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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.

Managing Agents and the PPRA – Simplified

Why do Managing Agents, who do not sell or rent properties, need to register with the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority, and why must they hold a Fidelity Fund Certificate?

All property practitioners are required to register with the PPRA and hold a FFC. Property practitioners are defined as individuals who interact with the public in dealings related to immovable property. The PPRA regulates property practitioners and mandates the holding of a FFC to protect the public against any malpractices by a property practitioner through the FFC insurance.

Anyone liaising with a Landlord or Seller, a Tenant or Buyer during a property transaction must hold an FFC. Similarly, anyone who has access to or transacts with Buyer or Tenant funds, held in the firm’s trust account, must also hold an FFC.

Thus, a Managing Agent is considered a property practitioner.

Given that not all specialised property fields involve selling and renting properties, the PPRA issues FFCs specific to each specialised industry. These specialised FFCs require the completion of a qualification specific to their function. Currently, ServicesSETA and the PPRA are developing a qualification for Managing Agents, expected to be ready by late 2024. A Code of Conduct for Managing Agents is also under development.

Who in a Managing Agency must hold an FFC?

  • All administrative staff involved in property management;
  • Portfolio managers who attend meetings or process payments;
  • Bookkeepers who manage the trust account and have access to the bank account of the body corporate;
  • Directors overseeing operations.

What type of FFC must a Managing Agent hold?

  • A specific Managing Agent FFC;
  • If the agency or property practitioner also deals in sales or rentals, they must also hold a Real Estate FFC.
  • Any previously held FFC will be cancelled, and a new one will be issued.

When are Managing Agency FFCs available?

The PPRA has been issuing Managing Agency FFCs since December 2023. All Managing Agents are required to apply for a Managing Agency FFC immediately.

How do I apply for my Managing Agency FFC?

Under the Property Practitioners Act 22 of 2019, each category of real estate must have a separate FFC and qualification. To obtain your Managing Agent FFC, you must:

  • Complete the E1 Exemption form and request an exemption from Regulation 33;
  • Complete the FFC application form on the PPRA website, follow the prompts, and attach the required documents.

Yes, there is a charge every time an FFC is issued according to the Act and Regulations. These charges are listed on the PPRA website.

What prerequisite is required to register for the Managing Agent qualification?

As the course is still under development, prerequisites have not yet been disclosed. It is anticipated that the prerequisite will align with the NQF4 Real Estate 118714, which requires holding an NQF3 or Grade 11 certificate.

How do I apply for an exemption against the Managing Agent qualification?

The PPRA will consider exemptions for individuals holding a qualification in Managing Agency or similar. A policy will be provided once the qualification has been developed.

Revolutionising PDE: Introducing the Take-Home Exam

On 29th February 2024, learners will experience the flexibility of PDE like never before. In an attempt to address the recent PDE constraints, the PPRA has introduced a pilot project for all registered learners to take part in.

The PPRA has confirmed that you will receive your exam paper at 08h00 via email or download it from the PPRA website. Simply type your answers in the allocated spaces on the MS Word document and submit it back by 16h00 on the same day.

There are many advantages to this approach. You get to enjoy the added benefits of working offline and accessing all your resources. It also promotes more meaningful learning, instead of having to memorise your material.

Notes:

  • The exam is completed in a location of your choice
  • You will not be invigilated
  • You get more time to complete your exam
  • Download/save your exam paper
  • Complete your exam offline
  • You do not need to print your exam paper
  • You will email your exam paper back to the PPRA on completion
  • Your exam starts at 08:00 and must be submitted to the PPRA by 16:00
  • You have full access to online resources and your study material

We at PropAcademy encourage you to embrace this innovative approach to PDE. It has been designed to make your exam experience smoother and more efficient!

For more information on this important communication, please click here.

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.

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.

Exam Prep for PDE4 & PDE5

10 Tips on Writing Your PDE

These tips only apply to the PDE – Professional Designated Exam – Level 4 and 5 regulated by the PPRA.

Don’t study using everyone’s handed-down crash course material; this will have you spinning with unanswered questions and outdated material.

The PDE exams are held online and at a venue, depending on the PPRA’s requirements.  Here are some instructions for both:

At a Venue:

  1. Take your ID, FFC and proof of exam registration with you.
  2. When the PPRA refer to a “seat number”, please ignore this.
  3. You are not allowed any electronic devices in the exam room, including a cell phone.
  4. It is an open-book exam so please take your PropAcademy course material into the exam and know where to find your answers; that is key! Index your files (soft or hard copy) and be very familiar with where everything is.
  5. Make sure that you have a backup pen.
  6. Don’t talk to others during your exam.
  7. Ensure you don’t just get up and leave the room; you must ask for permission.

What to purchase and what not to purchase

  1. Purchase our crash course if you haven’t already! The course is live on your profile for 6-weeks but can be completed as quickly as you like. We have both PDE4 and PDE5. This includes our training material updated after every exam, live classes for you to join online, and quizzes to test your knowledge.
  2. You will be advised to purchase the “EAAB/PPRA NQF4/5 Study Guides”. Please feel free to borrow these from your fellow colleagues. If you have purchased our course, these guides can be seen as your back up and in our course, we advise you on which chapters to focus on.

Complete our PDE course quickly!

  • You can register for our course before registering with the PPRA for your exam – whenever it suits you.
  • You start your course as your payment reflects. No waiting is required!
  • Payment options are available to suit your needs. You will see these on the checkout page and below.
  • 98% of the learners using our material have passed the 1st time!
  • Our course is based on the PDE exam papers, giving you the tools to knock this exam out of the park.
  • Watch the recorded webinars in your course at any time that suits you.
  • There are live webinars closer to exam time, where you can join your fellow writers and chat with our facilitator about your concerns.
  • Support channels are ready and waiting for you.

Purchase today & start as soon as your funds reflect.

It’s that easy. Study our range of courses and grow your career with us to guide you. Payment options: EFT, Debit, or Credit card. Alternatively, take advantage of our PayJustNow facility; you choose this option at the checkout page, apply for an interest-free loan [we cover the fees], and if you qualify, you will pay over three months instalments and have access to your course after your first payment.

Studying online with ease…

We have designed our platform to suit your needs. You are out and about, busy in meetings, and need something you can do in your own time, from wherever it suits you, at any time of day or night. So, we have developed it for you. Accompanied with videos in your course, live webinars, online support and more.

The above advice is based on real-life experiences from our learners.

Online:

  1. When the PPRA refer to a “seat number”, please ignore this.
  2. Make sure your mic and webcam work. Don’t have a webcam? Buy one!
  3. Don’t talk to others during your exam; you must be alone in a quiet room.
  4. When you book your exam, you may see you need to choose an area to write. Please click on the area to complete your booking but note. You can do this exam from anywhere quiet as long as you are online. The area is just there until the PPRA remove it.
  5. Ensure you don’t just get up and leave the room; you must ask for permission.
  6. Your internet connection must be bulletproof; you cannot afford to be disconnected.
  7. You should receive a practice test just before your exam; please do this; it will also show you how to draw a graph and a few other tricks for the day.
  8. Don’t bounce around from question to question; sometimes, you can’t return. Instead, answer the question as you read it.
  9. Know where to find your answers; that is key! Index your files (soft or hard copy) and be very familiar with where everything is.

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.

2022 Deadlines: Am I Compliant

Kindly take note of these deadlines with regards to the PPRA.

1. Education Regulations

All practitioners must comply within two years of their first FFC. Those that do not have amnesty until 30 June 2023. This means you must have completed your 12-month intern logbook, your NQF Level 4 Real Estate 59097, and your PDE Level 4 exam in time. Failing which you will be barred from operating as a Property Practitioner. https://theppra.org.za/article/extension_of_the_education_requirements_compliance_deadline_

2. FFC & Registration Certificate Renewals

Renewals need to take place by the 31st of October each year. Your renewal is paid for 3 years in advance. Principal renewals have to be applied and paid for first. Agencies do not have to pay for renewals but need to renew via the Principal’s PPRA portal. Following this, all other Property Practitioners can renew. Click here for further tips on renewals.

3. Trust Accounts

Designation of Trust Account name must be changed by 31 August 2022 to:

“As designated by Sec 54(1) and 54(2) of the Property Practitioners Act No 22 of 2019.”

The PPRA has engaged all banks, through the Banking Association of South Africa, on the referencing of all existing trust accounts to the new section 54(1) and 54(2) naming convention under the PPA and the PPRA has given banks up to 31 August 2022 to finalise this change in referencing. Accordingly, existing trust accounts opened prior to 1 February 2022 and still containing a reference to the old section 32(1) and/or 32(2) of the EAAA can be accepted by the principals and auditors of business property practitioners up to 31 August 2022. However, all new trust accounts opened after 1 February 2022 must contain a reference to section 54(1) and/or 54(2) of the PPA.

4. Trust Account Audits

Trust accounts must be audited within four months from year-end. The four months were extended to six months for the 2022 submissions, meaning that if your year-end was Feb 2022, you must submit by no later than 31 August 2022.

5. RMCP

This contract had to be reviewed by 15 July 2022.

6. BEEE Certificates

All agencies must upload BEEE certificates.

7. SARS Certificates

All agencies must upload SARS certificates.

8. CPD

CPD occurs in three year rolling cycles.  As an example, if you started your CPD in 2022, it would run for 2022, 2023 and 2024.

You must complete your:

  • annual CPD program as instructed by the PPRA, normally by June of that year;
  • verifiable and non-verifiable points before 31st December of each year;
  • payment for the following year must be made by the 31st March of that year.

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.