MPs lock horns over estate agents bill
The bill aims to establish a property ombudsman with powers to demand documents from property practitioners and agencies
MPs on the portfolio committee on human settlements are divided over the Property Practitioners Bill, which Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has recently released for public comment. The bill aims to establish a property ombudsman, who will take on some of the functions performed by the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB). The ombudsman, as outlined in the bill, will have the power to demand documents from property practitioners and agencies. In 2012, the courts ruled against the EAAB more than once when the board requested permission to search Auction Alliance offices countrywide without a warrant after Auction Alliance was exposed for having run ghost bids at its auctions. The courts also ruled that Auction Alliance executives could not be summoned to appear before the National Consumer Commission. The board believed that Auction Alliance and some of its employees had violated the Estate Agency Affairs Act. The verdicts not only dented the board’s image but effectively rendered it ineffectu...