About Me

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I am a qualified Attorney. I specialise in Property Law, Commercial Law, Corporate Law and Trusts.
 
Please visit our website at www.prop-law.co.za for more details.
 
I am an elected Committee Member of the Property Committee of the Association of Pretoria Attorneys and through my involvement, I like to ensure that I am constantly at the "sharp-end" of Conveyancing Practice.

I am the elected Chairman on the Gauteng Council of SAPOA. The South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) is the biggest and most influential institution in the property industry. SAPOA members control about 90% of commercial property in SA, with a combined portfolio in excess of R150 Billion (about $22 Billion). I am also on the National Council and the National Legal Committee of SAPOA.
 
Member of the Institute of Directors South Africa.

25 July 2014

What is a billion rand between councillors?

Questions arise about the real cost of Tshwane’s new headquarters.

An Artist's impression of the future Tshwane House.

At a special council meeting on Wednesday, the City of Tshwane’s council approved the fast-tracking of the public private partnership (PPP) for the building of a new headquarter complex. But what this will cost ratepayers over the 25-year duration of the contract, is not at all clear.
Little clarity was given during the council meeting and there was also very little discussion, apart from an exchange of insults and bartering between the ruling ANC and opposition DA.
Deputy city manager Lindiwe Kwele could not on Thursday clarify the discrepancy between the mayor’s statement earlier this year putting the cost at R2 billion, the city website that put it at R3 billion and an independent expert who put it at R4.3 billion. She said the city will submit a report to National Treasury where an assessment will be done.
A report from Treasury will come back to council “and then we can have this discussion,” she said.
The PPP was approved in 2006 and the Tsela Tshweu consortium led by Group Five was appointed in April 2011. Financial close has however not been reached. According to the new fast-tracked timeline, the council aims to reach financial close by the end of next month.
The project entails the building of a 35 000m2 new headquarter complex on the same site where its predecessor Munitoria was demolished last year, as well as a 25-year operational phase. During that period the consortium will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the complex. At the end of the period the building is handed to Tshwane at no cost.

Demolition of the Old Munitoria.

Porsche buys Kyalami Race Track for record auction price

Porsche buys Kyalami Race Track for record auction price


Motorsport fans can breathe easy knowing that one of the most valuable pieces of land in Gauteng will carry on as a racing facility.

24 July 2014

Joburg architects, estate agents meet over planning delays

Joburg architects, estate agents meet over planning delays



Joburg's economic development and growth is being stunted by its own development planning department which is 'imploding'. This is what architects, estate agents and agents or runners who assist by going in to submit plans, claim.

They are so desperate and frustrated that they called an urgent meeting last week to discuss the way forward to get the city to speed up the approval of plans, site development plans and rezonings.

About 32 people attended, representing people who had daily dealings with the planning department.

Judge slates 'arrogant' municipality over property transfer ineptitude

... 'despite the ringing phrases of the constitution and the Constitutional Court, Canton Trading's requests were met with the inscrutable face of the bureaucratic sphinx'.

I like it!

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney















Judge slates 'arrogant' municipality over property transfer ineptitude

If your municipality is messing you around, you might enjoy the comments made by a court this week when faced with evidence of outrageous bureaucratic inefficiency and arrogance.

It's a case that should lead to the sacking for uselessness of certain Buffalo City officials - though you would be a fool to put money on this happening.

Landmark office building underway in Sandton

If the City of Joburg is willing to continue to approve such projects, may I make one small request ... PLEASE update the infrastructure to accommodate the development.  In particular, please indulge me for a moment while I indulge in some venting about my pet-hate ... the M1 - GRAYSTON OFFRAMP.

There are awesome examples (just up the road) of how a little bit of planning (and a lot of expense) can greatly improve traffic flow.  Eliminating traffic flows in different directions having to criss-cross will alleviate a significant amount of suggestion.  The Allandale, Atterbury and Lynnwood offramps on the N1 are great examples.

Does anyone know of any plans for Grayston?

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney














Landmark office building underway in Sandton

The new 86 993 sqm corporate headquarters being built for Discovery in Sandton at a cost of more than R2.5 billion is believed to be the largest single commercial office building in Africa.

The eight-storey building will have two wings plus a ground floor with nine basement levels providing 5 100 parking bays. It will serve as Discovery's hub for its growing international business that now has operations in South Africa, the US, the UK, Australia and Asia-Pacific.



It will also bring all of Discovery's more than 5 000 employees in four buildings in Sandton under one roof.

It is being developed on a site at the corner of Catherine Drive and Rivonia Road by a joint venture between listed Growthpoint Properties and Zenprop.

Earthworks on the site commenced in March and the construction of the basement levels is scheduled to start in October and the office levels in January 2016. Discovery is scheduled to take occupation of the building in January 2018. Its initial lease period is for 15 years with the option to renew.

James Tanneberger, the chief executive of Zenprop Property Holdings, said this week that this iconic building would be the largest single office development to take place in Africa.


22 July 2014

Joburg billing crisis deepens

Joburg billing crisis deepens

The billing crisis, which the City of Joburg has been claiming is largely over, is about to take a turn for the worse.

In a shock announcement his weekend, we learnt that city officials have been tampering with residents' meters to inflate bills, they have been deliberately overbilling and unilaterally, with no consent, rezoning properties for additional rates.

Minister mulls end to free housing

Fair comment by the Minister BUT once you have created an expectation (by campaign promises, etc.) it is somewhat disingenuous to then criticise people's "sense of entitlement".  Is it not?

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney













Minister mulls end to free housing

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is determined to eradicate the 2.3 million housing backlog before thoughts may turn to long-term considerations of a possible end to free government housing - although not state-subsidised housing.

Key to getting to grips with South Africa's housing logjam is a database to get a full picture of who still required free housing 20 years into democracy and to eliminate fraud, corruption and housing waiting-list queue jumping.

'It never was the intention of this government to give free homes ad infinitum,' Sisulu told The Star yesterday.

'What makes an 18-year-old think the state owes them a house? It's a culture of entitlement... we can't continue with a dependency culture.'

When the government put in place the provision of free housing, it was to correct the wrongs of the past.

But beyond a certain point, questions needed to be asked.

'Somebody has to have the courage to say this is not what we intended,' she said. Free housing is not in the Freedom Charter nor in the constitution.

It is a potentially controversial stance. But the minister, who returned to the human settlements portfolio after the May 7 elections following an absence of several years, maintained there were many options to ensure that no vulnerable, poor South African was left without access to adequate shelter.

This included providing state housing subsidies through the social grant system and providing affordable rentals.

Beneficiaries of free government housing are anyone earning less than R3 500 a month.

The Star

'Great difficulty' in obtaining home-loans for affordable properties

With our client about to launch a new affordable housing development in the Mamelodi area, I am about to test the accuracy of the comments below ... FIRST HAND ... as we have been appointed to assist with bond origination.

Further reports to follow!

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney














'Great difficulty' in obtaining home-loans for affordable properties

There is a huge demand for affordable housing, but great difficulty in obtaining home-loans, says Shiraaz Hassan, commercial director for Asrin Property Developers.

'One out of the four major banks are active participants at present, but the others seem reluctant and their credit vetting processes are far too stringent, which effectively means we are selling one unit four times before a buyer receives a bond to buy and the deal is successful,' said Hassan.

Tshwane council official held over building plan bribe

I applaud the efforts of the city in curbing corruption.  It is unfortunately a scourge on our society and must be stamped out at all costs if our nation is to truly prosper.

You will never totally eradicate corruption but the best way to do so is to ensure that the normal process is so efficient that there is no need to look for a "shortcut".  By eliminating the demand, you destroy the market.

There must therefore be a two-pronged approach to fighting corruption:

1. Zero-Tolerance to offenders who must be energetically prosecuted and harshly sentenced; and

2. Eliminate demand by making services so efficient that there is seldom (if ever) a need for a shortcut.

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney














Tshwane council official held over building plan bribe

Some of the building plans that catapulted the Tshwane metro to the status of South Africa's building capital standings may have been approved fraudulently.

This is the implication of yesterday's arrest of a City of Tshwane building inspector suspected of accepting bribes from developers to approve plans for their developments.

Tshwane losing R150m a year to electricity theft

The article below from the Pretoria News was actually published about 2 weeks ago, so it's not exactly "breaking news" but I picked up on it again when the news relating to electricity theft in Joburg broke over the weekend.  According to reports, it is alleged that it is not only your typical "squatter camp type" illegal connection but apparently extends to large shopping centres, prominent hotels and the like.

The names of the shopping centres, hotels, etc. were not revealed but it will certainly be extremely interesting and a enormous disappointment to those of us involved in the commercial property sector.

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney













Tshwane losing R150m a year to electricity theft

The City of Tshwane loses electricity worth about R150 million annually through illegal connections and meter tampering.

According to City of Tshwane spokeswoman Lebogang Matji, while illegal connections are most prevalent in informal settlements, they are not confined to these areas.

04 July 2014

South African city sprawl continues unabated

It makes absolutely NO SENSE to continue to build outward instead of upward.

By any logical stretch of the imagination, can anyone justify moving further and further away from resources, jobs, infrastructure, transport, etc., etc.?

Regular readers of the Blog will by now realise that this is my personal crusade, namely to highlight that absolute waste that is created by urban sprawl.



This was made even clearer to me on a trip to China a couple of years ago.  The insanely rapid expansion of Shanghai is particularly noteworthy as it serves to highlight that where there is a will there is a way.


The expansion in high rise housing is astonishing.  We drove for kilometre after kilometre in a never-ending see of high rise accommodation.  Just consider the number of housing units required to accommodate the expanding population.


In SA, particularly Gauteng, I sometimes hear that no matter how many houses/schools/hospitals are built, it can't cater for the rapid urbanisation of the SA population.  However, I am pretty certain that no SA Metro has experienced an increase of 10 million people in 10 years.  As I said, where there's a will there's a way.

More of my comments on this Blog on the inefficiency of urban sprawl can be seen here:

http://garethsfirstlaw.blogspot.com/2014/05/high-rises-to-replace-houses-says-absa.html

http://garethsfirstlaw.blogspot.com/2014/04/ambitious-property-developments-in.html

http://garethsfirstlaw.blogspot.com/2014/03/pretoria-landmark-apartments-demolition.html

http://garethsfirstlaw.blogspot.com/2014/02/inner-city-property-deal-to-regenerate.html

http://garethsfirstlaw.blogspot.com/2013/12/historic-inner-joburg-suburbs-set-for.html

http://garethsfirstlaw.blogspot.com/2012/05/schubart-park-hopes-for-lifeline.html

Anyway, what started me off on this tangent (again) is the following Article from the Cape Argus

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney














South African city sprawl continues unabated

The latest construction statistics show a mismatch between public policy to densify residential areas and private building trends.

South African informal settlements show tremendous growth

South African informal settlements show tremendous growth

The 'formalisation' of property marketing in South Africa's major informal settlements is an on-going process, the impact of which is now being felt across the country.

The good news, says Tony Clarke of the Rawson Property Group, is that this is now also raising prices in these areas at an unprecedented rate and fostering a desire for home ownership among younger people.

In the major Cape Town suburbs of Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, average home prices, says Clarke, have risen very significantly in the last few years.