More protection on the cards for property buyers - Industry, News
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More protection on the cards for property buyers

02 Jan 2019

The Property Practitioners Bill (PPB), which was recently passed in parliament is good news for future home buyers as it moves South Africa one step closer to regulating the conduct of estate agents, bond brokers, home inspectors, property managers and developers.

The objective of the bill is the protection of consumer rights and the upliftment of a larger percentage of the population in the property sector by safeguarding the interests of, particularly, first-time home buyers. These individuals are most at risk of being exploited as currently the law does not sufficiently protect them in terms of structural and contractual issues that may arise post buying.

This is an area in which regulation was previously lacking in South Africa, says Sheldon Jennings, architect and founder of Archicheck, national property inspection firm that employs professional architects.

Jennings, who attended the stakeholder engagement session earlier this year along with representatives from Real Estate Business Owners of SA (REBOSA), the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) and the South African Council for Property Valuers Profession (SACPVP) among others, says great strides were made towards ironing out flaws in the current system.

“The objective of the bill is the protection of consumer rights and the upliftment of a larger percentage of the population in the property sector by safeguarding the interests of particularly first-time home buyers. These individuals are most at risk of being exploited as currently the law does not sufficiently protect them in terms of structural and contractual issues that may arise post buying,” says Jennings.

He says the fact that a ‘voetstoots’ clause is still included in many buying agreements is evidence of how far behind we are in comparison to First World property markets.

“Most markets are already supported with more robust legislation to protect home buyers - in the USA for instance, the purchase is only concluded once a thorough inspection and report has been issued in 80% of cases,” says Jennings.

“While great strides have been made, there are still some glaring issues that came to light in the parliament sitting. One such issue is an overlap between existing regulatory bodies such as the South African Council for Architectural Professionals (SACAP), REBOSA, SACPVP and the newly proposed Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA). This overlap will lead to unnecessary fees and examinations for professionals within the industry, and the knock-on effect will ultimately increase the cost for consumers.”

It is thus necessary to exempt certain professionals who are already registered with a governing body from having to register with the PPRA as well, he says.

“Another well-received suggestion was making a property inspection a standard step in the buying process. This will ensure that homeowners are aware of any structural defects before committing to buying, and inspectors will also be regulated to protect the public from opportunistic, sub-par service providers. Currently no legislation ensures that property inspectors possess the knowledge and necessary expertise to issue a quality report.”

Jennings explains that while the process will still take some time to finalise, it is good first step, and will certainly bolster the existing market to make protective legislation more robust and stimulate the entry of first-time home buyers to market.

“The Department of Human Settlements is now in the driving seat, and the industry awaits the next steps in anticipation,” he says.

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