The long-debated Property Practitioners Bill has been signed into law and will be replacing and repealing the 43-year-old Estate Agency Affairs Act.
Whereas the old act regulated the conduct and dealings of only estate agents, the bill has extended the parameters to include all “property practitioners” such as estate agents, commercial property brokers, bridging finance companies, property managers, home inspectors and bond originators.
The Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority will replace the Estate Agency Affairs Board as the regulatory body for the industry and the Estate Agents Fidelity Fund will now operate as the Property Practitioners Fidelity Fund.
A property practitioner will have to, every three years, apply for a fidelity fund certificate and pay to the authority any prescribed fees and any applicable penalties. No one is permitted to act as a property practitioner if they are not in possession of a valid fidelity fund certificate. The bill specifically sets out that commission or remuneration may not be paid by the conveyancer to a property practitioner who is not in possession of a valid fidelity fund certificate.
A defects disclosure form will now also become compulsory and will need to form part of a sale or rental agreement. Should the form not be included, the agreement will be interpreted as if no defects were disclosed. In addition, purchasers and tenants will be able to request that the sale or rental agreement be done in any of South Africa’s eleven official languages. The regulatory board is to provide sample contracts in all languages accessible on their website.
Although the bill has been signed off by the president, the new law will only come into operation on proclamation in the Government Gazette, a date which has not yet been set.