Foreign Land ownership in South Africa

The ownership of land has been a controversial issue all over Africa and the world at large. There is always a huge fight between governments and the people and it has resulted in unfair land redistribution amongst the locals. It becomes a completely different and equally difficult situation when the land issue now involves foreigners. We are looking at land and not property. Many nations around the world have set laws around the land ownership issue especially with reference to foreigners.
The South African President’s state of the nation address brought about a new law in reference to the land bill. This is known as the Land Holdings Bill, this law is directed towards Foreigners and states that they will not be able to own land but rather will be granted a long term Lease. This however will not be the normal as the lease agreements will have to be approved in special circumstances by the President. The bill will follow the normal process before being approved. This means the bill will be presented to Cabinet for the official processing.
There has been mixed feelings with regards to this bill, Dr Andrew Gordon a notable professional in the built environment and Chief executive of Pam Golding properties was quoted as saying that the passing of this bill could lead to the loss of Investor Confidence in the nation. This could be absolutely true as potential investors could choose other destinations.
The bill generally seeks to address a number of issues but the main one being to provide a permanent solution to the land injustice brought about in colonial times. It will also address the issue of the appropriate use of land and many other reasons. We will have to wait and see whether the bill will be passed on as law and how long it will take to be implemented. Regardless of time frame, this is a very sensitive subject and it will certainly shake the economy.

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Beware of dodgy home inspectors

In this day and age, with technology vastly expanding, everything is made easier to access. From googling the nearest shopping mall that is closest to your home to now creating your own qualifications online. That is how the internet has quickly become a quick measure used for fraud. A somewhat threat to the society we live in today.

The announcement by the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) that a proposed Property Practitioner’s Bill is currently in it’s early stages of creation has triggered a response by the CEO of Inspect-A-Home, Eric Bell, saying that they are fully behind the idea that the home inspection industry should be regulated.

Mr Bell also stressed over the fact that it is all too easy for backyard operators to begin trading with qualifications that are well within the no traceable zone which affects already established companies which in the long run, affects the consumers, putting their lives and belongings at risk.

The Property Practitioner’s Bill will make clear the roles of both the agents and home inspectors. According to Mr Bell, home inspectors will now become a category of property practitioners and will fall under the rules and regulations of the EAAB. This will now require Estates agents to give buyers and sellers the option of using home inspection services, rather than home inspection services being forced upon. All in the name of reassurance and safety.

With all bring said, we urge you to be cautious. Before hiring a home inspector, make sure that they are a legitimate company that will deliver to the highest quality. Before buying or selling any property, you need to hire an established home inspection company to complete an all-rounded inspection of the interior and exterior of the property that is being bought or being sold. This will allow you to know exactly what the state of the property you want to sell or buy is currently in.

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What’s your property resolution for 2015?

As we head into the new year, it is only normal for people to want to experience change in their lives. Explore new options and decisions that will in some nature alter themselves, making the year 2014 a year of the past in every way possible.

Having a New Years resolution has somewhat become a tradition to say the least. Everyone needs motivation to carry on. Why not add a goal or resolution to help you stay focused? Anything from finishing your studies to working your way to getting that perfect beach body for December 2015 is an example of adding a New Year’s resolution into your “To-Do-List”. So we ask you. What is your property resolution for 2015?

Having a property resolution for the new year does not necessarily mean that you have to set your goal based on buying a new property in the year 2015. It can be as simple as redecorating your garden space. Fixing your old and broken down roof. Changing the primary colour of your house or even adding a swimming pool and relieving you and your family the pain of spending another hot summer’s day boiling up. It is not always in the extravagant things that one can find a drastic change. Sometimes, changing small details can go a long way.

Maybe your property resolution for 2015 includes you buying or selling property within the year 2015? If that is your resolution. We urge you to make every step that will need to be taken in order for you to reach your goal a careful step. Always analyze all possible options and make sure that whatever the conclusion may be, it may be a conclusion that best fits you and/or your family.

We wish you all the best as you tackle the new year head on. Be merry and remember, don’t be afraid of a little change. Happy New Year 🙂

A safe home in the festive season

With the frenzy of the festive season fast approaching. The wonderful times being spent with friends and family. The holiday trips to all four corners of the earth and the hectic late gift shopping about to start. One can only find closure knowing that their property is being well taken care of and protected whilst being gone. It is a season of fun and games, laughter and joy and the most anticipated part of the season. The giving and receiving of gifts. A recipe that usually results in homes not being given the time and attention it deserves in order to be a safe house throughout the season of joy. You should be laid back and relaxed, your home on the other hand should be on high alert.
You might be asking yourself how this should be done. How do you keep your house protected at all times? What are the guarantees that your house will not be a victim of theft? We will be giving you a few tips and pointers from the South African Police Service (SAPS) as well as the Business against Crime Association on how to keep your house safe whilst you are away.
The first step into making sure that your house is properly protected is by checking and making sure that all security systems found in your house are indeed working before leaving for holiday. This step is one that is more often than not neglected which can lead to a very disastrous ending. Investing in burglar guards for your windows is also a precaution that can safe your house from being broken into. Making sure that all windows are firmly locked is also a routine that you need to be familiarised with.
Do not leave any messages on your answering machine, door or mailbox regarding your festive season plans as this can be bait for a burglar to enter your home. Having a reliable person to undergo regular checks on your house, clear your mailbox, feed your pets should you have is a very good idea. A constant flow of people checking up on your home could bring out the illusion that you never left☺.
We hope that this is going to help you become more aware of what could happen and how you can avoid anything from happening. We wish you a joyful festive season and happy holidays.

Municipal Service Deposits

The City of Johannesburg recently announced that retrospective security deposits will be charged for electricity as well as water meter. This however is not the end, the City of Johannesburg also announced that on top of the just heard announcement, two months’ average on municipal bills will also be charged. Is this direction that the city of Johannesburg taking a step in the right direction? Will this lead to a new country-wide law being implemented or will this be only applicable within the boundaries of what is known as the City of Gold?
This new rule being implemented is said to be completely in line with the City’s bylaws and if the deposit amounts are not paid, services may be discontinued, claims Michael Bauer who is the general manager of well-known property management company IHFM. In section 39(1)(d) of the City of Johannesburg’s Credit Control and Debt Collection By-Laws of 2005 states that “No municipal service may be provided to my applicant, unless and until an amount equal to the amount prescribed… has been deposited as security or other security, as prescribed, has been furnished.” Judging by what the section embodies, it can be clearly concluded that the direction that the City of Johannesburg is taking is clearly the legal way. As we know, the bill does not lie indeed.
Furthermore, Section 33.1 of the City’s Credit Control and Debt Collection policy states that “all accountholders shall pay a deposit for the supply of electricity and/or water by the City calculated as the rate of the deemed consumption for a period of two months in respect of the property in question.”
Since steering this project into full force from the month of February this year in various regions, the City of Johannesburg claims that customers have chosen to ignore the request of paying off their deposits which therefor forces the City to enforce these bylaws. So we ask you. Do you think the City of Johannesburg’s officials are doing the right thing by enforcing these new bylaws? Will these newly enforced bylaws be enough to persuade our fellow Johannesburg based customer into following the correct protocol or will these bylaws end up giving more reason for the people to rebel against it? Only time will tell.

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New bill to impact the South African rental market

There has been a lot of talk revolving around the Rental Housing Amendment Bill within the rental property industry recently, which was tabled before the National Assembly in the early stages of this year. If this bill is passed on, many South Africans will be affected in the near future, as roughly 2.5 million (the latest estimated amount from Stat’s SA’s 2013 General Household Survey) households are situated within rented accommodation.
The Rental Housing Act of 1999 has regulated all residential leases but however, the new bill tells us that even more control will be put into place and judging by the increasingly high number of tenanted properties in South Africa, the need of this new bill is heightened, but what are the implications and requirements involved in order for this new bill to be declared up and running?
The most significant change regarding the new bill is that from now on, all lease agreements must be put in writing. To avoid miscommunication throughout all processes, a pro-forma lease agreement, which the minister will produce, will be drafted into all 11 official languages. This will allow for a more understanding and precision form of approaching all situations. Currently, the established bill allows for lease agreements to be in in both written and verbal form, however, the use of a verbal lease agreements leads to conflict and disputes more often than not which leads to situations that are difficult to resolve.
A written lease agreement carries a handful of benefits. It is indeed obvious that a written lease agreement helps sort out disagreements between tenant and landlord in a much orderly fashion however, transferring spoken words onto paper at some times, is not a walk in the park. Especially in cases dealing with potentially illiterate tenants.
Another important addition to the new bill, which has been called upon to be clarified, is that all provincial Rental Housing Tribunals will need to draft Unfair Practice Regulations. Gauteng as well as the Western Cape are the only provinces that have these regulations in place but even with that being said, they differ widely in their respected provisions. This is important because the bill proposes that tribunals should have an appeal and review processes, which allows a cost effective way to oppose the tribunals’ finding without having to address the High Court.
To allow for a more precise and fair conclusion, at least one member of the tribunal is required to have legal qualifications as well as legal expertise. With that being said, landlords should be fully conscious that the proposed amendments will have no impact whatsoever on the authority of the tribunal to evict tenants as that level of authority and judgement is placed only on the Magistrates as well as the High Court.

The 101 on Sectional Title

You might be wondering what processes one needs to undergo in order to establish a Sectional Title Scheme. What are the ‘dos and don’ts’ that one needs to execute in order to run an orderly and successful Sectional Title Scheme? The key to understanding any form of theory is by actually tapping into its roots and knowing its history. Ask yourself what a Sectional Title Scheme is. How did the Sectional Titles Act originate? What year was the Sectional Title Act actually implemented?
Allow me to exercise your imagery skills and paint a vivid picture in your mind. A simple scenario. A large piece of land where property can be built is available for sale and we have ten individuals who each want to buy a piece or ‘section’ of that land. Each person has purchased a piece of that land and therefore each owner has a ‘section’ of the main land that he/she owns. Due to each individual owning a section of the land, it is morally incorrect for a single individual to manage and administrate all that goes on within the land. Therefor a Body Corporate is established. All owners collectively forms the Body Corporate auotmatically. Basically, the Body Corporate has a duty to manage and administer the Sectional Title scheme. The Body Corporate is managed and controlled by the Trustees who are elected by the owners, usually at an annual general meeting (AGM). The first act put in place was the Sectional Title Act 66 of 1971 and later replaced with the Sectional Title Act 95 of 1986
The size of the piece of the land that you have bought is your percentage of the total land and is called the Participation Quota (PQ). The PQ is used to determine your contribution percentage of the annual budget.
If you are looking for more insight on how to establish a Sectional Title Scheme and wish to receive training on the discussed. Do not hesitate to contact us as we do offer Sectional Title as well as Trustees training.

Managing Agent Duties VS Trustee Duties

There are numerous key players in a Sectional Title Scheme, and confusion often exists in respect of what is expected of the many parties. In this edition we will be focusing on the duties of Trustees and Managing Agents.

A Sectional Title scheme or “complex”, as it is often referred to, is controlled and managed by the Trustees of the Body Corporate. The Body Corporate consists of all the owners collectively who own a unit in the scheme. The trustees, as mentioned above are defined as members of the Body Corporate who have been elected by the owners to administrate the Sectional Title Scheme. These tasks and responsibilities are closely defined in the Management Rules 28 to 45, an annexure to the Sectional Title Act. Examples of these tasks are listed below:

· Administrative and Control:
o Insurance
o Arranging meetings (e.g Annual General Meeting)
o Record keeping of minutes of meeting
o Rule enforcing
o Manage employees
o Common Property maintenance
o Consider requests from owners (alterations, extensions etc.)

· Financial
o Compiling of Income and Expenditure schedules
o Arranging of Annual Financial Statements compilation (e.g. Auditor)
o Levy Collections
o Keeping proper books of accounts and records
o Operate and control bank account and payment of expenditure
o Invest surplus funds

A Managing Agent is a person or company who is appointed by the Trustees of the Body Corporate to assist with their duties, and act on their behalf in the administration of the scheme. The role of the Managing Agent is mainly administrative and financial in nature and is generally set out in a service agreement entered between the scheme and the managing agent.

A Managing Agent is often mistaken for a caretaker because of the managerial responsibilities but a Managing Agent does not deal with day to day maintenance checks, inspections and repairs of the scheme, however some agents do offer a day to day maintenance plan at additional remuneration.

To evict? Not to evict?

An escalating topic amongst land owners within the state and the private sector is whether or not eviction of illegal occupants is a violation of Human Rights in South Africa. Is it ok to evict illegal occupants? Is it ok to leave hundreds of families stranded without homes? Indeed this is a very sensitive topic that may lead to future altercations and setbacks in South Africa.

Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, has made a call to all land owners; both state and private, to put on hold all planned evictions of illegal occupants. The Minister pointed out that there needs to be a clear understanding of the laws and basic human rights requirements before any eviction can take place. Minister Sisulu expressed her disappointment towards the evictions that took place in winter saying “when it is cold and while school-going children are writing exams”. Surely evicting people from their homes during winter is a violation of the basic right to shelter? Or perhaps do we blame the people for occupying illegal land in the first place? Is this a case of “two wrongs don’t make a right” or is it simply inhumane?

“As the Minister of Human Settlements I fail to understand why a property owner will receive a court order in summer and wait until winter to effect it. It is inhumane and bad timing, it is totally unacceptable,” she said. It seems that Minister Sisulu is layering her argument based on the timing of the eviction as opposed to the actual eviction. Should a law of protection against wrongfully timed evictions be implemented? 

The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act states that land and property owners need to take action against illegal occupiers of land and property within six months of the illegal act; should the owner fail to do so, the owner is required to provide temporary accommodation as part of the eviction plan. Is this act enough to base your beliefs on whether or not it is ok to evict illegal occupants? Or should the government consider re-structuring the act? Which side are you on?

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THE BIG ARTISTIC 60

A birthday full of surprises, fun, laughter, love and celebration best describes that of Pieter Fitzgerald. What He thought would be a normal birthday breakfast shared with family, friends and business colleagues turned out to be quite the contrary. Watching a bunch of dancers who are all wearing T-shirts with your face on it while indulging in your favourite breakfast at a restaurant is rather farfetched for any ordinary folk. A birthday celebrated in a truly ARTISTIC way.

Artistic Intelligence partnered with a few of South Africa’s power house crews such as Freeze Frame and Phly Nation in order to liven up the vision seen by Daphne, daughter of the honoured. A room filled with one of the best street dance minds in South Africa will always guarantee a job well done. A smooth and funky choreography piece to Pharrel Williams’ Happy seemed to be the perfect piece for the occasion.

After a year of planning in secrecy, the day had finally arrived. The joy and excitement filled the air as the Artistic Intelligence team took an early morning drive to Pretoria’s Papas Gourmet Food Restaurant in order to meet up with the dancers at the venue before the guests arrived. After a run through of the dance everyone quickly got into disguise, hiding in plain sight pretending to be customers in the restaurant.

Moments later the honoured, Pieter Fitzgerald arrived at the venue not having a clue of the surprise waiting for him. Greetings, well wishes and love embraced the honoured throughout the table. Speeches and prayers from the family and colleagues were heard. Gifts accompanied by a champagne toast in honour of Pieter had been shared and a spirit of love and warmth filled the venue. The time had come, and with no anticipation the song played and all the dancers wearing the T-shirts stood up and started grooving to the beat, including Daphne. The expression on Pieter and the invited guests was truly priceless. Seeing the joy on everyone’s faces made all the hard work and preparation seem small at that moment. A perfect way to bid Pieter Fitzgerald a happy 60th birthday.

 

To Watch the VIDEO, CLICK HERE

 

Flahsmob

Director and Marketing Manager

Pieter and Daphne Fitzgerald