New property law changes proposed for South Africa

The opposition Democratic Alliance aims to make changes to the country’s existing property legislation in the coming months as part of a move to tackle the country’s housing crisis.

Presenting the party’s housing and housing-related urban development plan on Thursday (7 April), DA MP Emma Louise Powell said this will include proposed changes around RDP homes and land grabs.

  • The National Housing Act needs to be amended to address the current eight-year prohibition on selling government-subsidised houses. This Act makes it illegal for recipients of subsidised houses to trade up or leverage their assets to generate capital. “This bizarre restriction must be removed,” said Powell
  • The DA also plans to address illegal land grabs in the country by tabling an amendment to the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act, which Powell said permits for expropriation of property without compensation and allows land grabbers to jump the housing queue.

“While the DA recognises that many people need government’s help to access housing, satisfying the growing need now requires partnership from a range of government departments, as well as the private sector.

“This must be underpinned by a variety of innovative housing options and the availability of smart, environmentally friendly and cost-effective building typologies,” Powell said.

Land expropriation and other changes

The ruling ANC is also expected to move forward with property law changes in the coming months – most notably a proposal to introduce land expropriation without compensation.

While the party failed in a move to change the Constitution to allow for land expropriation in 2021, the party is now expected to enact the changes through legislation.

“Changing the Constitution was just one instrument we could have used,” Justice minister Ronald Lamola said in a December interview. “The matter is now ended. We will now use our simple majority to pass laws that will allow for expropriation without compensation.”

Most opposition parties warned that the ANC’s proposals would undermine property rights and investor confidence, while the populist Economic Freedom Fighters said they didn’t go far enough.

Parliament is also expected to consider the Land Court Bill and the Housing Consumer Protection Bill in 2022.

“The Land Court Bill, which will allow for the establishment of a specialist Land Court as well as a Land Court of Appeal, is specifically aimed at accelerating the country’s land reform programme as well as resolving backlogs and disputes around land claims,” said legal firm Fluxmans.

“The Bill gives effect to ensure our approach to land reform is based on three elements – increased security of tenure, land restitution and land redistribution,” it said.

The Housing Consumer Protection Bill was previously tabled in May 2021.

“The Bill seeks to ensure adequate protection of housing consumers and effective regulation of the home building industry, introduce contractual provisions to protect new entrants into the home building industry, and address provisions such as a warranty fund surplus.”

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