Another rumour that is causing anxiety in our industry is that, as from October 2020, no property will be able to be transferred unless a certificate in terms of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) has been obtained from the municipality. The main purpose of this Certificate will be to confirm that all improvements on the land are built in accordance with approved building plans and comply with the zoning scheme.
Thankfully, this is not true, at least not in the Western Cape.
The confusion appears to have arisen because we have SPLUMA, which is a law that applies to the whole country, and a by-law in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, that applies only in Emalahleni, which has a similar name.
SPLUMA, which was passed in 2015, applies nationally, and requires provinces and municipalities to pass provincial and local laws to govern land use and land development in their provinces and municipalities within 5 years (which is where the 2020 deadline appears to come from).
It does however not specifically state that before a property can be transferred, a certificate to confirm approved building plans and zoning is required.
The similarly named SPLUMA by-law of Emalahleni, Mpumalanga however does contain such a section. In Emalahleni, Mpumalanga such a certificate is therefore required before a property can be transferred. This is apparently the practice in the Mpumalanga Deeds Office.
Given the fact that the by-law in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga so closely resembles the “main” SPLUMA by name, we think that this is where the confusion has arisen, and some commentators have interpreted the local by-law to apply to the whole of the country. We must however point out that the wording of the Emalahleni Municipal By-law is also repeated in the Polokwane by-law, so this might be a trend in the northern part of the country too.
The Western Cape Land Use Planning Act (the provincial legislation that governs how we do things in the Western Cape), and the City of Cape Town Municipal Planning By-Law (which tells us how we do things in the City of Cape Town) – both of which were passed specifically in order to comply with SPLUMA – however do not require such a certificate before transfer.
It thus appears that those of us lucky enough to be in the Western Cape can all calm down to a mild panic!
We will however continue to monitor the situation and if any further information comes to light, we will let you know.
Robert Krautkramer and Deon Welz
Miltons Matsemela Inc