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Check agent’s FFC registration before handing over money

In light of further cases of misappropriated rental deposits having been reported, Michael Bauer, managing director of IHPC estate agency, says tenants and landlords must check that the agent that they are dealing with is registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board.

“Clients should ask to see the agent’s fidelity fund certificate as proof of registration. It would be also advisable to deal with agents who are registered with the Institute of Estate Agents SA, as being affiliated to a professional association gives an added level of protection,” says Bauer.

“Rental deposits should be paid into trust accounts which are audited, and tenants and landlords are entitled to ask whether there is transparency concerning the statements of account.”

He says when dealing with rental agents, it is always best to deal with specialists in the field, and not agents who do “a little of everything”.

“Tenants rely on their deposits being refunded with interest after their leases expire, and if it is found that the funds have gone missing it puts them in a financial predicament, because they often need this money to pay deposits on their next rental property.

“Landlords, too, suffer because they might need to claim a portion of the deposit amount for repairs or clean-up of the property. If there is no way of tracing the money, they will be out of pocket,” says Bauer.

“Surprisingly, in certain areas there are still many agents operating without fidelity fund certificates, which would also mean that they are unlikely to have audited accounts.”

Tenants and landlords should always ask for proof of registration or they can check online on www.eaab.org.za. To check for registration with the Institute of Estate Agents SA visit www.ieasa.co.za.


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