Property Practitioners Bill signed into law

The Property Practitioners Bill has finally been signed into law by the President. What happens now?
On Wednesday 2 October two pieces of legislation were signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa that directly impact the property industry to a lesser and greater degree respectively.
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 to 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. The new bill is expected to help fast-track the slow-moving transformation of the property sector and is aimed at improving the regulation of the property market, yet has raised a lot of concerns with industry body Rebosa as well as other role players in the industry. Some of these concerns have been addressed during the public participation process prior to the tabling of the bill but there are many that weren’t resolved. The Department of Human Settlements did indicate that the regulations governing how the new bill will be implemented will address some of the pending issues.

Property Practitioners Bill signed into law – the next step?

So, what does it mean now that the bills have been signed into law? Do things start to change immediately – to name but one change, according to the Property Practitioners Bill the Estate Agency Affairs Board is to be replaced as a regulatory body by the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority. When will this happen?
According to legal advice provided to Rebosa there’s no need to panic as nothing will happen until a formal declaration has been made through the Government Gazette that the new law is enacted. S77 of what is now the Property Practitioners Act provides that “This Act is called the Property Practitioners Act, 2018, and comes into operation on a date fixed by the President by proclamation in the Gazette“. The Act will therefore not become law before such promulgation occurs in the Government Gazette.
Rebosa has been advised that from a practical perspective, before the Act can be implemented, the relevant regulations need to be prepared, in the absence of which, it is not possible to properly implement the Act. As at this point in time, no draft regulations have yet been published. It, therefore, seems unlikely that the Act will become law during the course of 2019. Further, it is noted that in some cases, legislation has been signed but years after the fact has still not come into operation.
“Much as the Bill was promoted as the silver bullet to affect transformation, I’m afraid some of the promoters will be disappointed. Real transformation challenges have not been addressed and the Bill creates as many challenges as it was supposed to address. Unfortunately, contrary to the department’s belief, the acknowledged problems and inconsistencies in the Bill cannot be addressed by regulations alone. Rebosa is, however, fully prepared to comment on draft regulations when published. The industry will be kept informed,” says Jan le Roux, chief executive of Rebosa.
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