3 planned property changes announced this week that every South African should know about

 ·12 Mar 2021

A number of property-related bills were placed under the spotlight this week, with government looking to increase regulation for the sector.

While these bills must still undergo the full public participation process – including an open comment period – they provide insight into the government’s planned changes, and its thinking behind them.

Some of the issues covered include additional protections for homeowners; changes for complexes and other sectional titles; and additional rights around land claims.

The Housing Consumer Protection Bill

On Thursday (11 March), president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet approved the submission of the Housing Consumer Protection Bill for tabling in parliament.

The bill will repeal the existing Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act which has been in effect since 1998.

The proposed amendments include expanding the protection afforded to housing consumers – including repairs, renovations, alterations and additions to an existing home.

The bill also proposes transformational changes in the home-building industry.

“A number of inputs have since been received from the industry stakeholders through public consultations. The bill will go through further consultations with the parliamentary process before it is passed into law,” cabinet said.

Sectional Title Bill 

Parliament’s portfolio committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development called for written comment on the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill this week.

The bill introduces a number of additional regulations which largely relate to the management and development of schemes including extensions and common property – with tenants and trustees less likely to be impacted.

Some of the key proposed changes include:

  • Make it a requirement for developers to have a meeting with every lessee of a building in instances where part of such building is to be wholly or partially let for residential purposes, to answer questions put to the developer by the agents of the lessees;
  • Provide that a certificate issued by an architect or a land surveyor must also comply with section 26(2) of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (where land is only allowed to be used for the permitted purposes);
  • Provide for the amendment of sectional plans in respect of exclusive use areas;
  • Provide for a developer to submit a plan for subdivision or consolidation to the surveyor-general for approval to subdivide, consolidate and to extend a section.

The bill also introduces a number of administrative requirements around issues such as sub-divisions and extension plans.

Land Court Bill 

The Land Court Bill will allow for the establishment of a specialist Land Court as well as a Land Court of Appeal.

It is specifically aimed at accelerating the country’s land reform programme as well as resolving such as backlogs and disputes around land claims.

“The bill seeks to address the systemic hurdles that make it difficult for land claimants to obtain land restitution,” said Justice and Correctional Services minister Ronald Lamola in an explanatory statement.

“For instance, the bill allows for hearsay evidence for most families, who have to rely on oral history and the existence of elders with knowledge of description, location, and extent of land which their descendants previously occupied.”

Lamola said that bill also allows for expert evidence regarding historical and anthropological facts relevant to any particular land claim.

“This bill gives effect to the mandate of the sixth administration, namely, to ensure our approach to land reform is based on three elements – increased security of tenure, land restitution and land redistribution.

“This bill is a concrete intervention to improve the functioning of all three elements of land reform.

“It creates a policy framework to ensure that land reform is guided by sound legal and economic principles and contributes to the country’s investment objectives and job creation initiatives,” he said.

Policy paper on land 

While not a new bill, this week Ramaphosa’s cabinet approved the draft Position Paper on Land Administration and Land Tenure Reforms in Communal Areas for further consultations with relevant stakeholders.

“The proposed reforms provide a legal framework to initiate the process of transferring communal land to persons or communities whose tenure of land is legally insecure,” said Ntshavheni.

“These reforms will also expand the communal asset base to empower communities to engage in cultural, social and economic activities of their choice.”

Ntshavheni said that the consultations will culminate in the convening of an envisaged National Land Summit.

Read: Proposed laws Ramaphosa’s cabinet has just approved – including new worker and property rules

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