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73% drop | A look at the impact of Covid-19 on deeds registrations in South Africa
South Africa's deeds offices have been battling with the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic, as office closures and scaled down staff regiments under very "trying conditions" have only served to exacerbate the issues facing this important part of the Property Industry value chain.

The 11 Deeds Offices around the country are still experiencing backlogs, with Cape Town suffering severe backlogs during June specifically.

As a result of the pandemic, the deeds offices have had to implement system restructuring in order to adhere to hygiene and safety protocol requirements within the work place, with "additional space secured for Cape Town examiners in Mowbray to have more staff available for examination of deeds", the Office of the Chief Registrar of Deeds confirmed to Property24.

The turnaround time for a completed registration is usually 7 working days, however under the current circumstances it is not possible to meet this normal turnaround time due to "reduced number of staff as well as decontamination exercises", the Deeds Office has noted.

Covid-19 relief measures for Estate Agents to be clarified
Penalties for late audits and fees for continuous professional development (CPD) training have been waived as part of relief measures for Estate Agents, with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) set to publish further details by 31 July.

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu confirmed the concessions as part of her Covid-19 impact relief measures during her Budget Vote address on 21 July.

These measures were proposed by the National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC) to the EAAB in May to ease some of the financial pressures on the real estate sector during the pandemic. The NPPC, as a new representative council was formed in April to help provide a united organisation for property practitioners for issues impacting the industry.

Interest rate drop to add to property rebound, with reports of 'record breaking activity'
Globally, conditions are expected to remain unpredictable during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Accordingly, the South African Reserve Bank has stressed once again that in “this highly uncertain environment, future decisions will continue to be highly data dependent and sensitive to the balance of risks to the outlook.”

This follows another 25 basis points cut to the repo rate, which brings the prime lending rate to 7% - boding well for a rebound of the hard-hit South African property market.

I've just signed a lease agreement but want to cancel, what do I do?
A A Property24 Reader asks, "I would like to know if I am liable for paying a breach fee if I decide to not rent the apartment, I signed the lease but did not pay the deposit or administration fee."

Property Expert Jaco Rademeyer replies:
In a situation such as the above, there are different rules that apply depending on the nature of the agreement and the timing of certain actions. Should the Agreement of Lease be subject to the application of the Consumer Protection Act, there are two important provisions to take note of:

1. The consumers right to cooling-off in terms of section 16:
This entitles the tenant to cancel a lease within 5 (five) business of concluding the agreement without reason or penalty. The landlord would then need to reimburse the tenant of any monies paid in advance. It is important to take note however that this right can only be invoked provided the agreement was concluded as the result of direct marketing.

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