New property laws proposed for South Africa

Human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu plans to introduce the Housing Consumer Protection Bill to the national assembly.

In an explanatory summary published in the government gazette on Tuesday (11 May), Zulu said that the bill will repeal the existing Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act which has been in effect since 1998.

Zulu said that the new bill will further address some of the challenges addressed under the previous legislation, including:

  • The protection of housing consumers;
  • The transformation of the industry;
  • The high risk of litigation;
  • The inadequate enforcement powers;
  • The ineffective alternative dispute resolution mechanism;
  • The excessive turnaround time of the current enforcement procedures.

“To this end, the bill seeks to ensure adequate protection of housing consumers and effective regulation of the home building industry by, inter alia, strengthening the regulatory mechanisms; expanding the protection to housing consumers; introducing effective enforcement tools and prescribing appropriate penalties/sanctions to deter non-compliance by home builders.

“In addition, the Bill creates an enabling environment for new entrants into the home building industry through the introduction of contractual provisions to ensure their sustainability in the market,” Zulu said.

Zulu said that the ‘economic transformation’ of the industry is also addressed in the bill through thethe introduction of provisions such as a warranty fund surplus which can be utilised towards human settlements’ developmental programmes.

Other legislation on the way 

Since the start of the year, president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet approved a number of other property-related bills which are also set to be introduced to parliament.

A key piece of legislation is the Land Court Bill which 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.

Cabinet has also 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,” it said.

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

The consultations are set to culminate in the convening of a National Land Summit.

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New property laws proposed for South Africa