Probe against estate agent ‘shows R200,000 missing’

Estelle Ellis

A PRELIMINARY investigation of well-known Jeffreys Bay estate agent Renette Block has revealed R200000 is missing from the agency’s trust account, Jawitz Properties boss Herschel Jawitz revealed this week.

Despite mounting claims against the agency, threats of legal action from unhappy tenants and landlords, and a fraud case being investigated, Block insists she is not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Jawitz, however, said this week that shortly after the national agency had decided to take over Block’s agency in December last year, she sent him an e-mail to apologise for what had happened.

The e-mail reads, “I want to say i am sorry everything just became to much for me i ask you and the group to know this was a very hard and difficult time for me i will accept the end result regards renette.”

Jawitz said there had been threats of legal action from landlords and tenants who had not received their rent and deposits.

Block, however, insists things only went wrong after she was effectively barred from the office and has claimed the allegations against her are vague and she is the victim of a conspiracy to discredit her. She says the heavy- handed reaction by the national agency has ruined her life.

Jawitz, however, said their action had been necessary to protect their clients.

Block this week said that when Jawitz Properties was looking for a way into the Eastern Cape market, she had been approached to set up agencies and at one stage had about 45 agents working for her. She said Jawitz’s drastic action against her left her without an income or the prospect of finding a new job. As a single mother of three, she now had to move house as she had not received any commission due to her since the end of last year, and had had her vehicle repossessed.

Block claimed “all the funds are in place” and she “has proof of this”, but added she could not account for what had happened to the account since she was barred from the agency in December.

Jawitz countered that his company had contracted Jeffreys Bay auditing firm Mould and Associates to conduct a review of the trust account.

“Their conclusion was that there were funds missing and that the trust account had not been conducted as required by the Estate Agency Affairs Board [EAAB] and the relevant legislation.”

He added that, although Block insisted no complaint was filed with the EAAB over the missing funds, he had the necessary reference numbers.

Block said she had not heard anything from the board and believed that if the body had been involved from the start, her reputation could have been saved.

“We have in no way threatened Block other than to ask for her cooperation in resolving this matter. We have informed her that our company will enforce our restraint of trade as spelt out in her franchise agreement, given the complete breach of trust by her to our company and … to her clients,” Jawitz said.

Block said that even after she obtained an administrative job at another estate agency, Jawitz had threatened the owners with restraint of trade action if they failed to dismiss her.

“Ms Block … proceeded to contact both our clients and our agents in an effort to get them to join our competitor, with complete disregard to her franchise agreement,” Jawitz said.

“There is absolutely no restriction on her working … for any company outside of the industry.”

He stressed the reason they resorted to laying charges against Block was to protect their clients and their brand name.

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