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Property 24/10 - 140

24 January 2013

Recourse to agent for tenant damage?
A Property24 reader asks:

I have a house in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg for which a well-renowned agency found me a tenant.  Unfortunately the tenant took 10 Nigerians for the house who were then operating a drugs laboratory and caused damage estimated at R300 000.

Would I have recourse to the agent?

Marlon Shevelew, specialist rental and eviction attorney at Cape-based legal firm Marlon Shevelew and Associates replies:

Depending on the action of the rental agent there could very well be claim in delict (damages).
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Free advice for sectional title owners
In a recent case, the trustees of a complex were in a quandary over whether they could prevent a sectional title owner from having a burly body guard stationed in the corridor outside his front door. 

Marina Constas, specialist sectional title attorney, director of BBM Attorneys and co-author of the book ‘Demistifying Sectional Title’, says they were concerned about the safety of other residents, and the negative impression being created by his presence.  She says in the end, the owner had to move his personal body guard off the common property and into his home. 

Complex rules are also a consistently thorny issue, but what rules can be upheld, and what might be considered unconstitutional? Constas says one conduct rule she encountered stated - no children will be permitted in the complex. If an owner falls pregnant, the trustees will be entitled to request that she leave the complex. 
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Commercial property rentals & deposits
South African commercial property investors will have to hold their horses for now as the party has not yet begun.

For starters, the consensus among many commercial property owners is that rentals will remain at 2012 levels and the focus for many will be retaining the tenants in order to reduce vacancies.

According to economist and UCT associate Professor, Francois Viruly, with interest rates largely expected to remain constant in 2013 and most of 2014, the performance of the South African property sector will increasingly be driven by economic growth prospects, the strength of household balance sheets and fundamentals in the property market.
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Selling property and bond cancellation
Despite regular warnings from a wide cross section of property sector spokespeople, many home sellers still fail to give the banks the obligatory 90 day notice – and then end up paying a penalty for not doing so.

This unfortunate situation, says Mike van Alphen, National Manager of the bond originators, Rawson Finance, can prove expensive because the usual penalty charge is 1% of the outstanding amount on the bond for the full 90 day period.

In most cases, he adds, the failure to give the 90 day notice comes about because the seller is simply unaware that it is required. In a few instances, however, it can be caused by the seller believing that, if he gives notice, he is then obliged to sell within 90 days.

“This is definitely not the case. Giving notice of an intention to sell and cancel the bond does not mean that the sale has to take place within any specified period.”
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RE/MAX predicts 2013 property market
As the real estate market recovered during 2012, and sales volumes and property prices increased, the criteria that South Africa’s financial institutions expected people to meet in order to qualify for mortgage loans remained difficult.

Peter Gilmour, Chairman of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says this resulted in many buyers being unable to get the finance to purchase a property. “Despite this challenge, 2012 was a solid year for real estate in South Africa.”

Gilmour explains that high debt-to-income ratios and a poor savings culture are the major reasons why many South African home buyers struggle to obtain finance. South Africa has a domestic savings rate of 20 percent of GDP while emerging markets like China have a rate of 50 percent of GDP.

"High debt and poor savings reflect negatively on affordability levels, which has held back the market and slowed down recovery," he says, adding that for this to change, South African consumers need to focus on clearing their debt and start a savings programme to ensure they can secure home loan finance in the future.
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Make sure property valuation is right
Homeowners in Cape Town must check their new municipal property valuations carefully to ensure they won’t be charged excessive property rates going forward.  The new valuations are being finalised in January and will be sent out in February.  Objections to the given valuations can be made, but there is only a short time to do so.

“The problem with municipal valuations is that they are calculated on a mass scale, using a computer-assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) system. No two properties are the same, so it stands to reason that these calculations cannot be entirely accurate,” says Francois Venter, Director of Jawitz Properties.

The document containing the new municipal valuations is known as the General Valuation Roll (GV2012), and will be certified this month. New property valuations will be sent to homeowners in February, including new property rates effective from July 2013.
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Consider future when buying property
It’s a good idea to get a foothold in the property ladder as soon as you can afford it, but when you buy your first (or any) property, you should consider your changing needs.

“While a one-bedroom apartment in the best part of town may suit your lifestyle right now, you should think about how your life might change in the next five years before closing the deal,” says Kevin Mountjoy, national sales manager at bond originator ooba. 

He explains that buying and selling a house is expensive if you consider the estate agent and lawyer fees and transfer duty. “Basically, every time you buy and sell property, you give some money to the other people involved in the process and the government,” he says. “Reducing these expenses by buying for the long term is a wise financial decision.” 

While not everyone has a predictable five-year plan in place, there are some life points to consider that should give you an idea of what might happen in the coming years. 
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Online HOA management course
With approximately 530 000 home owners' association units throughout South Africa, compared to 780 000 sectional title units, managing HOAs is a good opportunity for existing and prospective property managers.

The Home Owners' Association Management course could be just the thing you need.

Registrations close on 1 February 2013 and the course begins on 11 February for R7 800 (excl.VAT) or R8 892 (incl. VAT).

Compiled by Prof Graham Paddock, the course teaches students the legal, financial, physical and administrative aspects of home owners’ association (HOA) managementand is a 10-week part-time course presented through online distance learning.

The course material covers HOAs established as non-profit companies and common law associations and allows you to expand your expertise by completing the only specialised course in home owners' association management offered in South Africa.
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