the Estate Agents Affairs Board; different codes of conduct, as origination and real estate operate in different industries, with significantly different codes of conduct.

There was also an issue with Section 57(1) of the Bill which provides “A property practitioner may not -- (a) …(b) enter into any arrangement, formally or informally, whereby a consumer is obliged or encouraged to use a particular service provider, including an attorney, to render any service or ancillary services in respect of any transaction of which that property practitioner is the effective cause.” Origination is a pro consumer service. Originators play a valuable financial access role for consumers, provide them with home loan quotations to compare and thereby facilitate transparency and competition between lenders. Real estate agents play an important buyer education role in regard to origination.

Section 57(1)(b) of the Property Practitioners Bill would operate in a manner that had the unintended consequence of having a chilling effect on buyer education by estate agents, as there was not a bright line between “offering information” on available services and “encouraging.”   Appropriate qualifications could easily be included into section 57(1)(b) -- for example, encouraging “for reward” or “in the absence of good cause.” “Obliging” consumers should be prohibited, as that limited consumer choice. Preferably the word “induced” could be substituted for the word “encouraged”.

Discussion

The Chairperson noted that the crux of the presentation was that the sector was already regulated and there was no need for them to be regulated by the Bill. Members were invited to give their comments.

Mr M Wolramans (ANC) said that the Bill would still regulate corporations in SA like Multi Net Real Estate, and wanted to find out how this would impact MORCSA.

Ms P Mabe (ANC) said that one of the purposes of the Bill was to transform the financial services sector. Was MORCSA happy with the Bill in this aspect of trying to transform the sector? The Bill talked about economic transformation, which was what was desired.

Mr Vermeulen argued that in terms of the provisions and scope of the Bill in trying to transform the financial sector, MORCSA had no problem with the Bill. The main issues regarding the originators had been covered. MORCSA supported the Bill absolutely and its focus on seeking to transform the sector. The fact that the Bill would still regulate corporations in SA like Multi Net Real Estate did not impact MORCSA, as it had 700 members who were mostly bond brokers.

The Chairperson asked whether bond brokers could be property practitioners, even if in the future.

Mr Vermeulen replied that bond brokers did not see themselves as property practitioners. Their only connection was that they offered financial services to consumers. They were more financial practitioners.

The Chairperson thanked MORCSA and said that their concerns would be taken into consideration after the Bill had come from the Provinces.

Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA).

Ms Ciara Reintjes, Senior Professional Manager: Standards, IRBA, said the role of the IRBA was important because by promoting integrity in financial reporting and building a basis for providing confidence, auditors reduced financing costs and contributed to the efficiency of capital markets, thereby promoting economic growth.

The first clause that IRBA had an issue with was the clause on auditor accreditation. Section 53(1)(b) and (c) of the Bill required the property practitioner immediately, after opening a trust account, to appoint an auditor and provide the Authority with all the information in respect of such auditor. In consideration of the public interest, IRBA believed that this section of the Bill should be strengthened to provide for a formal but simple auditor accreditation process. Accreditation resulted in auditors becoming specialised in the rules and risks facing an industry.

The audit of trust accounts and business accounts (financial statements) as contained in the Bill was also problematic. Section 53(5) of the Bill required the property practitioner to cause his, her, its trust accounts and business accounts to be audited. IRBA agreed that both the trust accounts and business accounts of the property practitioner should be audited by the same auditor, but the Bill should differentiate between the two different types of engagements that an auditor was expected to perform, as one would most likely be a compliance engagement (trust account), the other a statutory audit against a financial reporting framework (business account).

The other clause was on the audited statement of “state of affairs”. Section 53(7) of the Bill required that the Authority may on good cause at any time order a property practitioner to submit to the Authority an audited statement prepared by the auditor, fully setting out the state of affairs of the property practitioner’s accounting records of his, her, its trust accounts set out in section 53(5)(a) of the Bill. IRBA suggests that this section clarify that the property practitioner prepare the statement of the state of affairs, and that the auditor prepare an auditor’s report thereon. Also, the nature of the engagement should be clarified, as well as the financial reporting framework to be applied.

Lastly, IRBA had an issue with the Bill’s accounting framework. Section 54(4)(a) of the Bill requires the property practitioner to keep accounting records that are necessary to fairly reflect and explain the state of affairs of the matters set out in section 54(4)(a)(i)-(iii). IRBA believes that section 54(4)(a) should be strengthened to set out what financial reporting framework should be used by the property practitioner in the preparation of his, her, its accounting records.

Discussion

The Chairperson commented that the crux of IRBA’s presentation was that they were financial auditors, and that parts of the Bill would affect their ability to perform their functions effectively. The focus was on how one could strengthen that specific area of the financial sector.

Ms Mabe said that the IRBAs’ role in trying to intensify accountability was appreciated. The only concern was that IRBA did not speak about the motivation of the Bill and whether it was acceptable the way it was. The motivations should be put in writing and submitted to Members.

Mr S Malatsi (ANC) said that it seemed that the presentation was focused only on standardisation of accounting standards, and wondered whether that was the crux of their recommendations – standardisation, so as to make sure there was uniformity in terms of reporting.

The Chairperson added that her comments were a little more controversial. Firstly, auditing by its nature was very expensive. There were property practitioners who could not manage this cost. How could IRBA manage the cost and make sure that it did not burden property practitioners? That would play a role in the transformation itself. Secondly, with firms like KPMG bringing auditing into disrepute, how did IRBA improve its role out there to make sure that they were not being looked at with suspicion?

Ms Ciara replied that IRBA had submitted a detailed comment letter in the first draft, but the same had not been done in the second round. However, as the comment letters were available, they could be easily accessed to check the motivational terms. On the comment on standardisation of accounting standards, she agreed this was a main concern -- it was important, because all auditors used the same standard rules. This then promoted integrity in financial reporting and built a basis for providing confidence, auditors reduced financing costs and contributed to the efficiency of capital markets, thereby promoting economic growth. This was what the Bill was seeking and which was transforming the sector.

With the amendment, auditors would understand what it was that they needed to do, and the audit quality would be improved and there would be consistency in the way auditors’ audit. The IRBA would be issuing a communication as some form of guidance on what exactly audit firms were supposed to do. Unfortunately, it did not play that regulatory role, and it had to adapt to each property practitioner.

On the question of cost to consumers, the IRBA and the Act had provisions for dealing with irregularities by practitioners. Consumers could also report to IRBA on any irregularities, and this was the way they were protected. Following recent events, IRBA was trying to restore confidence in the profession. There had been recent changes in the Act that had been proposed, and these include the strengthening of the investigation process, the ability to subpoena witnesses, and reducing the time of investigation, specifically on high profile cases.

Mr Malatsi wanted to find out, apart from sending publications, what the desired IRBA role was in terms of the broad nature of the Bill? It was important that these audit firms not only received this information, but were also fully compliant with them. What role did the IRBA see itself playing in ensuring that would be covered by this Bill?

The Chairperson followed up to that question by asking whether the IRBA would consider doing pro bono training for property practitioners

Ms Ciara replied that unfortunately there were audit failures, like audits which were signed with a clean bill of health when they were not. Normally, the Authority picked up any segments that were problematic and forward them to IRBA. It also fast-checked what was happening in the news, if there was a failure of a property practitioner, then an auditor was investigated by himself. The IRBA had a public interest function and its policies were to make sure that all standards were complied with. IRBA was also seeking to transform not only the Authority, but the profession.

The Bill should consider possible areas where there could be exemptions from audit. The IRBA was willing to offer guidance to property practitioners, as a pro bono service was not within its mandate. There were institutions like the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) that could provide these pro bono services and would be able to help.

The Chairperson thanked the IRBA for their presentation which was very thoughtful and would be taken under consideration, as this was an on-going engagement.

Council for Debt Collectors (CDC)

Adv Andries Cornelius, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), CDC, said the Council was grateful for this opportunity to raise issues on the new bill, which would have a devastating financial impact on South African consumers. The Bill sought to amend the Debt Collectors Act (DCA). Even though the DCA was being changed, the Council had never been consulted or engaged as a stakeholder, as could be seen from paragraph 4 of the proposed Bill. The Magistrates Court Act defined a debt as an amount that was due and payable (owed and not paid). Simply put, if one could be sued for an amount it was a debt; if not, then it was an obligation.

Debt collection was big business, with consumer debts exceeding one trillion rand in total, and the industry recovering over R30 billion a year. Collection was done through 18 000 registered debt collectors. There were many types of debts -- credit cards, store cards, school university fees, medical bills, bond defaults, rentals or levies not being paid, municipal debts, etc. This amendment implied that there was a difference between defaulting on a home loan and owing the bank, and defaulting on arrear rent payable and owing the landlord.

The recovery of fees and expenses for all debts was regulated by the Magistrates Court Act. No other act may authorise the recovery of fees for a debt. This right was contained in section 60 of that Act. Parliament, through Act 114 of 1998, had created the Council for Debt Collectors, enabling registered debt collectors to charge fees for the recovery of debts.

The purpose of the Act was twofold. The first was to exercise control over the occupation of debt collecting and the second was to legalise the recovery of fees or remuneration by registered debt collectors from debtors. The Act was assisted by regulations and a code of conduct that debt collectors must adhere to in the collection of any debts.

The definition of a debt collector was contained in section 1 and 8 of the Act. In brief, a debt collector is a person who for reward collects debts owed to another person on the latter’s behalf. Attorneys or their employees were excluded from the Act. Attorneys had their own fee structures as contained in the Magistrates Court Act and their own regulator enforcing those fees. It was clear that the legislature wanted to exclude attorneys, but not managing agents, from the DCA, otherwise it would have done so. The reason probably was that there was no fee structure or framework to regulate property managers. The new Act also does not provide for any fee structure or framework. Failure to register as a debt collector was a criminal offence and was on conviction liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years.

The first concern was that the Department of Justice had embarked on a process to remove the exclusion of attorneys from the DCA. Abuse of court processes and fees had necessitated their inclusion under the DCA. That amendment was already on the judicial programme for the year. At a time when the protection of attorneys was being removed, the Bill aimed once again to create an exemption from the DCA.

The second concern was that the Bill made no provision for any fee structure or enforcement process for the recovery of debts. It was standard legislative procedure that fees were prescribed by regulations promulgated in terms of an enabling act. However, here there was no enabling provision in the Bill, and any regulations promulgated in the absence of an appropriate enabling clause would be ultra vires. There was no provision made for a Code of Conduct for debt collection in the Bill. Section 61 created no sanctionable offence for abuses when recovering debts. No change in the Magistrates Court Act had been provided, meaning that every property practitioner collecting arrear rent and levies and charging a fee would then be committing a criminal offence.

The third concern was that the DCA specifically provides that it had jurisdiction over every person who was concerned with debt collecting. It was a criminal offence not to be registered, and once registered, the Act, regulations and code of conduct were binding on such a person. The Bill appeared to exclude those employees who merely collected and received monies payable on a lease. This in effect would mean that the employees demanding the arrear amounts would not be considered a property practitioner, and would fall outside the ambit of that Bill and would in effect then be unregulated.

Another concern was that the enactment of the Debt Collectors Act had emanated from a report by the Law Reform Commission. Mr Cornelius pointed out that debt recovery by extra judicial institutions was a worldwide phenomenon. The provisions of the DCA had been crafted and aligned with the requirements to regulate the registration and activities of those who collect debts. The Bill was for different reasons, and therefore not aligned with the requirements necessary to regulate the recovery of debt.

In conclusion, the amendment would have a severely negative impact on consumers. The actions of managing agents and their employees, as well as the fees they charge, would become unregulated and lead to the exploitation of consumers who had fallen behind on the payment of rent and levies.

Discussion

The Chairperson said the crux of the Council for Debt Collectors’ presentation was that the debt collectors were already regulated and contributed a lot to the economy, so they should not be regulated by the Bill. If one looked at the definition of a property practitioner as it was in the Bill, did the CDC feel that a debt collector was not covered by this definition? In their own Act, would this Bill enhance their profession if they were members of, or defined as, property practitioners? This was because the Bill was talking about transformation of the sector. The reality of the situation was that the property sector was hugely disadvantaged. That was something that was out there, and everybody knew it. What the Bill was trying to do was to transform it. Was the CDC comfortable with the debt collectors and where they are? Would it not be better to be defined as property practitioners?

Mr Cornelius replied that the requirements were different, because these were two different spheres of business. Property practitioners were completely outside the jurisdiction of the Council’s regulations. The purpose of the Act was twofold. The first was to exercise control over the occupation of debt collecting, and the second was to legalise the recovery of fees or remuneration by registered debt collectors from debtors. In brief, a debt collector was a person who for reward collected debts owed to another person on the latter’s behalf. A property practitioner, on the other hand, was someone who managed property and had nothing to do with recovery of debts. The recovery of debts was very small in the definition of what property practitioners did.

The DCA specifically provided that it had jurisdiction over every person who was concerned with debt collecting. The Bill sought to exclude attorneys from the application of the Bill. It also appeared to exclude those employees who merely collected and received monies payable on a lease. This in effect would mean that the employees demanding the arrear amounts would not be considered a property practitioner, and fell outside the ambit of that Bill and would in effect then be unregulated.

The Chairperson asked whether the Council was sure that the money that debt collectors generated was only debt money. This was because out there, ordinary South Africans were still paying exorbitant amounts collected by debt collectors. Even if one thought that debt collectors were in their own way being regulated, people were still paying exorbitant amounts. Most South Africans did not know where to go and complain. Was the CDC sure that it was doing enough consumer education on when and where consumers should go when they got into such a situation?

Mr Cornelius replied that there was a general misconception among South Africans and what they read in the press. Managing agents had long held the belief that they were not debt collectors for arrear rent and levies, and not bound by the limitation of fees contained in the DCA. They often referred to these collections as the goose that laid the golden eggs. Council had received stacks of complaints against the fees and methods being used by these collectors, and in 2007 had decided to charge a managing agent (Brunello). This had been the first managing agent charged in 2007 for not being a registered debt collector, and charging fees not allowed for by the DCA, like telephone calls. This exploitation of consumers ended with a guilty verdict and sentence, and thereafter it had forced managing agents to comply with the fees and methods as stipulated by the DCA. After the Brunello judgment, the National Association of Managing Agents (NAMA) had applied to the Minister of Justice for an exemption from the DCA. NAMA had accepted the fact that managing agents at certain stages, when they recovered arrear rent and levies, were acting as debt collectors. The parties agreed that the recovery of arrear rent and levies for reward placed those managing agents squarely under the DCA. An agreement was reached between the parties to address some of the practical issues around the use of trust accounts, and NAMA had subsequently withdrawn their application for exemption. Managing agents who collect arrear rent and levies for reward had been registered as debt collectors since then, and had been complying with the prescribed fees and rules.

Mr Wolmarans said that there seemed to have been a cross over between attorneys and managing agents. There was now consensus that managing agents who collected debt could fall under the DCA. For reasons of a financial nature, most managing agents were actually attorneys. What was the Council’s view with regard to this Bill and the attorney managing agents falling into the category of debt collectors?

Mr Cornelius replied that the DCA specifically provided that it had jurisdiction over every person who was concerned with debt collecting. On the other hand, the Bill appeared to exclude attorneys and those employees who merely collected and received monies payable on a lease. This in effect would mean that the attorneys and employees demanding the arrear amounts would not be considered a property practitioner, and fell outside the ambit of that Bill and would in effect then be unregulated. This was very disturbing, and that was why these proposals to have this excluded from the Bill were being raised.

The Chairperson noted that there were no other comments from Members, and thanked the Council for coming to present to the Committee on its views.

South African Council for the Property Valuers Profession (SACPVP)

Mr Charles Seota, Registrar: SACPVP, said the Council’s major objectives were to provide for the registration of professionals, candidates and persons/valuers in specified categories, to protect the public against improper conduct of valuers, and to Identify types of property work which may be performed by each category of registered persons.

SACPVP’s main contention with the Bill was the definition of a property practitioner. In the Bill, “property practitioner” meant any person or business that assesses property to determine defects, value for money and fit for use, as part of the conclusion. A property valuer values, evaluates, appraises or assesses property.  Use of these words depended on the country or preference of the speaker. They meant the same where property was the object in the sentence. In law, unless the word “assess” was defined in this Bill, the ordinary or dictionary meaning would be used. The ordinary meaning of assess in the context of property included to make a judgment about property, or to officially tell or determine the amount or value of property. 

The SACPVP submitted that the definition of a property practitioner in the Bill should exclude the phrase “assesses property to determine value for money”. It suggests that an alternative to obviate the inclusion of property valuers in this Bill could be to exclude them in section 1(a)(vi), where attorneys and sheriffs were excluded, by inserting (ee) -- a registered person as defined in section 1 of the Property Valuers Profession Act, 2000 (Act No. 47 of 2000). This section could be paraphrased as ‘’a professional valuer, a professional associated valuer, a candidate valuer or a person registered in specified categories prescribed by the South African Council for the  Property Valuers Profession”. SACPVP asserteds that if the definition was left as is, it would be an intended confusion to an ordinary person, alternatively permission for a property practitioner to perform valuation work without being registered as a property valuer.

At its meeting in July 2017 with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), the Board had stressed that the Bill was not intended to include property valuers who, by their own right were governed by the Property Valuers Profession Act, 2000 (Act No. 47 of 2000) (PVP Act). The intention of Parliament, in legislating the valuers’ profession, was that only qualified valuers should undertake valuation work and that the SACPVP should ensure that it registered competent valuers to perform valuation. SACPVP’s view was that the Bill should avoid deliberate or unintended confusion and cannibalisation of the property valuers’ profession.

On regulatory responsibilities, the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority must not have the authority to discipline a person, including a property practitioner, who was incompetent to assess or value property. If so, two regulatory bodies would be involved in the same mandate, which was clearly not the intention of any legislative regime in any country. Was it not the responsibility of Parliament to ensure that the country’s suite of laws, especially the new order legislation, were aligned to guide professionals and to protect the public, but not to confuse the public?

Discussion

The Chairperson thanked the Registrar for the presentation and joked that the Council was trying to confuse Members about the difference between a property valuer and a property practitioner. On the cost to consumers of property valuers, was it affordable? This was because when most people went to buy property, they did not know whether property valuers existed. What was the Council’s role and how did it make sure that the community out there knew about it? She was not referring to their regular clientele like the banks, because this was a big business, but how was a person buying a house as a first time buyer going to be served by the Council? The Bill was trying to put in place an assessor who would be cost affordable, and not just anybody. Most of the time South Africans bought properties without knowing valuers were there, because the SACPVP did not assist. How would it assist the ordinary man?

Mr Malatsi said that one of the key contentions with the Bill was the application of valuers. What was the meaning of the Council’s particular choice of words, ‘cannibalisation’ of the industry? The language was a bit strong. This was because the broad issue had not been tabled in terms of its authenticity of content.

Mr P Khoarai (ANC) wanted clarity on the last statement of the presentation, about Parliament enacting laws to confuse the public.

Mr Wolmarans also had an issue with not only the language, but the last statement of the presentation, which he found rather sarcastic. That was the reason why the presenter had tried to speak more politely when he spoke on this issue. To what extent would the valuers play a role in transforming the industry? The valuers’ report was very cagey about that, and banks were also cagey about it. Valuers worked with banks, and there was a cost charged to sellers and buyers, and commission by the banks. A lot of people had gone to court over this. The Council’s part in transforming that section should be clarified.

The Chairperson referred to the transformation of the organisation, and asked whether there had been any changes. This was because in 2016, it had about 2 103 valuers in its register, and of those, 1 611 had been males and 492 were females. Of the 1 611, 1 164 were whites. Blacks were 293, India 71 and coloureds 63. This was being raised in the context of what the Bill sought to achieve, which was to transform the sector. In the context of the presentation, was the Council comfortable that it was doing well in terms of transforming the organisation? Was it comfortable that it was serving the people of South Africa well? Was it comfortable that if it were left out of the Bill, its sector would be transformed?

Mr Seota said that transformation through the Bill was desirous. As a matter of fact, the vision of the SACPVP was to create a transformed property valuers’ profession that delivered world class valuation services. Its mission was to provide professionalism and high standards of competency in the profession; to provide guidelines for education and continuing education and training (CET); to promote access to the profession by all citizens; to provide awareness of valuation services to all; and to make valuation a profession of choice.

As part of transformation, it was aimed that entries to all citizens were removed, including the historically disadvantaged. The SACPVP had winter schools, for example, so as to create awareness to people about who it was and what it did. As for the choice of words, they might be a little harsh, but the meaning was that the Bill should not be intended to confuse the industry, and should be clarified to avoid this.

The SACPVP had a history. Its relationship with property practitioners could be compared to the relationship between a doctor and nurse -- the two were interrelated but totally different. Their roles were clear as to who did what. When the Bill traversed into the valuers’ zone, then it became a challenge.

Regarding the demographic breakdown of members, indeed it was true that when the SACPVP came, it found a legacy. What it had been trying to do was to ameliorate that situation. If it said that its only aim was to make sure that the number of blacks today outnumbered the number of whites, then this did not cover the whole of transformation.

The Chairperson thanked the SACPVP for their submissions, and noted that they would be considered once the Bill came back from Provinces.

South African Institute of Chartered Accountants

Mr William Botha, Senior Executive: Assurance and Practice, South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) said the Institute was not opposed to the Bill at all, and considered that it was in fact a brilliant transformative idea. SAICA’s submissions were in relation to trust accounts, business accounts, and other changes related to audit and transitional provisions.

On trust accounts, the issue was with the Bill’s clauses on their administration. S53(5) required accounting records to be kept and administered. There were also refinements needed in audit requirements relating to the trust accounts. Detailed amendments were suggested to S53, which included that an auditor had to express an assurance conclusion on whether the trust accounts of the property practitioner for the financial year under consideration had been maintained, in all material respects, in accordance with sections 53(1)(a), 53(1)(b), 53(1)(c), 53(1)(d), 53(2), 53(3), 53(5)(a), 53(5)(b), 53(5)(c), 53(10), 53(11), 53(15), 54(1), 54(2). In terms of the above, the auditor should comply with the auditing pronouncements in terms of the Auditing Profession Act.

On business accounts, the issue was also on their administration. In S54(4), clarity was required that records should be kept in respect of the business, and excluded personal assets / liabilities. Preparation of financial statements should be required, in accordance with a recognised financial reporting framework (or a basis of accounting determined by the property practitioner). The auditor could not audit and report on the business accounting records (S54(4)(b)). An audit of the financial statements should be required.

Other changes related to audit which were necessary to look at included:

  • The definition of accounting records which were required for trust and business accounts;
  • A recognised financial reporting framework, whether International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) or IFRS for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), because there should be an entity-specific basis of accounting;
  • In property practitioners, managing agents were excluded in certain subsections of the definition. The result was that managing agents would not be regulated.

There were also additional definitions listed in the SAICA comment letter. Other matters included were that the method of appointing auditors should be prescribed; the term ‘Auditor’s report’ should be used throughout; and lastly, there should be a clarification of audit requirements in respect of S53(8).

On transitional provisions, as provided for in S75 (6), there was a provision that all regulations must remain in full force and effect. This was not practical, because these regulations were drafted from a specific viewpoint of the extant Act. Some requirements per the regulations had not been transferred to the Bill, therefore the regulations could not be enforced. The list of such regulations was included in the SAICA comment letter. Lastly, on effective date, this should be defined, as property practitioners would need a period in which to transition to the Bill.

Discussion

The Chairperson commented that the crux of the presentation was that there were some areas that SAICA were concerned with, but they were not opposed to the Bill. Their concern was with trust accounts, business accounts, other changes related to audit and transitional provisions. On trust accounts, the issue was with the Bill requiring accounting records to be kept and administered. The Committee knew that managing agents had been excluded from the Bill, and it had also been raised here. Otherwise, there was general acceptance of the approach of the Bill. The presentation of SAICA seemed more balanced in giving support to the amendments. There were no comments from Members, who seemed to be very happy with SAICA’s presentation.

Mr Botha said that SAICA had been conducting civic education. It had provided a lot of informative sessions earlier this year to the public, and this had included property practitioners. This information included guidelines to chartered accountants who were property practitioners. They would keep that part of the operation going, in line with the transformative nature of the Bill.

The Chairperson appreciated their recommendations, and said if they were willing to assist the property practitioners, it would go a long way in transforming the industry.

Banking Association of South Africa (BASA)

Mr Pierre Venter, General Manager: Banking Association of South Africa (BASA), said BASA was an industry body representing all banks registered in terms of the Banks Act, No. 94 of 1990, and operating in South Africa. It had 35 member banks, which included both South African and international banks. All licensed banks were members of the Association.

The Association publicly promoted the need for all property intermediaries to be regulated, as it believed that this was in the interests of the public. It was therefore favourably disposed towards the Bill, and would like to add its support. It recognised and supported the need for the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) to transform the property sector, and was pleased to note the inclusion of capacity building and training support that the DHS intended providing to Black intermediaries and home owners alike. It believed that such capacity building and training should, however, be extended to include the rental market.

In respect of Clause (K), BASA was of the view that there was as pressing a need for tenants to also be included within the scope of training, which the DHS envisaged fulfilling. Care should, however, be taken not to duplicate the role of the Office of the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS), as one of the roles which this office envisages is the provision of training for both body corporate trustees and sectional title owners alike. BASA recommends that this clause within the Bill be amplified to include the need for tenant education and to integrate training with the Office of the CSOS.

The Association welcomed the inclusive list of “property practitioners” as defined in the Bill. However, it felt that the wording for the two categories of “property practitioners” as defined in the Bill required re-definition. These were Clause (a)(i): sheriffs were regulated by the Sheriffs Act, 90 of 1986, the amendments thereto, as well as by specific regulations and a code of conduct relating to this Act. The clause relating to (a)(i) should therefore exclude sheriffs from being included within the definition of “property practitioners”. By including the words “sale in execution,” this implies that sheriffs were included within the definition of a “property practitioner”. Sheriffs were appointed by the courts to fulfill this role. No private sector intermediaries (auctioneers) were entitled to fulfill this function -- they may only conduct a voluntary auction sale.

The definition of a “property practitioner” consistently referred to persons executing actions in respect of property or "any business undertaking". No definition for business undertaking appears in the draft Bill. BASA recommends that the clause should read as follows: “…by auction or otherwise…” It recommends that this section include a definition of “business undertaking”.

The wording of Clause (a)(v) could be read to include bank property assessors, although the Chair of the EAAB at the Gauteng public hearings had indicated otherwise. There were two distinct types of assessors -- those who acted on behalf of a buyer/seller, and those who represented a mortgagee, a municipal valuer or the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). BASA supports that a property assessor who acts on behalf of a buyer/seller in order to “determine the defects, value for money and fit for use as part of the conclusion of an agreement to sell and purchase, or hire or let a property,” should be included as a regulated intermediary, as this would safeguard the public. A property assessor who was appointed by a mortgagee to assess a property undertakes this task solely for the mortgagee, where his/her assessment was purely to determine the suitability of the property for mortgagee security purposes. There was therefore no need for a mortgagee-appointed property assessor to be governed by this Bill.

Property assessors were governed by the SACPVP. BASA recommends that the wording of this clause be altered to expressly exclude the need for bank-appointed property assessors to be governed by this Bill. It recommends that the DHS engages with executives who oversee both the SACPVP and the Built Environment Act, so as to ensure that this Bill does not conflict/duplicate with their roles and/or create the need for compliance with two codes of conduct.

On Section 23, on the lodging of complaints to the Ombud’s office, BASA recommends that the scope of the Ombud’s office should be extended to include hearing industry complaints against the Property Practitioners Board, especially where matters were not being resolved that were affecting the ability of a practitioner to continue operating and, through extension, the livelihood of the practitioners in that agency become affected. This would also ensure that there was a balance in respect of the role that the Ombud’s Office fulfils. It recommended that an additional clause, as suggested above, be included within this section of the Bill.

On Section 25 on Adjudication, BASA welcomed an adjudication process, as this may reduce the burden of having to resort to the courts. There were two matters of concern. The Bill did not make mention of a time limit that dictated the length of a matter in the adjudication process. This could hinder a fair and just adjudication process, as a dispute could be held up indefinitely, due to an order being withheld. There was also the clause on non-recognition provided in Section 34 of the Constitution of South Africa. The Bill indicates that an adjudicator’s order could be referred back to the Ombud for final adjudication. However, the Bill makes no mention of a consumer’s right of recourse to the court’s in the event of their being unhappy with the decision of the Ombud.

Further, BASA had an issue with Section 46 on Fidelity Fund Certificates, which proposes that a property practitioner must apply annually for a fidelity fund certificate and pay the prescribed annual fee. In instances where “the property practitioner was a company, every director of the company would be required to be in possession of a certificate.” The same applied to all members of a close corporation, all trustees of a trust, and all partners of a partnership. This requirement would place an undue burden on all directors/members/trustees/partners to possess a fidelity certificate, as such entities employ specialists to fulfil particular roles without their having any knowledge of the property industry – for example, property investment entities. BASA recommends that at least one director/member/trustee/partner should be required to be in possession of a fidelity fund certificate only.

In Section 53 on trusts, in terms of regulations in support of the Banks Act, a bank may not open a trust account for a “property practitioner” unless they were registered with the Property Practitioners Board. Clause 53(1)(b) was therefore incorrect, as it should require a property practitioner to register with the Property Practitioners Board, and to approach a bank only thereafter for a trust account to be opened. BASA recommends that Clause 53(1)(b) be amended accordingly. This includes the need for the Property Practitioners Board to approve the descriptor name that the property practitioner intends using for the trust account.

In Section 69(4) on Property Sector Transformation, BASA was supportive of transformation within the property sector, including property intermediaries. The wording within clauses 69 (3) and 69 (4) go beyond the intent of the Bill, which was to regulate and transform the property intermediary sector. The creation of a transformation fund should be restricted to expenditure used to transform property practitioners operating within the sector, including up-skilling potential homeowners and property practitioners. The purpose of the transformation fund should be to provide opportunities for historically disadvantaged individuals, including women and youths, to become property practitioners and thereafter to be able to compete with their established competitors. BASA recommends that clauses 69(3) and (4) be amended accordingly.

Lastly, there were some technical recommendations. In Section 6 – Functions of Authority -- it refers to estate agents in clauses (a), (b) and (e). However, this was inconsistent with the Bill as the purpose was to regulate property practitioners, and not only estate agents. BASA recommends that “estate agent” be replaced with “property practitioner” in clauses in this section.

In Section 54, on the “Duty of Property Practitioners to Keep Accounting Records and Other Documents,” Clause 1 (g) defines a record as meaning “any recorded information, regardless of form or medium”. The clauses do not specifically mention/deal with “accounting records,” but rather other documents only. BASA recommends that two sections be created -- a section dealing with records and a separate section dealing with accounting records. The clauses of Section 54 could then be allocated either to the Section referring to general records, or to the Section specifically dealing with accounting records.

In Section 65, “Prohibition on Conduct to Influence Issue of Certain Certificates,” BASA submits that the list is incomplete, as property owners were compelled by legislation to provide a certificate which confirmed that gas and security electrical fencing was compliant. BASA recommends that a clause (d) and (e) be added to this section of the Bill to include gas and security electrical fencing.

Lastly, as general submission, the Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 contains a definition of an estate agent.  This would impact Schedule 1 of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 (FICA), which describes estate agents as defined in the Estate Agency Affairs Act 112 of 1967. As the Bill would repeal the Estate Agency Affairs Act, FICA would require amendment. BASA recommends that the Estate Agency Affairs Board approach the Financial Intelligence Centre, highlighting that those changes would need to be made to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act once this Act was promulgated.

BASA further welcomes the inclusion of mortgage origination in the ambit of the Bill, which was positive for the industry. It mentioned that when a code of conduct was created, as envisaged in the Bill -- particularly as it pertained to origination -- it may be well served to review the mortgage origination framework in the United Kingdom, which was considered to be an example of a well-regulated origination industry.

Whilst BASA had highlighted a number of aspects within the Bill which it believed needed to be addressed, it was fully supportive of its strategic intent.

The Chairperson thanked the presenter for the presentation. The broad areas that had been covered were actually good recommendations, especially on the adjudication process.Their concerns would be taken into consideration after the Bill had come from the Provinces.

Centre for Affordable Housing Finance (CAHF).

Ms Alison Tshangana, Head of Research and Market Intelligence, CAHF, said CAHF was a non-profit organisation established in 2014 which sought to enable and provide affordable housing systems. CAHF was concerned about four areas: consumer protection, and the role of the Ombud; applying transformation objectives to the informal sector; definitions and obligations of property practitioners; and monitoring and reporting.

On consumer protection, and the role of the Ombud, consumer protection was a critical and welcomed feature of the Bill. The property markets required that buyers and sellers had trust in the institutional arrangements. At the high end of the market, these formal processes functioned fairly, but at the low end there was considerably less trust and understanding of formal processes, and these processes were not functioning as effectively. Consumer education and consumer protection measures were needed to encourage trust in formal markets. Consumers did not understand the word 'Ombud’, had not heard about specific ombuds, and did not understand their role or how to access their services. CAHF proposed that for the Property Practitioners Ornbud to gain real traction in the market and to bolster consumer trust in formal mechanisms, there would need to be significant concerted investment in marketing and awareness-building campaigns to get the word out. In addition, consumers needed to be able to access the services of the ombud via multiple channels.

Applying the transformation objective to the informal sector, the transformation objective of the Bill was fundamentally important and welcomed. However, it focused too narrowly on altering the profile of estate agents. Transformation also meant improving access to formal estate agents in historically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Formal\informal estate agents operating in township areas served an important role facilitating transactions, especially in areas which were not serviced by formal agents. Aside from these entities, various organisations in lower income areas provide property-related services. Street committees and other community organisations might be called upon to facilitate or record property market transactions, often for a small fee. Therefore CAHF proposed that while it was important to regulate informal agents in order to protect the rights of the consumer, it was also important to ensure that the Bill ultimately improved access to formal estate agents at the low end of the market and did not create unintended consequences by simply penalising and eliminating informal agents. The Bill must provide a clear pathway for informal agents to become formal, thus improving consumer access to formal estate agents in township areas. Increased focus was needed on monitoring which areas were served by registered and regulated property practitioners, and how this expands over time.

CAHF supports the broad definition of property practitioners because it ensures adherence by entire sector goals for transformation and the achievement of effective, functioning property markets. However, requirements put upon property practitioners should be appropriately suited to their function and role in property markets, and not applied blanket fashion. While the Bill provides for 'the Authority to exempt property practitioners from these requirements,’ it does not state clearly on what grounds or basis one may apply for exemption. (Section 4(5) specifies cases where the Authority may not grant exemption). Therefore the CAHF proposes that the Bill specifically calls for the Minister to issue regulations which segment property practitioners according to the role they play in the process, and specify applicable requirements for each sub-category where appropriate, while ensuring all property practitioners adhere to the code of conduct. A clause be inserted into Section 4 to identify, in broad terms, the basis or grounds under which property practitioners may apply for exemption.

The regulatory authority plays a critical role in monitoring and reporting in several areas. These include consumer complaints and matters brought before the Ombud; the profile and type of property practitioners (in line with its mandate to transform the sector); and the activity of property practitioners, specifically where they operate. The CAHF proposes, in line with Sec. 69(3)(a) and (b), that the Authority should specifically include a geographic lens through which to assess transformation, with a focus on areas that have been under-serviced. Cases handled by the Ombud must be reported to the Minister, to enable the monitoring of trends from a transformation perspective. Data on types of cases, their by area, should be made publicly available.

The CAHF supports the Bill and its transformation objective, while emphasising the following two critical points: Transformation of the sector must not be limited to the changing of formal estate agents. The Bill must also include measures to increase the number of formal estate agents operating at the end of the market in historically disadvantaged areas, and strong consumer education initiatives aimed at increasing trust and utilisation of formal processes by lower end consumers. The Bill must put greater emphasis and specificity on the creation of a clear pathway for informal agents to become formal. Pursuit of a narrowly regulatory approach risks negative unintended consequences felt by consumers at the low end of the market.

Discussion

The Chairperson thanked CAHF for their thorough presentation, which had some good submissions regarding various areas. The main point is that transformation of the industry should not just benefit a few but also benefit the historically disadvantaged especially black people and informal estate agents. Transformation, especially in organisations in lower income areas, street committees and other community organisations, was part of what the Bill was aiming to do. The crux is that the Bill is generally supported but there are some areas of concern. Members were invited to give their comments.

Mrs P Mabe (ANC) indicated that they supported the proposals by CAHF with regard to the Ombduds but wished to disagree on one point, which was that it was not that people are unaware of the services of the Ombuds. The issue instead was that there was a general feeling of lack of impartiality on the part of Ombuds and Ombudsman were too often unwilling to take tough decisions. The Ombuds must work fairly and not take biased decisions in favour of the banks.

The Chairperson stated that the presentation was quite uplifting. The role of the CAHF is mobilizing and advocacy and trying to make sure that at least it is able to offer free services to the people that need them. At the end of the day, you are playing more of an advocacy role. This is something that should be encouraged and appreciated. It is hoped that CAHF will have their footprint everywhere in all provinces.

Ms Tshangana replied that CAHF—through the Transaction Support Centre in Khayelitsha—was providing technical assistance and advice to community members to make it easier to buy and sell properties formally. Consumer education and consumer protection measures were needed to encourage trust in formal markets. Further, she acknowledged and agreed with the comment regarding the Ombuds and also replied that the vision of the Bill, to create a transformed estate agents profession, was a very good idea. There was a need to promote access to the profession by all citizens, especially to those in township areas where few formal estate agents operate.

The Chairperson summarised the input of CAHF to say that the organisation was essentially playing an advocacy and capacity-building role to ensure the low end of the market also had access to the services which enabled formal transactions of property. CAHF thus played a role in bridging the market. CAHF’s Transaction Support Centre, which is currently in the pilot phase, should be encouraged and ideally rolled out to all provinces so that it has a footprint throughout the country. She noted that there were no other comments from Members and thanked CAHF for coming to present to the Committee on its views and submission.

Black Property Practitioners Association (BPPA).

Mr T Sahluko, Executive Member, BPPA, presented its contributions to the Bill, focusing specifically on their areas of dissatisfaction.

Firstly, the Bill did not utilise any of its services. Instead, it had become very academic and there were no provisions made for the poor black people. These were the people who could not afford to pay the fees which were very expensive for them. They often got the blueprint of information without being engaged in decision-making, and instead they always got instructions from white people in authority. They were never subsidised, as whites were, to do training or to do promotions among the black communities so as to recruit more black practitioners into the industry.

The government did not promote this sector at all. Government mentorships were needed among the black communities. There had to be a plan of engagement in the programmes of action to transform. the industry. It was very urgent that government introduce incubation programmes, capacity building and skills development in particular, for black people only. Why was the property sector not included in the school syllabus so that they could grow with it and be skilled and become experts of the industry? When would black people manage government properties? As disadvantaged communities, blacks need to be compensated by being given amnesty so that they could be at the same level as white communities. There must be a structure for monitoring to make sure of smooth progress and development.

Discussion

The Chairperson noted that the concerns of the black property practitioners was that due to their being historically disadvantaged, they lacked the capacity and skills to compete at the same level, even with the enactment of the Bill. As much as there was talk about transformation, what exactly was it were they proposing with specific clauses of the Bill, or where they okay with it? The chairperson of the BPPA had not spoken and should speak.

Mr Wiseman Masilo, Chairperson: BPPA, replied that the Association’s proposals were that there was a need for effective transformation in the property sector. Property was one of the growth sectors in the South Africa, and despite the recent downturn in the world economy, it remained a beacon of hope within the economy. It was unfortunate that only a small percentage of the community benefited, while the majority who make up the disadvantaged communities do not.

The BPPA agreed that there remained serious challenges facing the industry. Less than 6 % of estate agencies were owned by blacks, who collectively earned less than 1 % of the estimated R2,6 billion in commission from the residential sector in 2016. Black real estate practitioners remained frustrated and were not sufficiently exposed to opportunities within the property Industry. This impediment also prohibited them from obtaining sufficient knowledge and expertise to compete effectively. It was a myth that barriers to enter the property Industry were low, and that all practitioners needed to do was to be able to sustain themselves financially for the first few months of operations. For the majority of black real estate practitioners, this was not possible. There was need to give blacks amnesty in terms of the Bill in order for them to overcome all barriers of entry.

Mr Sahluko added that it was necessary to remove barriers to entry because of the onerous and stringent requirements for emerging agents. Transformation must not focus on solely shares within established, mostly white-owned large companies, but also blacks. Whilst the BPPA supported the Bill and think this should be a requirement in the eventual Act, it proposed that Members should look into these issues with a keen eye in order to accelerate transformation.

Mr Wolmarans said that the BPPA suggestions were welcome. Their inputs would be taken into consideration. Everyone was in agreement that in this day and age, a sector that contributes in excess of 15% of the country’s gross domestic product was not adequately transformed. At the centre of the engagements was the need to remove impediments for the entry and sustainability of the previously disadvantaged property businesses.

Ms Mabe added that Members had become aware of issues that would require further consideration by the Committee and the Department.

The Chairperson said that factors like auditing fees, which were a barrier to entry, and other matters would be given due attention to make sure that the historically disadvantaged benefit, as was the Bill’s intention.

Archicheck

Mr Sheldon Jennings, Professional Architect, and owner of both Archimedes Design and Archicheck, briefed Members on property inspections and information by architects.

The first concern involved the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). It was in the interest of consumer protection that the overlap between SACAP and the newly proposed PPRA members and their roles needed to be addressed. The issue of non-qualified property inspectors needed to be addressed; the forced compliance and self-regulation of existing property inspection firms and education bodies urgently needed to be addressed; and lastly, tertiary education and recognised qualifications were required for property inspectors. Currently in South Africa, there was neither formal training nor legislation to regulate the home/property inspection industry. Anyone could become an inspector, regardless of their qualification. This puts South African consumers at great risk. In the interests of consumer protection, and due to the current lack of regulated, certified and legitimate property inspectors in South Africa, SACAP had decided to launch Archicheck.

Archicheck was a property inspection company which, in the interests of consumer protection, hired only SACAP registered, professional architects to perform property inspections. SACAP registered architects conduct high quality property inspections and compile comprehensive reports on all property types. It provides clients with crucial information on any property in South Africa, allowing investors to make informed decisions. SACAP was established in 1971, had over 10 000 registered architectural candidates and professionals, and was recognised by the Council for the Built Environment (CBE). Professional architects undergo rigorous training at accredited universities in South Africa. SACAP governs architects in the interest of protecting the public. To be registered with SACAP as a professional architect, one must complete the required training at an internationally recognised institution of higher learning, and complete a minimum of two years of practical work as a candidate architect.

Archicheck hires only SACAP registered professional architects to perform property inspections, because architects were at the helm of the design and construction team. Architectural professionals were the most capable of all to deliver the most comprehensive and accurate property inspections possible. As highly and broadly qualified professionals, qualified architects were capable of determining structural faults and their causes; general aesthetic defaults; provide thorough ironmongery analysis; and were among the only professionals that were trained, equipped and authorised to provide solutions to problems in buildings. SACAP had the power to govern and regulate the architectural profession. Architects registered with SACAP pay annual licensing and registration fees, and also adhere to SACAP’s strict continued professional development (CPD) point structure.

As such, SACAP proposes the following amendments to the Property Practitioners Bill:

First, that SACAP registered architects be exempt from paying additional licensing fees to the proposed Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA), or allow them to be exempt from needing to register with an additional regulatory body (PPRA / National Association of Building Inspectors of South Africa ( NABISA)).

Second, the expansion of Chapter 1 (Definitions) so that “property practitioner” would include SACAP-registered architects whose scope of work includes the inspection of buildings/property, or the expansion of Chapter 1 (Exemption) to exempt SACAP-registered architects from registering with the PPRA.

Third, that all property inspectors be required by law to go through certified training at a regulated tertiary institution. To make this viable financially, such a course would be comprised of existing modules which were already offered at universities across South Africa, including courses such as property economics, detailing and construction techniques, professional practice, theory and practice of construction, introduction to structures and structural engineering theory.

Fourth was Chapter 8 -- 46(1), so as to exclude SACAP-registered architects from needing to apply for a Fidelity Fund Certificate, as this would not apply to architects who solely performed property inspections.

Fifth was Chapter 8 – 53(1), which dealt with trust accounts, to exclude SACAP-registered architects, as this would not apply to architects who solely performed property inspections.

Discussion

The Chairperson commented that the crux of the presentation was that Archicheck had no issue with the Bill, and the main concern was just the issue of the code of conduct. What was “HouseCheck” that was referred to in the presentation?

Mr Sheldon replied that Housecheck was an existing inspection firm. The reason he had not talked about it was because he did not want it to go on record. This was a firm which was self-regulating. They had established their own education programmes to certify their own employees, which was a huge conflict of interest in itself, Additionally, their education programmes, such as the South African Home Inspection Training Academy (SAHITA) were self-certified by Housecheck and by an unreliable international association which was not held to any standard of education recognised in South Africa, namely the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

Mr Malatsi wanted clarification on the comment about the lack of regulation in the industry. What was the reason for this -- was it a lack of enforcement? Or was it that people knew how to circumvent the regulations? It could be that people had been in the industry for a long time, so they had mastered the loopholes and were exploiting them. What was the issue of compliance that Archcheck had proactively presented?

The Chairperson wanted to find out whether Archicheck would be willing to provide free consumer awareness programmes, in line with playing a role in the transformation of the industry.

Mr Sheldon replied that the issue was that this placed consumers at risk. For instance, Housecheck claimed accreditation via SAHITA; SAHITA claimed accreditation via Housecheck and InterNACHI; and InterNACHI claimed to educate property inspectors -- but there was no accreditation linked to their courses. Anyone could apply, even without a primary school level of education. There was no alignment to South African standards of education, and InterNACHI was not recognised by any governing body in South Africa. InterNACHI had no accreditation and should have no bearing on the accreditation of South African inspection certifications or training programmes. South African consumers needed protection from under-qualified and incompetent inspectors, as well as protection against false advertising, as currently seen with some firms.

On the issue of pro bono services, Archicheck was willing to provide information to anyone who needed it because there was need to transform the sector to the benefit of all, and especially the consumers.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Sheldon for the presentation and noted that his concerns would be taken into consideration.

Adams and Adams

Mr Andre Visser, Partner: Adams and Adams Attorneys, said the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) had been established and registered in March 2000 in terms of the Skills Development Act (SDA) of 1998 and was responsible for the disbursement of the training levies payable by all employers in South Africa. These levies were collected by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) via the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and were disbursed through a management system motivated by skills requirement assessment and monitoring. The Services SETA was thus mandated to ensure that the skill requirements of the services sector were identified and that adequate and appropriate skills were readily available.

Adams and Adams main concerns were in respect of the provision of education and training of practitioners, and the authorisation of grants, as these were two functions that the Services SETA already performed in the property sector, as they have been mandated to do so by the SDA, and they already had the necessary infrastructure and systems in place to carry out that mandate. Therefore, including such provisions in the Bill amounted to an overlap of powers in the property sector and would lead to unnecessary conflict. Under the current Estate Agents Act (EAA), there was also an overlap, but given that the current EAA only governed a small group, it had had a limited impact and there was currently an internal arrangement between the EEAB and the Services SETA to manage this. This internal agreement would, however, fall away should this Bill be enacted in its current format and the impact would be far greater, as the scope of the property practitioners was far wider.

The objects of the Act contained in section 3, stated in sub-section (f)(i) of the Act, was to provide for the education, training and development of property practitioners and candidate property practitioners. The term 'provide' was of particular concern to the Services SETA, as this was in direct conflict with its rights to provide qualifications in terms of section 10 of the SDA. The Bill was unclear as to who would provide this training, and allowed for the Board to advise the Minister on the education and training of property practitioners in section 9 (g). Providing for education, training and development was a function already being performed by the Services SETA, and to subsequently provide such a mandate to another body via this Bill would lead to a conflict of jurisdiction in respect of the exercise of this power, and there would clearly be an overlap of powers.

The authorisation of grants in terms of section 38 sub-section (1), by the Board, was also a mandate which fell within the scope of the Services SETA's area of practice. Section 10 sets out the functions of the Services SETA as follows, in terms of sub-section (1) (b) (iii): "A SETA must, in accordance with any requirements that may be prescribed, implement its sector skills plan by allocating grants in the prescribed manner and in accordance with any prescribed standards and criteria to employers, education and skills development providers and workers”. This overlap would lead to the unintended consequence that a property practitioner would be entitled to such rights to grant funding under both Acts, and there was similarly an overlap of powers.

The Adams and Adams proposal was that in light of the highlighted concerns, the provisions regarding education and training (section 3 of the Bill) and those relating to the authorisation of funding and grants (section 38 of the Bill) be reconsidered, to ensure that they were aligned with the provisions of the SDA. It was their submission that it had been the intention of Parliament to vest these functions in the Services SETA, in terms of the SDA. It would be misguided to endeavour to regulate this in separate legislation, where the aim was to regulate a group of property practitioners. The Board may be allowed to determine what education and training should be provided, but not to actually provide the training. To leave it to the boards and the Services SETA to endeavour to find a workable solution would not be feasible, and may hold up the process of providing education and training in the property sector, The Bill should be equipped to provide clear guidance and process.

Discussion

The Chairperson wanted to find out what the relationship of Adams and Adams and the Services SETA was, because they kept on talking about Services SETA.

Mr Visser replied that Adams and Adams were acting on behalf of the Services SETA, who had instructed them to address the Committee in respect of their comments and concerns regarding the Bill.

The Chairperson joked that it was clear that the war had just began. Members thought that it would come but had not been expecting it at this early stage (Members and guests shared in laughter). How could a government entity hire legal services to represent its interests, when it was supposed to engage Members and give their submissions? She asked Members what the best way to proceed was.

Members unanimously agreed that the Services SETA should engage with the Committee directly and not through lawyers, as it would seem this was already a court battle.

The Chairperson added that there was nothing wrong with hiring legal services, but the Services SETA should come and present to the Committee themselves, even if they were taking legal advice,. Members would not engage with Service SETA’s lawyers, but the SETA themselves.

REBOSA

Mr Jan le Roux, Chief Executive Officer, Real Estate Business Owners of SA (REBOSA), said REBOSA’s first concern was about the wideness of the definition of "property practitioner" and the effect it would have of drawing within its ambit a vast number of other persons and enterprises which were not currently regulated. It was clear that this was going to create significant additional administrative pressure for the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), with all the concomitant difficulties which may flow from that, including potential litigation should the Authority not be able to efficiently and adequately perform its functions as a result of the volume of what it was required to deal with. Furthermore, the sheer number of other persons and enterprises which would be brought within the ambit of the Authority's regulatory power would significantly challenge the ability of the Authority to inspect, monitor and control the activities of such persons -- yet at the same time, the Authority would have a statutory obligation to carry these functions out.

It was also not clear what purpose there would be in requiring these "other categories" of property practitioners to hold fidelity fund certificates and to operate trust accounts, and whether any element of public interest would truly be served by the inclusion of such a range of other persons and entities within the legislation.

It was therefore REBOSA’s view the legislation should only apply to persons who were actually involved in broking transactions related to immovable property (estate agents proper) and so-called "rental agents". There seemed to be little real public benefit to be obtained in throwing the ambit of the legislation wider than the foregoing, yet a significant administrative burden would result. It seemed axiomatic that the more administrative pressure that was applied to the Authority in the performance of non-essential functions, such as regulating persons who did not truly need to be regulated under this legislation, the less it would be able to properly and efficiently carry out those functions that truly did matter. Also, there would seem to be little purpose in including in the legislation bond originators and bridging financiers, who would be regulated separately in terms of the Financial Sector Regulation Act, once it became law.

REBOSA was also of the view that there should be no exception provided for attorneys in regard to compliance with the legislation. The current exemption in relation to attorneys was creating problems, including the fact that some attorneys were acting as estate agents (by way of broking the transactions in question) at very low (and sometimes close to zero) commission percentages, simply to be able to secure the associated conveyancing work. It also appeared that they often employed people who did not hold National Qualifications Framework (NQF) 4 qualifications. Not only would this appear to run contrary to some of the principles expressed further along in the draft legislation, but it also undercuts the property practitioner industry as a whole, as other property practitioners were not able to compete on a level playing field, as they were not in a position to effectively subsidise the sale process through the earning of conveyancing fees. This was damaging not only to the existing property practitioners' industry, but also to the philosophy of black economic empowerment espoused by the Bill.

There was also an issue with franchising, as contained generally under Sec 64. REBOSA suggests that the definition of "franchise agreement" of the Consumer Protection Act 2008 be adopted for purposes of the Bill. The definition clearly distinguishes between "franchising" and other arrangements which may have features which may be found in franchising arrangements, but which do not amount to franchising, and it was important that the distinction be made clear.  In Section 64 (1), with reference to the earlier comments, REBOSA suggests that at least one of the property practitioners in control of a franchisee must hold an NQF5 qualification.

In Section 64 (2), the subsection requires a franchisee to disclose clearly and unambiguously in all written communications, advertising and marketing materials that it operates in terms of the franchise agreement, and to disclose the name of the franchisor. There should be no need to disclose the name of the franchisor, given that there was no direct contractual link between the public and the franchisor.

In Section 64 (3), the subsection provides that a fidelity fund certificate may be withdrawn if there was an infraction of section 64 (2). However, no such withdrawal should be effected unless a compliance notice has first been issued and not complied with. It was in any event difficult to understand why section 64 (3) was required, as the Authority in any event had the power to withdraw the fidelity fund certificate of any property practitioner in the event of a material contravention of the legislation. It seemed anomalous to call out specifically contraventions of sections 64 (1) and (2). Consideration should be given to deleting section 64 (3).

In Section 64 (4), the subsection provides that the Authority may hold the franchisor responsible for prohibited or sanctionable conduct of the franchisee, to the extent that the franchisee was responsible in terms of the Act. This was utterly unworkable, as in practice a franchisor never assumes responsibility for the acts of the franchisee and the franchisor does not control the activities of the franchisee on a day- to-day basis. The effect of this provision would be to substantially destroy franchising in the property practitioners’ industry in South Africa, as the only way franchisors would be able to protect themselves and their own businesses -- including against a possible loss of their fidelity fund certificates -- would be by way of terminating their arrangements with their various franchisees. The adverse impact on the industry as a whole could not be overestimated. Furthermore, the consequence of the provision would be that existing franchisors would be extremely cautious about whom they appointed as new franchisees. This was most likely to work against the imperative of black economic empowerment.

REBOSA commented that the damage that would be done to the franchising industry would be to the detriment of both the consumers and the Authority, as one of the great advantages of franchising was, if it was implemented correctly, that a system was provided to the franchisee that enabled the franchisee to more easily and fully ensure compliance with regulations and laws.

Discussion

The Chairperson reminded the meeting that they were repealing an Act of 1976, which had not been created for the benefit of majority of South Africans. What the Bill tried to do was to open up the doors and make sure that at least other people get in. That was one of the reasons why black estate agents were still working for the big white estate agents. Was REBOSA saying that it was better to sit with the 1976 Act as it is? Was the Bill not on the right track?

Mr Le Roux replied that this was not the position. REBOSA actually supported the Bill. Every clause that had been criticised in the Bill was from the old Act. These were repeated clauses of the old Act. In principle, the Bill was very good.

The Chairperson noted the word “in principle,” and commented that this was the real estate business owners. She asked REBOSA to confirm if it represented the big five real estate owners.

Mr Le Roux replied that REBOSA was an independent, non-profit company, registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). It represented the interests of business owners and principals of small, medium and large estate agencies operating in South Africa, mostly in the residential real estate sector.

The Chairperson interjected that she wanted confirmation of whether all the big five real estate owners were represented by REBOSA.

Mr Le Roux replied that the top 25 real estate business owners were in REBOSA. It should also be pointed out that REBOSA represented more than 16 000 estate agents, which was more than half the total number of registered, practising estate agents in South Africa. It was by far the largest representative body for estate agents in South Africa.

Mr Malatsi said that he was trying to reconcile the statement made towards the end of the presentation regarding the sentiment that the Bill as it was, would perpetuate the current landscape where there were established industry players continuing to dominate the market. The Chairperson had indicated that there was a need to open up the market to new firms, which was what the Bill sought to do, and which was transform the industry. It was becoming increasingly difficult for small or emerging enterprises to actually compete. In terms of REBOSA’s submission, how did it view transformation as encapsulated in this Bill, because this was at the core of what the entire submission had been about? The other aspect was more procedural, where REBOSA had elaborated extensively on the appointment of the Board and their powers, which he did not believe were make or break issues.

Ms Mabe asked who the big five estate agencies were.

Mr Le Roux replied that there were many firms. All the big ones were there -- all five big ones and also the five small ones -- and also many black ones. (Members and guests burst out laughing).

Ms Mabe was pleased that REBOSA was appreciative of the transformation agenda of the Bill. The only concern was that in their presentation, they had used the analogy of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. It should have used a cheetah instead -- that was a more accurate representation, as with the butterflies it felt like there would be no change, or one would stagnate in the same place.

Mr Wolramans asked what it meant that one should not blame others for issues of the past. He also wanted clarification regarding the submission on franchising.

Mr Le Roux replied that they would change it to “cheetah.”

On franchising, the issue with franchising, as contained under Section 64 (2), was that it required a franchisee to disclose clearly and unambiguously in all written communications, advertising and marketing materials that it operated in terms of the franchise agreement and to disclose the name of the franchisor. There should be no need to disclose the name of the franchisor given that there was no direct contractual link between the public and the franchisor. Further, Section 64 (4) provided that the Authority may hold the franchisor responsible for prohibited or sanctionable conduct of the franchisee to the extent that the franchisee was responsible in terms of the Act. This was utterly unworkable, as in practice a franchisor never assumes responsibility for the acts of the franchisee and the franchisor did not control the activities of the franchisee on a day- to-day basis. The effect of this provision would be to substantially destroy franchising in the property practitioners industry in South Africa, as the only way franchisors would be able to protect themselves and their own businesses --including against a possible loss of their fidelity fund certificates -- would be by way of terminating their arrangements with their various franchisees. The adverse impact on the industry as a whole could not be overestimated. Furthermore, the consequence of the provision would be that existing franchisors would be extremely cautious about whom they appoint as new franchisees. This was most likely to work against the imperative of black economic empowerment.

The Chairperson said that in this day and age, a sector that contributed in excess of 15% to the country’s gross domestic product was not adequately transformed. At the centre of the engagements was the need to remove impediments for the entry and sustainability of the previously disadvantaged property businesses. South Africa had a long history of constructive engagements aimed at finding workable solutions, and the Committee was convinced that today’s engagements were constructive, and while sometimes uncomfortable questions had been asked, it was in the context of coming up with legislation that would assist the country in transforming the industry. 

National Property Forum.

Mr Leo Mlambo, Chairperson: National Property Forum (NPF) said the Forum was a national Section 21 organisation of primarily independent black estate agencies boasting a membership of more than 1 000 agents and principals, with regional structures in six of the country's nine provinces. The NPF had been established due to the need for an organisation that would represent the interests and promote the collective prospects of a grouping that had historically been marginalised in the real estate industry due to a variety of factors.

The Forum’s collective aim was to:

  • Reinvigorate an effective non-racial representative national network of independent estate agencies;
  • Facilitate projects that capacitate members to grow their enterprises and to contribute to the goals of the Property Charter by creating employment opportunities for historically disadvantaged individuals wanting to enter the property industry;
  • Ensuring and managing the professionalisation of its members through education programmes; and
  • Establishing firm relationships with all stakeholders, such as banks, government, originators etc.

After 24 years into the democratic South Africa, transformation of the economy was still a major focus of government and other participants in South Africa. The property Industry was a significant contributor to the South African economy, but the property sector reflected some of the most glaring inequalities from the apartheid past. South Africa’s apartheid laws discouraged property ownership by people of colour. As a result, property ownership and knowledge of the property industry was skewed in favour of one racial group.

Both the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Minister of Human Settlements had indicated on a number of occasions and on various platforms, the need for effective transformation in the property sector. Property was one of the growth sectors in South Africa, and despite the recent downturn in the world economy it remained as a beacon of hope within the economy, contributing more than 15% in GDP. Many industry experts agreed that there remained serious challenges facing the property industry, specifically in respect of transformation. Less than 6 % of estate agencies were owned by blacks, who collectively earned less than 1% of the estimated R2.6 billion in commission from the residential sector in 2016.

Black real estate practitioners remained frustrated and were not sufficiently exposed to opportunities within the property industry. This impediment also prohibited them from obtaining sufficient knowledge and expertise to compete effectively.

Reports had shown that there were not nearly enough black property practitioners in the market. The EAAB registration figure for 2010 reflected a mere 12% of black estate agents (African, Coloured and Indian), and the current statistics reflected an even gloomier scenario. It had therefore become extremely important that people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds were given easier access to the property industry, with meaningful assistance and support, taking into consideration the context of growth in the real estate industry fuelled by affordable housing over the past eight years. Except for a few practitioners, the South African property industry had in general, when considering appointments, largely ignored helping new entrants from previously disadvantaged communities, and this needed to be rectified.

The NPF proposed that to correct this, the following would be necessary. The first issue was on the application of the fidelity fund certificate (FFC). The FFC was a necessary industry requirement and the Forum fully supported its issuance, but it must not be a barrier to entry because of the onerous and stringent requirements for emerging agents. NQFL4 and 5 training had to be streamlined and must have measurable results. The NPF proposes the introduction of a cadet programme.

Transformation must not focus solely on shares within established large, mostly white-owned, companies. While it supported the Bill and think this should be a requirement in the eventual Act, it proposed that training needed to be accelerated to cater for young entrants, as well as graduate.s Using the cadet programme, the government needed to offer support to new entrants, through generating leads and offering preferential provision for lease management.

Almost 99% of black estate agents did not use their trust accounts, yet the Bill proposes no differentiation between those who were, and were required to use trust accounts, and those who did not. Exorbitant auditing fees were a barrier to entry, and the Forum proposed the Bill put a limit on fees and/or exempts businesses making less than RI.5 million in annual gross commission turnover from having trust accounts. Business accounts in previously disadvantaged individuals’ (PDI’s) agencies were also used as transactional accounts. The NPF supported the introduction of a transformation fund, and believes that this should be made mandatory for businesses with a gross annual turnover of more than RI.5 million. An agreed tax-deductible levy on gross annual turnover could be levied on these businesses to grow the fund, which could be administered by a recognised entity whose board included government appointees and the industry players.

Lastly, the Board of Authority, as currently structured, was administrative and not industry attuned. The Board should look at making it easy for PDI agents to operate legally, and not act like an enforcer, but rather as an enabler. More industry and business experts should be Board members.

Discussion

Mr K Sithole (IFP) asked whether the NPF was satisfied with the transformative agenda of the Bill and whether the Bill as it was, was a good transformative Bill, especially with regard to training and the Services SETA.

The Chairperson asked whether, in the Forum’s own analysis and understanding, it felt like the big 25 firms played enough of a role in assisting PDI firms in this industry?

Mr Mlambo replied that there remained serious challenges facing the property industry, specifically with regard to transformation. The Forum felt that the big 25 were not doing enough to empower other firms. After all, out there, businesses were in competition with each other. This was best illustrated by the fact that fewer than 6% of estate agencies were owned by blacks. That was why the clarion call of the NPF was to support the transformative agenda of the Bill. The Bill was a good and brilliant idea and it should be used to the full advantage for the benefit of all, and not just a minority.

On the Services SETA, the Forum was of the view that there was need to ensure that the skill requirements of the services sector were identified, and that adequate and appropriate skills were readily available. It was through skills development and capacity building that blacks would be able to benefit.

The Chairperson said that the Committee welcomed the informative engagements that had been held today, and would take the inputs into consideration when it processed the Bill. The Committee welcomed the fact that there was universal agreement that the Bill was necessary for the transformation of the sector. The Committee had been made aware of issues that had arisen that required further consideration by the Committee and the Department. Those issues included the requirement for practitioners to have trust funds, the costs associated with audit processes, the duplication of membership across bodies that regulated the industry, as well as structural training and the role of a transformation fund in advancing the transformation of the sector. The Committee would undertake an extensive programme of public consultations to garner input, in efforts to strengthen the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

                                                    

 

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