FIC Compliance Notice for Estate Agency Firms

Recently, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) issued a notice to all estate agency firms, instructing them to complete and submit their Risk & Compliance returns by the 31st of May 2023.

All firms, branches, and franchises that have been issued a goAML Org ID number by the FIC, which serves as your FIC registration number, are required to submit these returns. This FIC registration number is essential for estate agency firms, branches, and franchises to register with the PPRA and obtain a Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC).

The required document is known as Directive 6 of 2023. Firms registered from the 1st of April 2022 to the 31st of March 2023 are obligated to complete this directive. The link to this document was emailed to all estate agency firms last year and can be accessed through the provided link.

The urgency of submitting this form stems from the South African government’s efforts to remove the country from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list. South Africa was grey-listed in February 2023.

For South Africa to exit the FATF grey list, the FIC must ensure that its administration is current.

It is important to note that the majority of estate agency firms have neglected the request to complete this document.

Firms that continue to disregard this directive will be marked as non-compliant. It is highly likely that the FIC will share this information with the PPRA, which will then be compelled to prevent your agency from operating until Directive 6 has been submitted.

Directive 6 must be completed online using the following link.

For any queries, please contact the FIC’s compliance centre on 012 641 6000 or email [email protected]. For further information, visit www.fic.gov.za.

CPD: The Way Forward

Revamping CPD: A New Direction for Estate Agents’ Professional Development

In December 2023, the Property Principal Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA) issued a notice to all estate agents obligated to accrue Continual Professional Development (CPD) points as part of their ongoing education.

The key points of this notice include:

  • All payments, up to and including for 2023, must be current.
  • CPD points outstanding from before 2023 are no longer required.
  • Your CPD Personal Development Plan (PDP) for 2024 must be completed.
  • The previous categorisation of CPD points into Verifiable and Non-Verifiable is now discontinued.
  • Going forward, four modules per annum must be completed. These can be found on your MyCPD PPRA Portal once released.
  • These modules may be completed via your PPRA MyCPD Portal or with a provider accredited by the PPRA.

Who is eligible to complete CPD annual modules?

  • Full Status agents, known as non-principal property practitioners, are eligible.
  • All non-principal practitioners qualify for CPD the year following the achievement of their new non-principal status, as recorded on their PPRA MyPortal.
  • All principal property practitioners are eligible for CPD.

This notice marks a significant shift in the approach to CPD, simplifying the process while ensuring that all practitioners continue to develop their professional skills. It’s essential for all estate agents to stay informed of these changes and ensure they comply with the new requirements to maintain their professional standing and continue providing high-quality service in the real estate industry.

Get Qualified to Uphold Your Status & Avoid Disqualification

As per revised clarity notice on 30 June 2023 deadline on compliance with education regulations published by the PPRA.

Given the ongoing hurdles, we feel the pressure placed on you as a Practitioner, so let’s clear things up.

WHAT MAKES ME COMPLIANT?

If you hold Intern/Full Status, then to be compliant within the 24 month period, the following must be marked as competent:

  1. Internship Logbook
  2. NQF4
  3. PDE4

If you hold Principal Status, then to be compliant the following must be marked as competent:

  1. Internship Logbook
  2. NQF4
  3. PDE4
  4. NQF5
  5. PDE5 (within 24 months of holding Principal Status)

WHO IS THE COMPLIANCE DEADLINE FOR?

Candidate/Intern’s who have not complied within 24 months from their first FFC issue date.

Full status agents who have not been found competent in the NQF4 or PDE4.

Principal’s who have not been found competent in the NQF5 or PDE5.

Unless they have proof of exemption.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM NON-COMPLIANT?

If you were non-compliant on the 30th June 2023, then you will be disqualified and automatically blocked on the PPRA portal effective 03 July 2023. This means that you will not be issued with a further FFC when you wish to renew.

Your current FFC remains valid and you can continue to trade until it expires.

SO, HOW DO WE FIX THIS?

This is how you lift your disqualification block.

Submit your application within 60 days of disqualification, requesting an extension of 6 months within which you must become fully compliant. If you do this within 60 days there will be no penalty fee.

The application needs to be made by use of the affidavit which you can download here.

The affidavit must be accompanied with a letter signed by the applicant, together with supporting documents on how the applicant will ensure they will comply within the extended 6 month period.

The application must be submitted to [email protected]

When the PPRA receive the application, they will consider it, approve or reject it, and advise the applicant of the outcome within 30 days.

If the application is approved, the disqualification will be removed and a letter issued granting the extension of 6 months.

The applicant has this time period to become fully compliant.

If the application is declined, or if an application was never made, then the practitioner will remain blocked until they are compliant and have notified the PPRA of their compliance.

In such instance, and if the practitioners FFC has expired, the practitioner may apply to register as a candidate property practitioner for the respective sub-sector in terms of Regulation 33 of the PPA.

If the practitioner complied fully before their FFC expires, and within the 6 month period (from the date of disqualification letter) the block will be removed.

If you fail to apply within 60 days of being notified of your disqualification, and are still disqualified at your FFC expiry date, you will not be issued with a FFC at your current practicing status until you have fully complied and you will have to pay a penalty.

Practitioners who cannot comply with the extension process, or meet the education requirements, may, when their current FFC expires, apply for an FFC as a candidate practitioner and must then comply with the candidates education regulations.

Old and new terminology:

Intern Status – Candidate Property Practitioner

Full Status – Property Practitioner

Principal Status – Principal Property Practitioner

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Disclaimer: PropAcademy has prepared these notes to the best of their knowledge and have taken advice from various experts.  PropAcademy are indemnified against any misrepresentation or error that may occur herein.

Recognition of Prior Learning & ServiceSETA Rules & Regulations

How do I know that an ethical Accreditation Centre is representing me?

It is difficult to turn down a “cheap” course – how are you to know that there are providers in the industry selling cheap RPL courses to agents who do not qualify and cannot complete them?

Certain costs must be carried out when delivering a qualification.  Your course must be current with the legislation of that industry, and it must be assessed by an ETDP/SSETA accredited Assessor who must be paid to mark your assignments and liaise with you directly to ensure you understand how to present any remedial work.  Then the assessor hands over your competent portfolio to an accredited Moderator.  The moderator, in turn, must take a sample of learners from a group and then check that the assessor has assessed correctly and that the candidates’ answers are authentic, sufficient, valid and current.  Only then will SSETA confirm a visit to verify the group and pass certification.  This process costs money to be carried out efficiently and effectively.  Don’t be caught out!

Are there unethical Accreditation Centres and Providers in the marketplace that I must avoid?

In any industry, you will find stakeholders who want to cut corners to the detriment of the consumer.  Just ask the correct questions and ensure that the provider is an approved Accreditation Centre and has the backup to ensure your speedy certification.

What could be the repercussion if I use an unethical provider of an RPL qualification?

The most important repercussion is how it will affect your pocket in the long term and your compliance with the PPRA.  Often, candidates dump the course they have purchased and re-purchase through another provider to achieve compliance.  Be aware and ask questions.

What determines that I am eligible for RPL?

Recognition of Prior Learning is just that.  It can be recognised through experience, or it can be recognised through past qualifications, and the regulatory bodies determine these parameters.

You will comply if you have been a property practitioner for at least a year and have knowledge of the industry, proof of training and experience in various property market sectors. At our PropAcademy Assessment Centre, we supply you with an online quiz to give you a quick indication of what is required and then ask for evidence which we examine.

We ensure that you understand that RPL is a course where you will have to prove to the SSETA that you have been in the industry and understand the processes and requirements of a full-status property practitioner.  You will be asked to provide proof of contracts that you have completed and complete quizzes and assignments.  Because you are an RPL candidate, you don’t receive learner guides, but at PropAcademy, we throw those in case your memory needs reminding of a certain industry specialisation.  For example, you may be a rental agent and need to know more about sales.

How does RPL help me complete my course faster?

RPL does speed up the process. Because you are not “learning” the industry but only providing evidence that you understand the industry, the course can be done half the time.  Remembering, though, the assessment and certification process takes at least three to four months after you have been found compliant.

It must be noted that even though you may be eligible for RPL, you must follow the SAQA pre-requisite to complete RPL in that qualification.  If you are applying for NQF4, 59097 Real Estate, you must have mathematics and a second South African language at the matric level.  PropAcademy supplies easy bridging courses for both subjects.  If you apply for NQF5, 20188 Real Estate, the pre-requisite has an NQF4 59097 or exemption.

PPRA/EAAB Extension of the Education Requirements Compliance Deadline

New Deadline

The PPRA/EAAB has extended the deadline from 31 January 2023 to 30 June 2023. All candidates must meet this deadline as it will not be extended again.

Who is the deadline for?

When you receive your first FFC you must submit your Logbook within the first 12 months, and within a total of 24 months [from FFC issue date] you must be found competent in your NQF4 and your PDE4.

You will then need to comply with CPD the year following the year you received your PDE4 results.

If you then complete your NQF5 and registered as a Principal, you have 2 years in which to be found competent in your PDE5.

If you held Full/Principal status without completing the educational steps, then you need to confirm which courses you need to complete to comply with the deadline.

If you have not stuck to these timelines, then you will need to do so by 30 June 2023.

For a breakdown of the education process, download this free guide.

How to Become a Principal Property Practitioner

To become a principal property practitioner in South Africa and own your real estate firm, you must comply with the controlling regulatory authority, The Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority.  The PPRA was previously known as The Estate Agents Affairs Board, the EAAB.  The Property Practitioners Act No 22 of 2019 was promulgated in February 2022.  Agents/Practitioners are also governed by The Property Practitioners Code of Conduct.  Well, what does this all mean?  Let’s summarise “how to become a property practitioner” for you.

From Intern or Candidate Property Practitioner:

Terminology recently changed the naming of an intern agent to a candidate property practitioner.
The candidate practitioner enters the property industry in South Africa as an employee of an estate agency firm. They register with the PPRA and receive a Fidelity Fund Certificate.  No practitioner may trade as an estate agent or practice under an estate agency firm without an FFC.

Whilst trading under the candidate status, they require the assistance of a principal or non-principal practitioner in completing any documentation with a client. Once the candidate has received an FFC, they have a stipulated period within which to become qualified as Full Status, failing which their FFC is withdrawn, and they may no longer trade.  As of November 2022, this period is stipulated at two years.  During that period, they must complete their intern logbookNQF4 qualification and PDE4 exam. They will then achieve full status.

From Full Status or Non-Principal Property Practitioner:

A non-principal property practitioner must achieve principal status to open and manage an estate agency firm in South Africa.  How is this achieved?  There are typical scenarios which are broken down:

  • “I have only achieved full status – what are my next steps?”

You will have to complete the full qualification known as NQF5 Real Estate.  The full name of the qualification is National Certificate: Real Estate: 20188: NQF Level 5.  This is a five-month course and will take at least an additional three months for SSETA certification.

Once you achieve your NQF5 certification, you will receive a Principal FFC and have two years to pass your PDE5 exam, failing which your FFC will be rescinded.

  • “I am a full status/non-principal practitioner and have managed an estate agency firm under a principal practitioner – what are my next steps.”

This is a shorter process as you can complete your NQF5 through Recognition of Prior Learning, RPL.  The course will take up to three months and is a compilation of your work experience.  To qualify for RPL, you will be assessed by PropAcademy and must prove that you have managed an agency and can manage a trust account.

Exemptions apply to all facets of legislated education

  • Intern Logbook: A candidate may be exempt if he had traded as a practitioner for five years before 2013.
  • PDE4 & PDE5: If you were a practitioner for five consecutive years before 2008, you would be exempt from the exam level stipulated on the FFC you held at that time.
  • NQF4 & NQF5: Always check the PPRA website to see what diplomas, degrees, and NQF credits may exempt you from completing these qualifications.

How can I open my agency before obtaining my required principal status is a common question?

This can only be overcome if you employ a Principal Practitioner to manage the firm while obtaining your qualifications.

You will also have to open your entity to manage your agency.  Your accountant or auditor will probably complete this process, investigate the PPRA’s requirements, open the firm with CIPC and adhere to the normal SARS protocols.

Who needs a Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC)

Any person facilitating or providing a service in the sale or lease of property in any way and does not use the services of a property practitioner must hold a Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) through the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA) formally known as the EAAB. Business undertakings shall include any activity, whether sold as a whole or going concern, or as part of a business, or by means of transferring the beneficial ownership.

“A property practitioner is any person who, for the acquisition of gain, directly or indirectly, on the instructions or on behalf of another:

  • sells, purchases, manages or publicly exhibits for sale any property or business undertaking;
  • leases or hires or publicly exhibits for hire any property or business undertaking;
  • collects or receives money payable for a lease;
  • provides, procures, facilitates, secures or otherwise obtains or markets financing for or in connection with the management, sale or lease of a property or business undertaking; and
  • renders services as an intermediary to affect the conclusion of an agreement to sell or let a property or business undertaking (except where this is not done in the ordinary course of the person’s business; where a natural person does it in their capacity, or where the person is an attorney, candidate attorney or sheriff).

Thus, the definition extends well beyond estate agents. It includes:

  • Auctioneers
  • Property developers (not natural persons selling their own property)
  • Property managers
  • Franchisees
  • Providers of bridging finance and bond brokers fall under this ambit but have applied for exemption.  Financial institutions are not included as they are covered under their Act.

Anyone who falls within the ambit of the definition of a “property practitioner” is required under the Property Practitioners Act no. 22 of 2019 to register as a property practitioner and obtain a certificate issued by the Fidelity Fund on an annual basis. Refer to Section 47(1) of the Act. Conveyancers are prohibited from paying any money to a property practitioner without receiving a copy of that property practitioner’s valid Fidelity Fund certificate.

Note: The PPA will not apply to the following persons who do not do any of the above-listed activities in the ordinary course of their business;

  • Persons who sell their property
  • An attorney
  • A candidate attorney
  • A sheriff.”

Often the question of an “administrator” pops up – why should they need a FFC if they do not deal directly with the public?  They don’t. Why do they need a FFC if they are drafting lease or sale agreements? They don’t, as long as they are not signatory to the contract, and it is being overseen by the practitioner that they drafted it for.   But if they are dealing with the public’s money or with the agency trust account then they will need an FFC.

Another question arises mainly from Managing Agency firms – why do my administrators have to become fully qualified property practitioners and hold an FFC?  Well, the same applies.  If they are not dealing directly with the public, if they are not dealing with the Trust Account then they do not need an FFC as they are performing a purely administrative function.

The PPRA FFC Renewal Process Explained

We know that there are still some of you battling to renew your FFC, so we have decided to share some tips to help you out. Please note the contents of this article has been extracted from this PPRA Notice.

Important Tips

  • The cut-off date to renew your 2023 FFC is 31 Oct 2022
  • Your renewal is paid for 3 years in advance
  • There is no payment plan allowed for with regards to the renewals
  • Principal renewals have to be applied and paid for first
  • Agencies do not have to pay for renewals but still need to renew via the PPRA portal.
    The firm or business practitioner on longer pays any FFC fees as a result of the legislation which provides that only natural persons pay for FFCs.
  • Following this, all other Property Practitioners can renew
  • There is no provision in any legislation or policy which allows the practitioner to get a refund should they leave the industry during the renew period paid for

When you renew, remember

  • You must use your correct 7-digit ref number
  • You need to renew on your PPRA portal “Renew individual FFC”
  • You will then be issued an automated invoice giving you the correct amount payable
  • Pay your invoice and PDF the Proof of Payment
  • Download and complete your application form [PPRA Individual FFC Application Form]
  • Click here for a link to the PPRA, and scroll down for the application form
  • Upload these documents [POP & Application form] onto your PPRA portal, Log a query, FFC enquiry

To watch a Property Practitioner renewal

Now it’s time to pay for your renewal

  • For access to the PPRA Fees click here
  • Current Candidate [Intern] for less than 24 months = R1540
  • Current Candidate [Intern] for more than 24 months = R2340
  • Current Non-Principal [Property practitioner | Full Status] = R2340
  • Current Principal =  R2340

If you don’t renew in time you will be penalised R125 per month.

The Path to Certification: REIS Panel Discussion 2022

The Property Practitioners Act No22 of 2019 is the law from 1st February 2022.   Whenever there is a change in legislation, clarification is needed.

Listen to this 40-minute discussion to understand how agents must comply during the change from the old to the new Acts and how the new Act affects developers, Homeowner Associations and Property Practitioners.

REIS PPA Roundtable

The experts include Janet Alexander, CEO PropAcademy / Mfundo Daki, HOD Education Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority PPRA / and Sean Theunnissen, CEO Property Point.

EAAB: Agents need to comply with education regulations or be disqualified

MAIN IMAGE: Courtney McKenna, operations manager of PropAcademy; Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa

A policy approved by the EAAB applicable to interns, non-principal or principal estate agents, has granted an extension of a time frame within which they can ensure compliance with the board’s education regulations.

The EAAB’s practise notice (ETD01/2020) states that these regulations do not apply to persons who want to enter the estate agency sector for the first time or to persons who have never previously applied for, or been issued with, a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) by the EAAB. By law estate agents are required to have a valid FFC issued by the EAAB for them to practice.

The notice is applicable to estate agents holding full status FFC’s despite having failed to comply with the requirements of the standard of training of estate agents.

“The  extension is welcome and a deadline  for interns very necessary. It will, however, be impossible for the EAAB to cope with the  increased volumes as it is not coping at present “, says Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa.

Interns

In the case of interns, the notice is applicable to persons who have continuously been registered as intern estate agents for a period exceeding twenty-four months. They are granted time until 30 June 2022 to submit a completed intern logbook to the EAAB, duly signed off by both the intern agent and the principal or qualifying mentor estate agent. This will serve to assess if the intern was initially issued with an intern FFC during 2013. Alternatively, the intern can submit a letter from a principal of the estate agency where the intern estate agent served the internship to confirm the successful completion of the twelve-month internship period.

The intern should also be certificated against the NQF Level 4 real estate qualification and have passed the PDE 4. Interns who fail to comply with these regulations by 30 June 2022 will be ipso facto rendered disqualified in terms of the Act.

In the case of intern estate agents who have not passed the PDE within two years after having been certified against the NQF Level 4 real estate qualification, are granted until 30 June 2022 to enrol for and pass the PDE 4. Failure to pass will lead to disqualification.

Estate agents

Registered full status non-principal estate agents who have not been certified against the NQF level 4 real estate qualification or who have not passed the PDE45 but who hold a valid FFC, also have until 30 June 2022 to be certificated against the NQF Level 4 real estate qualification and to pass the PDE. If they fail to do so by 30 June 2022, they will be ipso facto rendered disqualified.

Principals

The same regulation applies to registered full status principal estate agents holding a valid FFC but who have not been verified against NQF level 5 real estate qualification or who have not yet passed PDE 5 while failure to comply will also lead to ipso facto disqualified.

Consequences

The consequences of being rendered disqualified in terms of the act, will lead to the person being blocked and unable to renew their FFCs for 2022 or any ensuing calendar years and pay an administrative penalty of R1000.00. The penalty must be paid before any further FFCs will be issued to them.

Agents in these situations can apply to the EAAB under the proviso to section 27 of the Act, for the issue of an FFC for the 2022 calendar year if they can convince the board that it will be in the interest of justice to issue the FFC. This application must be lodged with the EAAB within a period of sixty days after the person concerned is notified of the disqualification. Failure will render the person disqualified.

A disqualified estate agent will remain blocked until:

  • The EAAB has received a substantive application from the applicant in the form of an affidavit, together with all supporting documents necessary or required to enable the application to be duly considered, in which the applicant provides sound and valid reasons as to why the issue of a FFC will be in the interest of justice and
  • the application has been duly considered and approved.

On approval, the estate agent may be unblocked and granted a maximum further six months, calculated from the date of the unblocking of the application, within which to comply with any outstanding educational requirements in terms of the education regulations. No further extensions of time will be granted to the applicant estate agent.

Failure by an applicant to comply with any outstanding educational requirements in terms of these education regulations within the set period, will render that estate agent ipso facto deregistered as an estate agent.

Estate agents who have been deregistered by the EAAB, may reregister, but only in the capacity of an intern estate agent. They will be required to comply with all the requirements pertaining to an intern estate agent. This Practice Note came into effect on 1 July 2021.

Courtney McKenna, operations manager of PropAcademy, an accredited provider of regulated estate agents’ qualifications, education and an RPL assessment centre, welcomes this Practice Notice with open arms and says it is way overdue and will professionalise the industry.

“The EAAB legislated education some 13 years ago but they never fully implemented their checking policies to police this process, resulting in property practitioners trading as full status or principal status agent as reflected on their fidelity fund certificate, where in fact they have not complied with education requirements and intern agents remaining at that status for years past the cut-off date.

“Part of the reason that property practitioners have not complied with education can be put down to their complacency with the Board. The Board’s administrative systems have been unable to issue FFCs timeously, unable to produce regulated CPD courses timeously and the question is asked: “how will they be able to monitor my education status?”

McKenna says all property practitioners must be compliant by end of June 2022 which is going to be a hard task for some. However, there is relief in recognition of prior learning (RPL), where agents will be able to fast-track their learning, terms and conditions apply.

Written by
Danie Keet (Property Professional)