Estate Agents Council continues crackdown on bogus Estate Agents

Source: Estate Agents Council continues crackdown on bogus Estate Agents | Sunday News (Business)

SOME bogus agents are companies that had been Registered Estate Agents, but who have failed to comply with the regulations and conditions as prescribed by law.

We see this happening now with a Harare Real Estate company, called Grapple Properties.  At some stage, they were no longer compliant with the Estate Agent Council (EAC) rules.  If this case has followed the typical way forward, then once their violation had come to the attention of the EAC, they would have been contacted and advised of their transgression.  They would have been given a chance to explain, especially if they felt they were not in any contravention of the rules.

However, if it was shown that their infringement was genuine, then they would have been warned and instructed to bring their firm into compliance with all of the regulations as outlined in the Estate Agents Act (Chapter 27:17).

Failure to do so, in a timely manner, would eventually cause the EAC to “blacklist” the Real Estate company.

If a company is “blacklisted” it means that they are no longer registered with the EAC.  At that time the offending company will no longer be considered to be a Registered Estate Agent.  That company will then be banned from practicing as an Estate Agent.  Further violations, can bring longer bans, court cases, fines, and even jail time.  We rarely see these cases go so far.

Sunday News reported on 24 September that 79 Real Estate Agent had been “blacklisted”.  (see link )  The article stated,

“The Estate Agents Council has blacklisted 79 estate agents around the country for among other misdemeanors not being registered with the council and some not having a registered estate agent.

In a statement, the council warned the public from dealing with the blacklisted agents revealing that the council and the Compensation Fund will not accept liability if they suffer loses due to their dealings. Members of the public are hereby notified that these entities and individuals who are illegally practising as estate agents are not allowed to trade in Estate Agency business in Zimbabwe including assisting in selling and management of properties.’”

Grapple Properties was one of these 79 Blacklisted Real Estate Agents listed.  It then came to light that Grapple Properties continued to work as Estate Agents.  The EAC started an investigation, and through their Compliance Officer determined that, in deed, Grapple Properties had ignored the warnings and the “blacklisting” and had continued acting as Estate Agents.  They were then handed over to the police for these repeated violations.

After being taken to court, we have learnt that Grapple Properties was fined $20,000 for operating as an estate agent in contravention of Section 60(1)(b) of the Estate Agents Acts [27:17] at the Harare Magistrates Court.

This example shows us that individuals and companies that were once Registered Estate Agents can also become Bogus Estate Agents.  A company that was once properly registered and functioning legally can easily become bogus by failing to comply with the requirements and regulations of the EAC.

We may see more examples of this happening in the future, as the EAC continues to commit to the regulating and the policing of its own members.  This is something that most genuine Real Estate companies welcome.  We all strive to see a well-run industry that services the public, in the extremely important area of Real Estate.

Jonathan Thompson is a Registered Real Estate Agent who works in Bulawayo.  He has nine years’ of experience in Real Estate in the USA, and another 10 years’ experience in Bulawayo.  He is the founder and the Managing Director of Thompson Properties (Pvt) Ltd.  He has great interest in the Real Estate Industry of Zimbabwe, and actively invests in Real Estate.