A new year will always bring with it a few new years’ resolutions that will not be kept, no matter how hard we try. The real estate market, however, may just see the age-old resolution to have a better year realised with new legislation that will change the property market drastically.
Property Practitioners Act, 2019
This new Act aims to align all the parties working within the real estate industry under one set of guidelines and regulations. The first change it brings is in its definition of “property practitioners”. Whereas the previous Act, the 43-year-old Estate Agency Affairs Act, focused purely on estate agents, the new Act includes property inspectors, property developers and even companies selling timeshare. This change broadens the scope of the legislation included in the new Act and aims to create uniformity and improve functionality in the real estate market.
Furthermore, the new Act will establish a Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority that will govern the entire property market, not only estate agents, as the previous Board of Authority. One of the key changes the board will investigate is the inclusion of a comprehensive property defects disclosure document in each property transfer. While it has always been accepted as best practice to disclose any defects in the property beforehand in a property sale, it is now mandatory to include a documented disclosure before the transaction may be completed.
Tenants of rented property are also protected by the new Act as new monitoring mechanisms and regulations are introduced, protecting the privacy and constitutional rights of those renting property. Those renting properties are however most protected by another piece of legislation, namely the Rental Housing Amendment Act.
Rental Housing Amendment Act, 2014
The Rental Housing Amendment Act, 2014 will bring key changes to the Rental Housing Act,1999.
This Act aligns itself with the new Property Practitioners Act by further placing emphasis on the inclusion of a defect disclosure in a property transfer and the importance of all rental agreements being in writing.
The new amendments stipulate that a property must be kept habitable, that is, safe and suitable for living, by the landlord and that tenants may not be denied basic utilities or be denied access to their home when they fail to pay rent. The correct measures to be taken in such a case are outlined in the Act but will not allow landlords to rob tenants of their basic rights.
The manner in which deposits are kept is also stipulated. Deposits must be invested in order to gain interest and then refunded to the tenant within seven days of the lease’s end. When the costs of repairs are deducted from the deposit, the landlord must be able to offer proof of the damages and the costs.
It must be noted that although no date has yet been set for implementation of this Act, it is believed by many experts in the industry that implementation is imminent and once implementation occurs, landlords and tenants will have six months to comply with the new legislation. This Act should therefore be kept in mind when parties enter into any new leases.
Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Act, 2019
The Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Act introduces the development, establishment and maintenance of an electronic deeds registration system. This new system will allow conveyancers and the Registrar of Deeds to process, prepare and lodge deeds and documents electronically, allowing them immediate and easy access to the process. The system will also give the public access to their deeds without having to go into the specific Deeds Office.
Beyond the ease of accessibility, the registration of title deeds will also become more efficient. The new system will be able to accommodate larger volumes of deed registrations, improving turn-around times for clients and property practitioners alike. The ease of access will also enhance the efficiency, integrity and accuracy of deed examination and registration.
The Act will come into operation on a date to be fixed by the President by proclamation in the Gazette. Section 2 of the Act commenced on 2 December 2019.
The new year promises to hold new horizons for the property market it would seem. If you need assistance in navigating your way through the changes, let NVS show you the way.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)