On Wednesday 2 October two pieces of legislation were signed into law by president Cyril Ramaphosa that directly impact the property industry.

One is the Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Bill which will see the development of an electronic deeds registration system (also known as e-DRS) which is expected improve the turn-around time for providing deeds and documents to clients.

The other is the much anticipated and oft debated Property Practitioners Bill which will replace the 43-year old Estate Agency Affairs Act of 1976. According to the Property Practitioners Bill the Estate Agency Affairs Board is to be replaced as regulatory body by the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority.

In addition, under the Bill, “property practitioner” has a very broad meaning and states: “ will now include a bond broker, home inspector, facilitator of an agreement of sale or lease (including a Homeowners’ Association), a seller of timeshare or fractional title, a property manager and a property developer.”

An ombud will be established and a ruling is equivalent to a Magistrate’s Court Order.

In regards to Fidelity Fund Certificates (“FFC”), all grounds for disqualification from the current Act remain in the new Bill. However, the following additions are made:

  • A five-year time frame has been introduced with regards to offences committed from the date of application for an FCC. If an offence as committed in this five-year period, it shall not be a ground for disqualification
  • Where a person is found guilty of an offence involving dishonesty, such an offence shall only constitute a ground for automatic disqualification if the person has been sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine
  • Persons applying for an FCC must be in possession of a valid tax clearance certificate from SARS
  • Valid BBBEE Certificate
  • Persons on National Treasury’s list of tender defaulters shall be disqualified from obtaining an FCC

These bills will definitely evolve the industry and therefore a more thorough consideration of the changes is needed on the part of any practitioner or role-player in the industry.