As South Africa’s 21-day lockdown approaches at midnight tonight and the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continue to evolve, we all face our own uncertain future. This is undoubtedly the biggest challenge our nation has faced in decades. Though the severity and economic impact of the pandemic varies amongst sectors with tourism and airlines being one of the most severely affected, the impact on the real estate industry is also unprecedented. Foremost, I would like to extend my best wishes for the health and safety of all our members, their families and loved ones.
I also wish to notify our members that we are open for ‘business unusual’. Rebosa has always operated a virtual office and as such our operations will continue as normal. While the EAAB remains closed it will not be possible to follow up on queries etc. but we are working hard behind the scenes with all levels of government and stakeholders to ensure the economic interests of our members are secured.
Briefly, we have approached the EAAB for a dispensation of the CPD fee. The Chairperson has responded positively and you can read more about it in the content of the report below. Rebosa will also waive its April subscription fee.
On behalf of our members we will explore all avenues open to us to ensure our industry is represented.
It is incumbent upon all of us to give our full co-operation to curb the spread of Covid-19 and “flatten the curve”.
We join opposition leaders, business and civil society in praising our President for his decisive action to protect the lives of South African’s against the scourge of this virus – #StongerTogether
For updates on Covid-19 and steps government are taking please go to https://www.gov.za/
The lock-down, necessary as it is, brings not only financial hardship but incredible inconvenience as well. Thousands of tenants and home buyers/sellers have contracted to move at the end of this month but will unfortunately not be able to do so.
Occupation dates will have to be re-negotiated in a period of extreme uncertainty and with the hope that the lock-down period will not be extended, which is always possible. We have approached the EAAB in this regard but have as yet not received any response (it must of course be noted that the offices of the EAAB are closed).
We have also approached the Presidency, Dti and the CGIS. A spokesperson from the CGIS conveyed that the lockdown means no person will be able to move from their property and that no exceptions will be made. In this regard we were referred to the latest Disaster Management Regulations gazetted which we attach below for your perusal.
We also approached our attorneys and below is the response received from them:-
You asked us what the anticipated situation is in relation to lease arrangements which begin and end during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown which is due to start at midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020 and continue for a period of 21 days. The regulations relating to the lockdown have now been published. It appears to be clear that no people will be allowed to leave their places of residence (or wherever they are then located) unless they are attending to “essential work” (which would include healthcare workers, SAPS and the like) or are going to purchase food or medical supplies. Our understanding is that there will be no relaxation of the lockdown principles in order to enable people to relocate from one place to another (whether we are talking about residential relocation or commercial relocation). This is the position as we currently understand it and we do not expect it to change.
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr”
Obviously due to the lock down, all public participation processes for both the Property Practitioners 2020 Regulations and Land Expropriation without Compensation – (amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution) have been cancelled.
In addition the deeds office will be closed as from 26/03/2020, councils will not be issuing clearance certificates and the Master’s office has been closed until further notice.
Rebosa Fee Holiday
We understand the pressure everyone is under and have made the decision to not invoice for membership fees for April 2020. We all have to work together to pull through this difficult time.
Extending deadline for payment or reduction of CPD Fees
Rebosa have approached the EAAB to extend the payment deadline for CPD fees due 31 March 2020. We have further requested a reduction of the fee given the current situation.
We are pleased that the EAAB have responded favourably as per the email below and we will communicate with you once we have been advised of their decision.
From: Chairman of EAAB
Subject: CPD Fees
Date: 25 March 2020 at 15:05:55 SAST
To: Jan Le Roux
Dear Mr Le Roux
The Board is aware of the difficulties. There are discussions and consultations underway. We will make the necessary announcements when they are settled.
Outstanding 2020 FFCs
We are aware that many agents are still without FFCs for 2020. We are also aware that FFCs have been issued with incorrect Agent and Firm details.
We remain committed to resolving these issues but the EAAB have been closed due to the Coronavirus for the past 2 weeks and will be closed during the lockdown.
Whilst we share your frustration, please understand that Rebosa has no access to the EAABs systems. We are also aware that the system is often down and dysfunctional. The EAAB is experiencing more technical difficulties than ever before and while their systems remain challenged it is extremely difficult for us to get the desired results.
If you have sent your query to us, please be assured that it is receiving our urgent attention. Due to the high number of queries we are dealing with it is impossible to respond to each case individually. We ask for your patience and understanding in this regard.
We have also approached the Minister to intervene as we are very concerned that the situation is not improving and that issuing of certificates under the new Act will be too challenging for the EAAB to handle.
Audit Challenge in Leap Year – Firms with February Financial Year End and Submission of Audit Reports
In the leap year of 2016, the EAABs system either rejected, did not recognise or automatically changed the year end date of audit reports which were dated 29th February. The IT system was not configured to change the effective month end date to accommodate the Leap Year.
This caused enormous headaches for firms who were sent notifications that their audit reports could not be verified and accompanied by requests for documents to be submitted, failing which they would be in contravention of the Act.
Rebosa has brought this to the attention of the EAAB CEO to avoid this happening again in June when audit reports will be submitted by Firms with February financial year end.
Where possible it will be advantageous to submit your audit reports long before the cut-off date so as to have time to address any problems that may arise.
We will keep you updated on the developments around this issue.
Land Expropriation without Compensation
The Parliamentary AD-HOC Committee on the amendment of Section 25 of the constitution of SA have invited comments from the public in support of or opposition to the CONSTITUTION EIGHTEENTH AMENDMENT BILL.
Access the bill below:
Rebosa submitted detailed commentary outlining our concerns and the potential drawbacks and consequences for the economy, should this Bill be passed.
The Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Act
The Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Act (EDRSA) was signed into law on 2 October 2019. Only section 2 of the Act is at present operational. The Act authorises the Chief registrar of Deeds to implement a system for electronic registration of deeds.
The e-DRS will ultimately replace the current manual preparation and lodgement procedures prescribed in the 1937 Deeds Registries Act and the 1986 Sectional Titles Act.
We asked Maryna Botha a Director at STBB to unpack the Act and her article can be found on Rebosa’s website https://www.rebosa.co.za/the-electronic-deeds-registration-systems-act/
The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA)
The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) was signed into law in 2013. Ever since, business has been advised that POPIA’s coming into full operation was imminent, but we are still awaiting this to happen. Recently the Information Regulator asked the President to proclaim the POPIA commencement date as 1 April 2020 (which means the effective compliance deadline will be 1 April 2021).
However given the current state of affairs, commentators are not convinced that 1 April will be the date for coming into operation. This should not translate into procrastination. We believe you should all be doing what is reasonably practical in your business to start aligning your practices with the requirements of the POPIA, appoint an Information Officer, train your staff, put policies in place, because ultimately it is coming.