Tag Archive | Consumer Protection Act

Property Practitioners Bill will protect buyers

Property market will see major changes…..

lindiwe sisuluMinister Lindiwe Sisulu has stated that what will be termed “home inspectors” will have a far greater role to play than the present process of various clearance certificates that are produced before the sale of home property can take place.

At present, a Property Practitioners Bill changing the landscape in respect of the way property changes hands is in the process of drafting by the department of human settlements, she told Parliament.

Also at present, buyers only have recourse to the Consumer Protection Act, which is both vague on affected issues and out of reach financially for many should recourse  be sought, she noted.

In relation to this problem now being experienced by many buyers, particularly in lower income situations, new legislation is in draft form revising the selling/buying process in the home property industry. This has come about mainly as a result of the fact that the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) now falls under the ambit of the department of human settlements (DHS).

Doing it better for the buyer

The wish of DHS, says the Minister, is to prioritise for new rules that will place a heavier onus on estate agents/realtors to provide a much deeper level of advice to prospective purchasers and to engage a properly trained and certified home inspector for the sale.

Consequently, it is hoped that there be will a raised level of awareness on the part of sellers and theirmechanic agents that more is required of them before a sale can take place. At the present moment, varying from province to province, just a gas, plumbing and electrical clearance is called for – and sometimes a “beetle certificate” for wood borers, anciently known as the deathwatch beetle, and non-existent in most parts of SA.

Not just a name

Yet to be fully drafted, this Property Practitioners Bill will shortly go to the State Law Advisor aimed at tightening up on many such aspects of the property market industry. The main stakeholder, the EAAB, appears to be working with DHS to achieve a number of objectives, such as re-naming estate agents as “property practioners” and increasing their responsibility for more informed advice to the buyer.

Part of the re-structuring is also that EAAB may become known as the Property Practitioners’ Regulatory Authority (PPRA) registering those acceptable on a criteria basis and upgrading the industry’s level of responsibility at law to avoid “commission hunters looking for a fast sale” at the expense of a truthful and an expert assessment of the property in question.

Getting it going

The new Bill, the department says, will upgrade many of the practices selling home property; will set out provisions for the establishment of this new authority; re-emphasize and tighten up on certain aspects of governance in the industry; regulate for property home inspectors/surveyors; and regulate for their registration by the new authority before they can be part of any sale process.

Where the big change will come, it seems, is in the area of generalised consumer protection, which it is proposed will fall under the common jurisprudence of the new authority rather than relate to the Consumer Protection Act.

It is suspected that many more possible registered “home inspectors” than that who potentially exist at the moment will have to be trained and registered by the new authority before the current volume of sales can be processed. This may call for the Bill to be introduced in stages.

Buyer beware

house for saleWhilst the practice in the past on property sales has been on the basis of voetstoets enabling sellers to walk away from known faults, this has left home purchasers particularly vulnerable and with only recourse to the courts, an expensive process.

In terms of the proposed Bill, a clause will apply setting out that the seller is exempt from the authority of the new body replacing the EAAB, leaving only the consumer as a possible aggrieved party subject the result of the appointment of a registered home inspector and a properly informed property professional.

Tightening up

The Consumer Protection Commission has stated that as things stand at present estate agents are responsible for all advice and a satisfactory outcome of a sale in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, yet the whole area is vague at law with many experts differing on expected outcomes.

It is hoped that the new proposals will clarify much in this area which has been described by the EAAB itself as a “legal quagmire” and to make the sale of a home a “less stressful and time consuming process” for the buyer.

Other articles in this category or as background
White Paper on Human Settlements shortly for comment. – ParlyReportSA
Rental Housing Amendment Bill goes for country coverage
Spatial planning bill ends long journey in Parliament – ParlyReportSA

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