When a consumer is over-indebted their expenses exceed their income. Steve van Wyk, Seeff’s MD in Centurion, says a court may refer such a consumer to a debt counsellor to assess their financial position or consumers may also apply themselves to a debt counsellor.
“If the debt counsellor agrees that the consumer is over-indebted, then a debt repayment plan will be drafted. Once all debtors agree, the counsellor will apply to the National Consumer Tribunal for a consent order to implement the plan.”
Van Wyk said fee guidelines for Debt Counsellors that were released in 2018 by the National Credit Regulator (NCR) and the Debt Counsellor’s Association of South Africa stipulate the following maximum fees that a debt counsellor may charge:
- A R50 application fee;
- Administration fees of R300 per debt counselling application should the debt counsellor reject your application on the grounds that you do not qualify;
- A maximum fee of R8,000 (Plus VAT) should the debt counsellor draw up a debt repayment plan which is accepted by you and your creditors. The minimum fee is equal to the lowest initial instalment of your repayment plan;
- A maximum fee of R9,000 (Plus VAT) should the application for debt restructuring be for both you and your spouse;
- Should your debt counsellor fail to submit a repayment plan to your creditors or the National Consumer Tribunal or to the Magistrate’s Court within 60 business days from the date on which you applied for counselling, the Debt Counsellor will have to refund all your fees paid back to you;
- A monthly fee capped at R450 (Plus VAT) per month for two years, based on 5% of the monthly instalment. This is commonly known as an “aftercare fee” and ceases once you have been issued with a clearance certificate that states that you have repaid all the debt for which you underwent debt counselling;
- Should you withdraw from the debt restructuring process after your debt counsellor has drawn up a repayment plan and successfully negotiated with your creditors, you will be liable to pay a fee equal to 75% of the restructuring fees;
- You will be liable for any fees that the Debt Counsellor may incur whilst taking legal action on your behalf such as applying to a magistrate’s court if the creditors dispute the repayment plan;
- The Debt counsellor must disclose all fees to you upfront and you must agree to the fees in writing.
Van Wyk said that if your gross individual income is more than R2,500 per month or if your gross household income is more than R3,000 per month then the fee guidelines will apply.
Should your income be less than that mentioned above, your fees will be subsidised by the NCR.