The long-awaited Property Practitioners Act finally came into effect this year and brings with it significant changes to the real estate industry. The Act takes a more consumer-focused approach and is premised on the need for transformation in the property sector.
The Act has widened its scope of application by consolidating all role players in the real estate industry under the same Act. The concept of a property practitioner is therefore not confined to real estate agents only but includes property developers, property managers and bridging financiers among others.
The limitation on the relationship between property practitioners and other real estate service providers
As aforementioned, the Act takes a more consumer-focused approach and is primarily aimed at protecting the consumer. This is evident in section 58 of the Act, which states, inter alia, that a property practitioner may not enter into an agreement that obligates or encourages a consumer to use a particular real estate service provider, including an attorney, to render a service in respect of a transaction of which that property practitioner was the effective cause. The Act then further provides that any person who renders services in contravention of this section is not entitled to remuneration.
All property practitioners must be in possession of a Fidelity Fund Certificate
In addition to the above, the Act also makes it mandatory for all property practitioners to be holders of a Fidelity Fund Certificate issued by the newly established Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority. Furthermore, the practitioner must also be in possession of a Tax Clearance Certificate, as well as a BEE certificate. In terms of section 56 of the Act, a practitioner shall not be entitled to remuneration or payment if at the time of the performance of their duties the practitioner was not in possession of a Fidelity Fund Certificate. The Act makes it mandatory for a conveyancer to first request this certificate from the property practitioner before making any payment to the practitioner. This provision will ensure that sellers and buyers deal with properly qualified practitioners.
Mandatory disclosure of defects
Lastly, one of the most significant changes that the Act brings forth is the obligation of sellers to now disclose any defects on the property that they are aware of. The Act compels sellers to make a written disclosure to potential buyers of all the defects on the property. The written disclosure must be signed by all parties and must be attached to the offer to purchase. In terms of section 67 of the Act, the property practitioner cannot accept a mandate if this written disclosure is not produced.
In light of the aforementioned, it is clear that the new Act primarily aims to protect the interests of the consumer. Consumers should therefore make use of the protection afforded to them in terms of the Act and before signing any offer to purchase, make sure that there is a written disclosure by the seller setting out all the defects on the property. They should also ensure that the property practitioner is in possession of a Fidelity Fund Certificate that has been issued by the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority before mandating the practitioner to render his or her services.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)