A frustrated Fin24 reader looking to buy a home in the near future seeks the advice of an expert on how to go about receiving her debt clearance certificate. She writes:
I have paid up all my debt and sent the paid-up letters to the debt counsellor asking for my clearance certificate. The first one said I owed them legal fees, which the National Credit Regulator (NCR) asked them to prove. The Payment Distribution Agency statement shows that legal fees, including other fees, were deducted or rather included in my monthly instalments of R1 500 every month for 11 months.
I was then advised by the NCR to again ask for my certificate, since the issue of me owing them was cleared up. I did so and they never responded. I took it upon myself to make an appointment to see them in person. When I arrived, I was told they will not issue anything as I must pay "aftercare fees" which amount to between R1 500 and R1 700.
I'm stressed as I had a goal to pay off my debts so that I can in near future buy a home for my children.
I'm really hoping you can assist or advise me as I don't have money for lawyers.
Neil Roets, founder and CEO of Debt Rescue, responds:
In terms of the National Credit Regulator Withdrawal Guidelines all the consumer’s aftercare fees must be up to date before the debt counsellor can issue a clearance certificate. The debt counsellor therefore has the right to request the aftercare fees to be paid before the clearance certificate is issued.
This being said, the client does have two routes to follow in order to get a clearance certificate. Firstly, in terms of section 71(3) of the National Credit Act, the consumer may approach the National Consumer Tribunal for assistance if the debt counsellor decides not to issue the clearance certificate. Should the National Consumer Tribunal be satisfied that the consumer met all the requirements for a clearance certificate to be issued, they may order the debt counsellor to do so.
Secondly, a clearance certificate must be issued by any debt counsellor. This does not mean that it has to be issued by the debt counsellor at which the consumer originally applied for debt review. Any debt counsellor can issue a clearance certificate for any consumer as long as all the requirements of the National Credit Act are met.
It is important to note though that there are companies that will issue this at a fee, especially in the circumstances where they have to obtain certain documentation from the credit providers.
Some debt counsellors do not charge a fee as long as the consumer provides all the necessary documentation so that the debt counsellor can simply issue the certificate.
It is therefore important for the consumer to find the debt counsellor that will best assist him/her and to clarify up front whether a fee is payable or not.
The documentation the debt counsellor may require is the court order (if granted), the proposal presented to the credit providers and all paid-up letters for all the accounts listed on the proposal and/or court order.
If all the documentation is provided to the debt counsellor, he/she can issue the clearance certificate.
*Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.
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