Property 24/10 - 532

Key ULTRA law against apartheid land discrimination to be reversed, 'dispossessing +4m homeowners'
South Africans discriminated against under Apartheid, who were granted ownership of their own land through the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act (ULTRA), are about to become dispossessed if a proposed amendment bill meant to empower women through land ownership is passed. Yet, ULTRA itself is not the correct source of the gender disparity, and changes to it will create unintended consequences that will see "about 4-million people lose their rights to land ownership", according to the Free Market Foundation’s Leon Louw.

“The Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act, ULTRA, is arguably South Africa’s most important law, yet very few know about it. If the ULTRA Amendment Bill now before Parliament is enacted, it will cause the biggest expropriation without compensation ever, perhaps 4m homes impacting 16m low-income black people” says Louw.

“The Constitutional Court ordered the Amendment due to a misunderstanding that the original 1991 Act discriminates against women. This is untrue. The Amendment should be scrapped. The FMF’s Khaya Lam (My Home) Land Reform project has been successfully using ULTRA to issue title deeds to rightful owners for 10 years.

SA's 'rental price crash continues'
The South African rental market recorded new lows in September 2020, with growth measuring just 1% over the same month in 2019. According to the PayProp Rental Index, rental growth has plummeted for two consecutive quarters, with Q2 and Q3 following the same general downward trend seen over the course of the previous year.

Head of Data and Analytics at PayProp, Johette Smuts says, “It’s not surprising to see low rental growth continuing and high levels of arrears being reported. We’re hoping that the worst is over, but it’s important to note that it’s going to take a considerable amount of time for the market to recover.”

Effects of lockdown
Delving into the data, Smuts says that the lacklustre growth continued even after most South Africans returned to work following the period of lockdown.

“With a large number of households suffering a partial or total loss of income this year, many are worse off financially compared to the beginning of the year when economic pressures were already taking their toll,” says Smuts. She says that considering these circumstances, affordability continues to be a major factor in persistently low rental growth.

Banks could refuse home loans in ST schemes that don't have a Reserve Fund
Sectional Title schemes that are not yet compliant with the reserve fund provisions of the Community Housing Schemes Ombud Services (CSOS) Act should rectify that position as soon as possible.

So says Andrew Schaefer, MD of national property management company Trafalgar, who notes that since the Act was passed in 2016, the CSOS Ombud is likely to take a “dim view” of schemes that haven’t yet set up a reserve fund to cover long-term, planned maintenance activities.

'Special levies and investment risk'
Apart from contravening the provisions of the CSOS Act, there are two other important reasons for schemes to become compliant, says Schaefer. The first of these is to avoid having to impose special levies when any major repair or maintenance work outside of the day-to-day running of the complex becomes necessary. “Special levies are loathed by owners, are notoriously difficult to collect and make it more difficult to attract potential buyers to units that are for sale.

Rental disputes? | How to resolve them without incurring legal costs
The impact of the national lockdown has led to the reduction of household income for many South Africans, leaving many tenants unable to afford their rent. In these trying times, it is understandable how disputes can arise between a tenant and his or her landlord. However, landlords and tenants can seek council from the Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT).

When is rent payable, and when is it late?
Rent is payable on the first of the month and is considered late by day two of the month. Many tenants are under the impression that they have a seven-day grace period to pay, but this is not true. The owner is allowed to place the tenant in breach if the rental does not clear the landlord/agent's account on the first.

A landlord is well within his or her rights to send a letter of demand on the second day of the month if the rental was not received. The tenant will be afforded 20 business days to remedy the breach. If the tenant does not remedy the breach within 20 business days, the landlord will be entitled to cancel the agreement effective immediately and to give the tenant notice to vacate.

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