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29 May 2020

WORKPLACE SAFETY PROTOCOL FOR ALL ESTATE AGENTS UNDER LEVEL 3 LOCKDOWN

To start work again on 1 June 2020 all estate agencies will have to adopt special protocols which will regulate activities both in the office and when you are out and about. To make it easier for you we have prepared a standard document that you can apply in your business. Just click HERE and brand and complete the document for your own use. The processes and procedures are self-explanatory.

We hope this will ease your transition back to the office and provide you with some peace of mind.

Let’s work together to beat this virus!

Warm regards

Miltons Matsemela Inc

29 May 2020

29 May 2020

LEVEL 3 LOCKDOWN – THE LATEST REGULATIONS EXPLAINED

In our short newsflash regarding the Level 3 Lockdown, published yesterday, we spread the good news about getting back to work. If you want to know more, what follows are the highlights (and lowlights) of the new regulations dated 28 May 2020. If you want to read the regulations yourself, here is a LINK.

THE MOVE TO LEVEL 3 AND THE CREATION OF HOTSPOTS

1. While the whole country will be moving to Level 3 on Monday 1 June 2020, it is clear that government sees the possibility of reclassifying certain “hotspot” areas at higher levels should they think this is necessary. Cape Town is one of the areas at risk, as it has now been officially included in a list of these “hotspots”. Also included in the list are the West Coast, Overberg and Cape Winelands district municipality.

WHO CAN TRADE?

2. All businesses can open, except for the businesses listed in Table 2 to the regulations. Included in the list of businesses than may still not operate are restaurants serving food for consumption at the point of sale; pubs; Airbnb type operations; domestic passenger air travel for leisure; conferences and events, including sports. Also prohibited from operating are personal care services such as hairdressers; certain public transport and education services; and tourist attractions, casinos and places offering entertainment activities. It is notable that all restaurants serving take-aways will now be allowed to operate. Businesses that can open can carry out all the functions of their business.

FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

3. The restriction on movement has been substantially relaxed. We are all allowed to travel to and from work, and for work purposes. We can also go out to buy any goods and services that can be sold. As expected, going to a place of worship is also allowed, provided you do not cross provincial boundaries. Regrettably however members of the public can’t cross district or municipal or provincial boundaries to buy goods or obtain a service. This will make it difficult for estate agents to show properties to prospective purchasers or tenants not living in the same district.

4. The hours for exercise have also been extended from 6am until 6pm and it appears that the radius of 5km from your house, within which you had to do your exercise, has been done away with. Just don’t exercise in a group and maintain social distancing. Non-contact professional sports training and matches are also allowed, provided there are no spectators.

5. When in public places you must always wear a mask (or other homemade item) to cover your nose and mouth.

6. Movement out of hotspots (like the Cape Town Metropolitan area) is now also regulated, just like movement between districts, municipalities and provinces. If you are crossing these boundaries for work, you will need a permit issued by your employer. If you are doing so to move to a new house, or to care for an immediate family member, you will just need an affidavit in the form as set out in Form 6 of annexure A. The form of the affidavit can be viewed HERE. Usually an affidavit can be commissioned by any commissioner of oaths (like an attorney) but in Note 1 on the form it states that the affidavit can only be signed at a magistrate’s court or a police station. So much for streamlining the process!

7. Movement is also permitted for learners and students, for attending funerals, and for obtaining medical treatment.

8. The movement of children and for those attending funerals is regulated in detail in sections 34 and 35 of the latest regulations and, in most cases, will require a permit.

EVICTIONS

9. Evictions can be granted but must be suspended to take effect (at the earliest) on the last day of Alert Level 3. If there are compelling circumstances a court may make an order to allow the eviction to take place at an earlier date.

GATHERINGS

10. All gatherings remain prohibited, with certain exceptions, including:

  • religious gatherings, with a maximum number of 50 people. The number could be less depending on the space available, but never more than 50;
  • workplace gatherings for work;
  • funerals; and
  • professional non-contact sports matches, without spectators.

TRADITIONAL INITIATION PRACTICES

11. All traditional initiation practices are prohibited during Lockdown Level 3.

MOST NON-COMMERCIAL PLACES REMAIN CLOSED

12. These include gyms, sports grounds, fêtes, clubs, casinos, game reserves, bars, taverns, shebeens, theatres, cinemas, beaches and public parks. Hotels and guest houses must also stay closed unless they are providing accommodation for people under quarantine or providing essential services; or for people who are travelling for work.

SOCIAL VISITS

13. Social visits to places of detention, hospitals and residential facilities for the elderly are prohibited. Because we are prohibited from leaving our houses, except for specified purposes, social visits to friends’ homes are also not allowed.

INTERNATIONAL BORDERS CLOSED

14. Our international borders remain closed, except for diplomatic and humanitarian travel purposes.

TRANSPORTATION OF CARGO

15. The import and export of cargo, and the transporting of goods around the country, whether by road, rail, sea, or air is allowed.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

16. We can expect additional regulations as the various modes of public transport resume to facilitate the movement of people for work. This will include the resumption of domestic air travel for work.

THE SALE OF ALCOHOL

17. The sale of liquor will be allowed from Monday to Thursday between 9am and 5pm. No liquor may be sold on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Liquor, for consumption off the premises, will be able to be sold in the usual way from shops and bottle stores, and also from restaurants, bars, shebeens and taverns that hold a license to serve alcohol for consumption on the premises.

18. These liquor outlets can start stocking up for the inevitable demand from Friday 29 May 2020.

CIGARETTES AND TOBACCO

19. All tobacco products and e-cigarettes remain prohibited.

THE OPERATION OF BUSINESSES

20. Businesses with more than 100 staff members must limit the number of people at work by rotating staff, staggering working hours, working shifts, and working from home, to achieve social distancing.

21. Health protocols and social distancing measures must also be implemented for domestic workers.

22. Special measures must be adopted to protect those over 60 and those with co-morbidities.

23. The obligations on companies with more than 500 staff members are even more far reaching.

24. All sectors or industry bodies must develop specific protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19 in their sector. Here is a LINK to the protocols developed by REBOSA for application in the real estate sector.

COMPLIANCE OFFICER

25. Each business that can operate must appoint a Compliance Officer to develop and enforce workplace protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19.

CONCLUSION

26. Government has clearly woken up to the need to start saving the economy, even if this is at the expense of more lives lost to COVID-19. This is a delicate balancing act, and whatever the government does they will be criticised by one group or another. Their response has not been perfect, and it never will be. That is why we need to consider our own personal response to the pandemic and make choices that fit in with our own circumstances, especially now that we are going to be working again.

27. Firstly, and most importantly, we need to protect others from ourselves. We do this by behaving as if we already have the virus and by acting in a way that prevents it from spreading.

28. Secondly, we need to analyse our own risk profile and act in way that takes this into account. The risk that we ultimately bear is the risk of death, so we need to take this extremely seriously.

29. Both of these goals can be advanced by adopting the sensible approach of wearing a mask, by the regular washing of hands, and by keeping a safe distance from others. These practices should now become second nature.

30. It is easy to criticise the regulations that have been implemented, but the vast majority of the ideas are being implemented for the general wellbeing of us all. We therefore urge you to take the rules seriously and to play by them. Your survival, or the survival of a family member or a friend might depend on it.

Warmest regards,

Miltons Matsemela Inc
28 May 2020

25 May 2020

LEVEL 3 LOCKDOWN – HERE WE COME

It seems that the day that the property industry has been waiting for is almost here and we can slowly begin to breathe again!

Having heard the President’s address last night and having read a set of proposed regulations dated 20 May, indications are that all estate agents (residential and commercial) will soon be able to return to business, after a mind numbing 66 days in lockdown!

If the draft regulations are to be passed into law, this will mean that, from 1 June 2020 and during Level 3, all estate agents can carry out all their functions, provided that they implement measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

We must however emphasize that the final Regulations have yet to be published, and we have had some nasty surprises in the past where the Regulations that were published did not follow the President’s script. In addition, Cape Town, and other “hotspots”, seem to have been singled out for special treatment, and we might therefore still have restrictions in place that operate locally.  Whatever happens, we will let you know.

In closing, and as excited as we all are to see this moment arrive, please remember that we are still far from being out of the woods. Infections remain on the increase, particularly in the Mother City, so please, wear your masks, disinfect and maintain a safe distance apart.

As our President said, it is now in our hands!

22 May 2020

CAPE TOWN DEEDS OFFICE CLOSURE

We have received confirmation from the Cape Town Attorneys Association that the Cape Town Deeds Office and Surveyor General offices have closed with immediate effect due to a staff member having been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19. The offices are being closed for decontamination.

No indication has been given as to when the respective offices will open again, but we will monitor the situation and will advise as soon as we receive information on when theses offices will re-open.

Regards,

Miltons Matsemela Inc

21 May 2020

YET ANOTHER DROP IN INTEREST RATES!

The repo rate (rate at which the Reserve bank lends money to the retail banks) has been reduced by yet a further 0.5%! As such the repo rate will now be 3.75% (down from 4.25%) and the prime lending rate, will be 7.25% (down from 7.75%)

How will this affect your pocket? On a home loan of R2 000 000, repayable at a prime interest rate of 7.25% over 20 years, your payment will now be R15 807.52, whilst at 7.75% it would have been R16 418.97. This signifies a reduction of R611,45pm.

Stay safe and hope to see you all soon again!

20 May 2020
19 May 2020

Deeds Office Update – Lodgements suspended until further notice

We have just learnt from Cape Town Attorneys’ Association, that ALL FURTHER LODGEMENTS of deeds are to be suspended as from 20 May 2020 (tomorrow) until further notice due to issues with the Unions. Registrations etc can still take place but we cannot lodge.

We will keep you updated.

14 May 2020

MORE FREEDOM TO MOVE HOME AND BUSINESS

The good doctor Zuma has apparently had second thoughts about restricting the movement of people to their new house or business during the level 4 lockdown.

In some poorly drafted regulation notice published this afternoon, 14 May 2020, she has indicated her intention to “facilitate the movement of persons” moving house, moving as a result of domestic violence, or moving their business to new premises. All of these people are now entitled to move as desired, and they can transport their furniture and effects to the new place of residence or business. The previous deadline of 7 June has now also been abandoned.

Once again, if you need to cross provincial, municipal or district boundaries, you will require a permit, which can now be obtained from the “head of court” as well as a station commander at a police station, or their designated representative.

The form of the permit can be found here.

To obtain the permit you will be required to produce:

• the relevant lease agreements indicating the date of expiry of the old lease or the date of commencement of the new lease, or
• the proof of purchase of residence and occupation date, or
• the transfer documents attesting to the change of ownership of property, or
• a domestic violence order, or
• proof of change or new occupation of business premises.

You should also have the relevant documents in your possession when you travel.

Our take on these regulations is that we should not become too bogged down in the detail. They are not a model of clarity and it is easy to criticise the drafting. Let’s accept that restrictions are being lifted make use of the additional freedoms as needed.

Warmest regards
Miltons Matsemela Inc.

14 May 2020

MY BOND HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN BY THE BANK! IS THE DEED OF SALE STILL BINDING?

We have now had a few transfers where the banks have withdrawn bonds that were approved prior to lockdown because of a change in the buyer’s financial position. Flowing from this, the questions on everyone’s lips are:

  1. If the deed of sale was conditional on a bond being granted, is the sale still binding after the bond has been withdrawn; and, if so,
  2. If the purchaser cannot then pay the purchase price, and the contract is cancelled as a result of this, will the purchaser be liable to pay damages, for example, the agent’s commission?

The short and sad answer to both of these questions is yes.

A large percentage of deeds of sale are subject to the grant of bonds and these bonds must usually be granted on the bank’s standard terms and conditions. In their standard T’s & C’s, all the banks we deal with reserve the right to withdraw the bond, right up to the date of registration.

A bond that is granted which includes this right of withdrawal is therefore granted on standard T’s & C’s and will be sufficient to meet the requirements of the bond clause in the deed of sale. Furthermore, once the bond has been granted and the condition in the deed of sale has been met, the later withdrawal of the bond will not turn back the clock. The sale will remain binding and it is the purchaser who bears the risk of the consequences of such a withdrawal.

After a purchaser has accepted a bond on these terms, the position is even clearer, as the purchaser has then accepted the bond on the T’s & C’s set out in the letter of grant. The purchaser has therefore given up the right to allege that the bond was not approved on standard T’s & C’s, and the purchaser again bears the risk that the bond might be withdrawn.

In closing then, it is our view that if a purchaser cannot afford to go ahead with the sale as a result of the withdrawal of a bond that was properly granted, the seller can use this default to cancel the agreement, and the purchaser will be liable for damages. These damages might include the estate agents commission, wasted attorney’s costs and the difference in the purchase price if the property is then sold for a lower purchase price. If there is a deposit, this will be used towards covering these losses.

The bottom line is that this is a risk every buyer must assume if he wants to buy property and finance it with a bond.

Miltons Matsemela Inc
Deon Welz & Robert Krautkramer
May 2020

12 May 2020

DEEDS OFFICE OPERATIONS – UPDATE

Good News from the Deeds Office!

We have just received correspondence from the Deputy Register of Deeds confirming that the Deeds Office will be open to Conveyancers from tomorrow, Wednesday 13 May. A copy of the letter can be read here.

This is certainly good news and we will be there tomorrow to do as much as we can.

We will keep you posted on developments

Warmest regards
Miltons Matsemela

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