Unregistered estate agents tarnish industry: Gebhardt

22 Feb 2016 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 22 FEB (NAMPA) – There are currently 40 unregistered estate agents selling properties illegally at the coast, and stricter requirements are needed.
Chairperson of the Namibia Estate Agents Board (NEAB), Anne Gebhardt made the remarks during an information-sharing event with estate agents here on Monday.
“It is too easy to become an estate agent - too easy to sell properties. Some are doing business on Facebook and they are not registered. We need stricter requirements,” she stressed.
Estate agents are gathering for a two-day event to take stock of the industry. Discussions include amongst others, NEAB membership fees, the Estate Agent Act (Act 112 of 1976), audit reports, education and training of agents, disqualifying or withdrawal of operation certificates for agents, and the nominations or appointments of new board members. The term of the NEAB board members will come to an end on 21 March 2016. The new board will serve a three-year term.
The Act establishes an Estate Agents Board and an Estate Agents Fidelity Fund and regulates the activities of estate agents. In order to obtain registration with the Board, the estate agent will have met the requirements of the Act, which include passing, or exemption of the Board’s examination. In return, the Board will issue a Fidelity Fund Certificate to a qualified estate agent. It would be illegal for the agent to act without being registered and without holding an active fidelity Fund Certificate. The certificate expires at the end of each year.
Gebhardt noted that the Board is not funded by the Government, despite now falling under the Ministry of Public Enterprises.
Unregistered estate agents as well as a poor penalty structure are some of the biggest obstacles that compromise professionalism in the industry, according to Gebhardt. An unregistered agent, or a legal agent playing against the rules of the Act, can pay about N.dollars 5 000 in penalty fines.
Gebhardt also raised the concern that due to the low fees, the board nearly closed doors last year as it could not sustain its day-to-day operations. NEAB membership fees increased from N.dollars 200 to N.dollars 500 per annum in 2015. NEAB has about 700 members.
During the meeting, delegates proposed higher membership fees that could range from N.dollars 20 000 to N.dollars 50 000 per annum for principle estate agents.
Another burning issue amongst delegates was the Cabinet committee that was set up last year to find solutions to the prevailing land problems in the country, with the recommendation that Government should regulate the property rental market. The committee called for the provision in the Consumer Protection Bill to regulate the property rental market, with a view to preventing the current exploitation of tenants by landlords, but regulation appears to not be possible.
“It will not work,” said Gebhardt in reference to the proposed law.
The committee also called for the amendment of the Estate Agents Board Act to regulate the conduct of estate agents and property developers.
“We have to pull our industry together – let us be proactive. Let us be professional and come up with proposals for Government about regulating the industry.”
The meeting ends on Tuesday.