Property 24/10 - 48

Water quality a global problem
Cities of the world are under threat because of water quality issues, United Nations Habitat said on Wednesday.

"The fact of the matter is that our cities in the world are under threat. Johannesburg is one of those cities," said UN Habitat spokesman Piers Cross.

Regardless of Johannesburg's water problems, it was probably one of the easiest to solve when compared to some other countries, he said.

Cross was speaking in Rosebank, at the announcement of World Water Day celebrations in Cape Town from March 20 to 22 by the water affairs department, UN Habitat and the African Ministers Council of Water.

Major infrastructure backlogs in KZN
KwaZulu-Natalhad massive housing, water, education and health infrastructure backlogs, premier Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.

"Human settlements has constructed over 500,000 housing units to date, but a huge backlog of 900,000 remains," Mkhize said in his state of the province address.

It had been made clear during the presidential coordinating committee meeting that the backlog would take decades to clear unless a different approach was taken.

Mkhize said there were also huge backlogs in the department of education, which affected schooling.

Evictions: Landlords must be wary
Investors who buy property to let, need to be aware of their responsibilities as landlords, and should familiarise themselves with the latest legislation.

If a lease is terminated against a tenant's wishes, the landlord must prove that he has presented the tenant with appropriate rental alternatives.

One of the controversial but powerful sets of new laws, says Lanice Steward MD of Anne Porter Knight Frank, are those in the PIE (Prevention of Illegal Eviction) and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.

"The clause here which has caused the most difficulty (for landlords) is that which says that, although it is acceptable to apply to the courts for the eviction of a tenant in arrears on his rent payments, the court has to be satisfied that the evicted tenant has been offered an 'equable solution' - which, in practice, usually means that the landlord is able to show that there is other similarly priced accommodation available nearby," says Steward.

Jhb to 'listen' to over-billed victims
The City of Johannesburg said on Monday that it would suspend disconnections if residents could prove that they had been over-billed.

The City of Johannesburg also promised that it would give feedback "on how the matter is being investigated and how it will be resolved" to any residents who lodged complaints.

"If the city finds or is presented with evidence to suggest that specific accounts are inaccurate or problematic, on a case-by-case basis it will suspend cut-offs until the issue is resolved," said spokesman Stanley Maphologela.

Protesters, led by DA councillor David Dewes, handed over a memorandum of demands to a representative of the city's finance department on Friday.

The small group of residents danced and sang outside the city's customer service centre in Braamfontein.

They were protesting about over-billing, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of rands, followed by disconnection if the bills were not paid.

Avg homebuyer needs to save R198k
Banks may well have steadily relaxed their deposit requirements over the past year but the average South African still needs to save a substantial R198 000 before they can enter the housing market.

Latest data from mortgage originator ooba shows that in January the average deposit required by banks dropped to 14,7% (percentage of purchase price), down from 25,3% a year ago.

That translates into just less than R143 000 if Absa's current price of R966 500 for the average medium-sized house is taken as a benchmark. Transfer duty, bond registration costs and legal fees need to be added to the equation. This amount comes to around R55 000, according to ooba's calculations, which brings the total cash amount needed to buy the average priced house to around R198 000.

Tell your agent what you want
The more information you are willing to give to your agent, the quicker you'll find the house of your dreams, at a price you can really afford.

The more information you are willing to give to your agent, the quicker you'll find the house of your dreams, at a price you can really afford.

This is the advice from Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa who says that everybody wants a bargain and for this reason, many people are often unwilling to tell agents exactly how much they can afford to spend on a property.

"The usual scenario in cases like this is that the buyer will say that they can only afford to buy a home at a much lower price than they actually can afford.

"This is done mainly for two reasons; they are testing the market to see what is out there and at the same time hope to pick up a gem for as little as possible. The other reason may be based on trust as buyers often assume that an agent is looking for the best deal for themselves and will only show them homes that are priced in the top half of the limit, hoping to secure a higher commission."

Property sale agreements - your rights
Before the shock of the fraud and corruption currently reported in the media concerning real estate agency Wendy Machanik Properties and other estate agencies wears off, consumers should take this opportunity to understand their rights when handing large sums of money to estate agents and legal practitioners.

Consumers must understand their rights when entering into property sale agreements.

The purpose of this article is twofold: the first is to emphasise the importance of reading legal documents before signing them and the second is to advise consumers on how trust monies are held and protected by relevant legislation and what recourse they have should their money be misappropriated. For the purposes of this article we limit our discussion on legal documents to property sale agreements.

The acquisition of property is usually a milestone in one's life and it all starts with the offer to purchase. This document will usually be prepared by the estate agent responsible for the sale. More often than not, agreements drafted by estate agents will stipulate that the initial deposit by the purchaser be paid to the estate agent's trust account. This condition however is not a legal requirement, and while all estate agents should not be tarred with the same brush, consumers should realise that they can insist that the deposit be placed with the transferring attorney. It may also be possible to negotiate the provision of a guarantee rather than a cash deposit depending on the particular transaction and the extent to which the seller is prepared to accept this as an alternative.

New Blouberg apartment development
A new property development with 83 apartments is to be built at Blouberg's Big Bay with prices starting from R850 000 and ranging up to R2 million for penthouse suites.

The development will comprise of one, two and three bedroom apartments, varying in size from 40sqm to over 100sqm.

The new development is named 'Azure' in recognition of the clear blue colour of the sky, says Asrin Property Developers Director, Shiraaz Hassan.

The apartments will be sited just behind Eden On The Bay mixed-use development and will benefit from being below Beach Road and within easy walking distance of the beach and retail sector.

The ground behind this sector slopes upwards, which will enable most purchasers at Azure to enjoy sea views of Table Bay and Table Mountain, says Hassan.

The development will comprise of one, two and three bedroom apartments, varying in size from 40sqm to over 100sqm. The building will have three stories with a large, secure parking basement.

Buying property as a couple
With so many couples choosing to cohabit, either deciding not to marry at all or postponing the date, buying property together can lead to some serious problems in the future.

Couples should be aware that there are instances where common law or verbal agreements may carry no weight

Frequently a couple will buy a house or an apartment together - but only one person will sign for it.

This, says Anton du Plessis CEO of Vineyard Estates, can lead to problems because the couple being partners carries no weight in law - unless it is sealed and signed under what is known as a cohabitation agreement or, alternatively, if the deed of sale stipulates that they are joint owners and specifies the extent of each person's share.

Couples should be aware that there are instances where common law or verbal agreements carry no weight. "Some people, fortunately relatively few, have thought that if one or other party can establish that the couple were in what is referred to as a common law marriage, any assets will be divided equally among them if they split - but a deed of sale will result in the property going only to the buyer or buyers who are listed," says du Plessis.

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