For many SHEQ consultants, adding an extra service offering has become a key to survival. Some have purchased “drones” only to discover it is illegal to operate it for commercial purposes if the operator (pilot) is not registered with the Civil Aviation Authority.
A more recent development is the inclusion of property inspections under the umbrella of HSE. But this is also soon to come to an end when the new Property Practitioners Bill becomes law.
Currently with the National Council of Provinces, the Bill is to replace the Estate Agents Affairs Board with a new regulator and will introduce a few new classes of “Property Practitioners”.
When a property is inspected by a third party, it is generally speaking done with a view to compliance with the National Building Regulations, the Electrical Installations Regulations and the Electrical Fence Regulations under the Electrical Machinery Regulations. The property inspector normally acts in the interest of the buyer of a property, in order to give a third party opinion of the suitability of the property for the purposes of lease or sale.
The Property Practitioners Bill defines this as “any natural or juristic person who or which for the acquisition of gain on his, her or its own account or in partnership, in any manner holds himself, herself or itself out as a person who or which, directly or indirectly, on the instructions of or on behalf of any other person— in any other way acts or provides services as intermediary or facilitator with the primary purpose to, or to attempt to effect the conclusion of an agreement to sell and purchase, or hire or let, as the case may be, a property or business undertaking,…”
Performing an inspection of a property in order to write a report for the buyer on the condition thereof, will effect the conclusion of an agreement to purchase or let, be it positive, or negative. It therefore falls within the scope of the definition of a “Property Practitioner”.
The Bill also prohibits a practitioner to in any way offer or receive financial or other incentive to, or otherwise influence, a person who at the request of a seller or lessor issues a certificate required by law, based on his or her expert opinion, in respect of—
- the condition or defects of electrical wiring;
- the presence of vermin;
- the presence of water or damp; or
- any other relevant matter or condition which may be provided for in any law.
A property practitioner who contravenes this section or a person who accepts
any such incentive is guilty of an offence.
And although the Bill does not introduce a forced registration regime, it does require an application for a Fidelity Fund Certificate and include sanctionable conduct by unregistered or unlicensed practitioners in Chapter 9. The net effect of this is the listing of the practitioner concerned on the Authority’s website at the very least. Other penalties include fines and withdrawal of Fidelity Fund Certificates of registered practitioners.
The Bill may however be changed after input from the NCOP, but it is not a Bill of Concurrent Function and the National Assembly can pass it as is. We will keep you posted.