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 and Member of the Sirdar Governance Panel.

30 July 2013

Property subsidy scheme for first-time buyers shows little promise

Property subsidy scheme for first-time buyers shows little promise


When President Jacob Zuma announced that the Department of Human Settlement would be instituting a finance-linked individual subsidy programme for first time home buyers, there was a sudden influx of hopeful potential home buyers keen to make use of this programme.

This was said recently by Daphney Klopper, the Rawson Property Group's franchisee for Table View and a co-franchisee for Parklands.

"The Finance-Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) scheme," said Klopper, "looked exceptionally promising when it was announced because it offers subsidies up to R87,000 towards the purchase of a home by a first time buyer. However, clients who approached us and their banks or bond originators for a mortgage loan making use of this scheme have not as yet seen any concrete response to their applications."

The banks, said Klopper, appeared to be equally keen to implement the scheme but when approached were almost always told that the Department of Housing was still establishing the procedures which had to be adhered to and was not yet in a position to make these subsidies.

This was confirmed by the Western Cape Minister of Housing, Bonginkosi Madikizela, in an interview on Radio 567 Cape Talk. But, said Klopper, he apparently later told Mike van Alphen, the National Manager of Rawson Finance, that the department thought it essential to "educate" first time buyers before embarking on the FLISP scheme.

More recently, said Klopper, it was suddenly learned via the government's website information service that the full sum set aside for these subsidies had been entirely allocated as part of the state's R17,9 billion poverty relief subsidies. Exactly to whom the grants had been made was not spelt out, but the net result, she said, was that her franchise's potential home buyers had clearly been left out in the cold.

It is believed, she added, that a large portion of this very welcome subsidy fund has been given to tender developments handling the Department of Human Settlements' projects or possibly directly to banks prepared to deal with first time home buyers, however, none of which have benefitted directly from the subsidy so far. These subsidies would be a great help in developing areas such as Parklands, where many first time home buyers need assistance.

"Recently," said Klopper, "Absa officially launched their first FLISP-linked mortgages. Now the real estate industry would like to know how much of the original fund has been allocated and how much is still available."

Rawson Property Group Press Release

29 July 2013

Big gap in housing market needs to be addressed

Big gap in housing market needs to be addressed


The department of Human Settlements will keep on 'dousing fires' unless it addresses the housing market gap of people who earn too much to deserve Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses, but too little to qualify for mortgages.

This gap refers to public servants who earn between R3 500 and R15 000 a month, including entry-level police officers, nurses and teachers.

According to members of Parliament's human settlements portfolio committee, the building of houses on illegally sold state land in Lenasia pointed to a bigger problem that needed to be nipped in the bud.

The department's top officials heard this yesterday when they appeared before the committee to brief MPs on progress made in Lenasia.

However, officials said the department's efforts were being hampered by some Lenasia residents who continued to illegally build houses at night.

They said they feared this land invasion could spread to other parts of the country. Last year, former human settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale promised to get to the bottom of the illegal sale of Lenasia stateowned land by criminals. This was after illegally built houses were demolished, sparking a public outcry. Several people were later arrested or charged.

Committee chairwoman Nomhle Dambuza said the Lenasia saga was a symptom of the department's failure to address a policy gap: how to accommodate the housing needs of junior civil servants. 'What is your programme doing about making sure that we don't get to this scenario again? What happened in Joburg (referring to Lenasia) is going to happen in East London,' she predicted.

Dambuza said it was unacceptable that the courts had to force the state to provide services, as was the case in Lenasia.

Khwezi Ngwenya, Sexwale's former legal adviser, said the axed minister had established a special task team to find a 'legal and amicable solution'.

Mona Molepo, of the National Home Builders Registration Council, said many of the illegally built Lenasia houses were below standard.

The department said seven people had been arrested, and the Hawks were expected to make further arrests.

The Star

24 July 2013

Bid to thwart Menlyn casino plan

Bid to thwart Menlyn casino plan

A group of 22 residents' associations and interest groups who lodged a complaint with the Public Protector about the City of Tshwane's disregard for their concerns over increased development in the Menlyn area, are looking to launch an objection with the Gauteng Gambling Board on the development of a multibillion-rand casino complex in the area.

The Joint Action Group (JAG), laid a complaint in August with the Public Protector over the city's approval of the Menlyn Node Spatial Development Framework of 2012 which aims to densify and develop certain areas.

The group claimed the city ignored a negative traffic impact analysis and forged ahead with approving the framework and even added more areas.

The group's main concern is the strain the increased development will put on existing services, traffic and the public transport system.

Other concerns include the inadequate provision of community facilities such as taxi ranks, schools, police stations, fire stations and open spaces.

Kgalalelo Masibi, spokeswoman for the Public Protector, said the investigation is at an advanced stage and the city has been co-operating with the needs of the investigator.

Now, on top of their dissatisfaction with the Menlyn Node, residents recently found out they might also have a casino - Time Square at Menlyn Maine - on their doorstep.

Sun International wants to have its casino licence transferred from the Morula casino north of the city to Menlyn Maine in a R3 billion entertainment complex development. The casino will have 3 000 slot machines and 100 gaming tables - making it bigger than the casinos at Montecasino and Emperor's Palace.

If the licence is granted, the development could be completed within three years.

Residents claimed they were not informed of the possibility of a casino development in the area.

'We are unhappy about the underhanded way in which this matter was dealt with,' said Erik Buiten, co-convener of JAG.

Buiten said the residents' main concern was traffic congestion and they would be taking this up with the council.

'The general feeling seems to be one of surprise, suspicion and concern - people want to be informed of what is happening and what it will mean for them. Information has been less than forthcoming,' he said.

City of Tshwane spokesman Blessing Manale said the city was aware of the investigation but would only comment once the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had made her recommendation.

'To the best of our knowledge no feedback has been received from the Public Protector regarding the matter,' Manale said.

The aim of the Menlyn Node Spatial Development Framework of 2012 was to 'densify and intensify' the area around Menlyn, he added.

Other areas that will undergo the same development are the city centre, Hatfield, Mamelodi and Centurion.

'The complainants seem to want to retain the status quo of low density, low intensity, and private carorientated spatial environment. This is not seen as sustainable in the future and will not be supported by the City of Tshwane,' Manale said.

JAG said it was not opposed to develop me
nt and change as long as 'proper public consultation processess' were followed and the developments were based on 'sound planning principles'.

In 2010, before the Spatial Development Framework was finalised, the city and residents agreed that a traffic study would be undertaken.

Residents say the study found the existing road system was already under stress and even with road improvements and the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, it would not be able to accommodate the developments in the area.

Surrounding areas such as Menlo Park, Brooklyn, Faerie Glen, Waterkloof, Lynnwood and Garsfontein were added to the Spatial Development Framework retrospectively, allegedly without any public consultation.

Regarding the casino, Manale said the city approved land use rights for 'a place of amusement'.

According to the city, a 'place of amusement' encompasses the possibility of a casino development.

Manale said the casino developers had to obtain a licence from the Gauteng Gambling Board.

Southern Sun has advertised that they have applied for their licence to be transferred and increased.

JAG said it was 'seriously considering' lodging a complaint with the board.

While some residents are opposed to the casino development, others have welcomed the idea.

Piet du Toit, chief executive of the Tshwane Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the development would be good for business in the area.

When they announced their plans Sun International said the development would create thousands of jobs during construction and after opening.

Pretoria News

Great demand for 100% home loans, but banks resist

Great demand for 100% home loans, but banks resist

Roughly 20% of all bond applicants in South Africa require 100% bonds today - but the rejection rate on this type of application is always a great deal higher than the average.

Some 85% of those applying for 100% bonds tend to buy in the R500,000 to R750,000 price bracket, says Mike van Alphen, National Manager of the Rawson Property Group's bond origination division, Rawson Finance. Those hoping to buy above R750,000 are often upgrading and can put down 10 or 15% deposits as a result of the sale of their current home.

'The banks are sometimes accused of being too harsh in their assessments of 100% bond applicants. However, in my experience this is not so - they are committed to helping in this sector but they have to work to the rules and standards set by the National Credit Act and there is no getting away from this.'

Despite on-going publicity in the media on this subject, says van Alphen, the vast majority of bond applicants do not check their credit records before applying for a bond, nor do they make any attempt to save for a deposit.

'In these circumstances a good originator can help: one free credit check is allowed for every South African resident per annum and if further checks are needed the originator can arrange these. Furthermore, an experienced originator can advise the applicant on how to manage his or her expenses so as to build up a nest egg for a deposit. This may be a long term process and saving may take a year or two, but many good bond originators have set applicants on the right path in this respect.'

Another common mistake, says van Alphen, is for applicants to apply for a bond that their incomes do not justify. Here, too, he says, a bond originator can often help the applicant adjust his sights in the way prescribed by the banks.

Regular calls from the public for 'safety net guarantees' to the banks to increase bond application 'hit rates', says van Alphen, are misguided. It is, he believes, the public themselves who must learn to be more responsible.

'We all recognize that an increase in 100% bond approvals is exactly what is needed to stimulate the housing sector and allay social discontent. However, this must not be done by ignoring the provisions of the National Credit Act, which, applied at exactly the right time, has succeeded in limiting reckless spending and has, to a large extent, protected potential home buyers from accumulating a large monthly debt commitment that they simply cannot afford,' says van Alphen.

Rawson Finance Press Release

19 July 2013

Pensioner commits suicide outside Sharemax offices

In my Blog I have posted so many Blog Posts on both Sharemax and Picvest.

I have always looked at it from the point of view of an interested observer with a keen interest in the Property Industry.  I was always interested in the legal ramifications of the coniving that has gone on with these two investment schemes.

When taking an analytical view of these type of activities, it is easy to forget that there is a real impact on people's lives.

I was therefore stunned to see the latest news on Moneyweb about Sharemax.  One of the investors in The Villa committed suicide right in front of the Sharemax Offices, which also happens to be very close to my house.

The fact that Nova Property Group is now simply trading as Sharemax with another name (and the same directors) while investors (many of whom can't afford it) is in my opinion an absolute travesty of justice.

Gareth Shepperson

Investor wanted directors to know the devastation they had caused.

Sharemax investor Bohuslav Kautsky, aged 67, committed suicide outside the syndication company’s offices in Waterkloof Heights, Pretoria, on Monday July 15.

Kautsky had invested R770 000 in The Villa, Sharemax’s largest syndication and one of the most toxic in the portfolio.

Kautsky’s daughter, Iva Kautsky, says her father had “no way of surviving because of the financial losses suffered by him due to the Sharemax Ponzi scheme.”

Says Kautsky’s daughter: “He was a very proud man and would not accept any help from me and was not well enough to work so he had no way of earning an income to be able to pay for his basic needs.”
Kautsky shot himself in the heart in his car outside the Sharemax offices, at 105 Club Avenue, Waterkloof Heights, Pretoria. His daughter says he chose this location so that Sharemax’s “directors would know the devastation they had caused”.

The above address is also where Nova Property Group conducts its business. Nova Property Group is a public company that owns all the properties that used to form part of the Sharemax portfolio.

“My father has read many of your articles regarding the Sharemax matter and appreciated the awareness that you have created,” says Iva Kautsky.

“He had told me many times that he did not want to live under his current circumstances anymore and how he wanted to 'make a statement' to those people he believed to be responsible for his situation.”
At the time of writing Nova managing director and former Sharemax financial director Dominique Haese had not responded to a request for comment.

Kautsky was advised to invest in The Villa by Deeb Risk of D Risk Insurance Consultants CC.
Risk was a prominent Sharemax broker who has been ordered by Fais Ombud Noluntu Bam to repay several pensioners who he advised to invest with Sharemax. Risk made news last year for his unsuccessful legal attempt – funded by a Santam subsidiary – to challenge the Ombud’s jurisdiction.

Despite several determinations made by Bam against Risk, his close corporation is currently an authorised financial services provider and continues to conduct business from its office in Van Riebeeck Avenue, Edenvale. Furthermore, Risk is still a key individual and representative of D Risk Insurance Consultants, according to the Financial Services Board’s website.

Risk’s office informs Moneyweb that he is currently travelling overseas and is not available for comment.

MONEYWEB

18 July 2013

Pretoria landmark gets new lease of life

Pretoria landmark gets new lease of life

The Sterland cinema and shopping mall complex in Arcadia is being redeveloped and expanded at a cost of R80 million by co-owners Atterbury Property Holdings and Genesis.

The Sterland complex in Arcadia.

The Sterland shopping mall and cinema complex in Arcadia is undergoing changes that will include a Planet Fitness gym and supermarket.

The upgrade will result in SterKinekor and Red Eagle Spur being joined by a new Planet Fitness gym, which is scheduled to open in September. The centre will also feature a new Pick n Pay, Top CD and a range of restaurants and fast food outlets, including Steers, Fishaways and Chicken Licken.

However, Atterbury Property Holdings's vision for Sterland extends beyond the mall itself, and it hopes to open a hotel and restaurants in the adjacent building, Primedia's former head office.

Gerhard van der Westhuizen, the project manager at Atterbury Property Development, said despite Sterland being one of South Africa's older malls, having been built in 1963, it remained one of the most popular destinations for moviegoers, with Ster-Kinekor achieving its second highest ticket sales in the country.

Ster-Kinekor occupies more than half the mall, offering movie-goers 11 cinemas with 2 400 seats and 3D movies.

But Van der Westhuizen said Sterland was not keeping pace with the market.

'We felt it was time to give the mall a full refurbishment to create a new wide-ranging lifestyle and entertainment offering ideally matched to its market,' he said.

Besides the investment by Atterbury and Genesis in Sterland's upgrade, Ster-Kinekor has invested R10m to revamp its cinemas - which it reopened last November - to create a state-of-the-art viewing experience.

'Sterland is popular with a young, up-and-coming, middle-class market,' said Van der Westhuizen.

'There are many students in the area. The Sterland refurbishment will position it perfectly for the vibrant social life in the node and increase its appeal to the many funloving people who live nearby.

'This all has a positive impact on the entire surrounding area and we foresee this project being a catalyst for even more improvement and new investment in central Pretoria.'
Van der Westhuizen added that a big part of the upgrade was embracing a more modern design that made Sterland brighter and offered a fresh, open-air environment.

He said Sterland was originally developed as an open shopping centre, but after handful of revamps it had become enclosed with a circustype tent roof.

Atterbury would be removing the roof so the centre could once again celebrate the brilliant South African climate, he said.

Pretoria News

Small property price increases outstrip other categories

Small property price increases outstrip other categories

The latest records from ABSA show that in the first six months of this year small home sales prices saw an 11,3% growth, giving an average sale price of R730,000.

By way of contrast, medium house prices grew at only 8.6% to an average price of R1,077,100, and large homes grew by 9,7%, to give an average price of R1,679,100.

"This," said Mike van Alphen, National Manager of Rawson Finance, "shows that in real terms only small homes kept well ahead of the inflation rate. Even more significant, however, is the fact that year-on-year growth, it is now predicted by almost all analysts, will stay in the single digit bracket for the remainder of this year, if not longer."

The rental patterns on South African homes, added van Alphen, show a similar trend, demand for low value homes being far higher than for those of more expensive properties.

In both rentals and sales, said van Alphen, the Rawson Property Group's figures appear to bear out those quoted.

"Franchises with a strong presence in the lower and lower middle brackets," said van Alphen, "are proving to be the fastest growers. However, as many investors have discovered, there is a surprising number of high demand 'pockets' throughout the country where buyer interest remains extremely strong and buyers are having to outbid each other to get properties. These 'pockets' can have homes valued as high as R3 million to R5 million."

Rawson Finance Press Release

Property owner's rights 'are absolute'

Property owner's rights 'are absolute'

The owner's right to a property is a real right that can be enforced against the 'whole world'. It is, in a sense, an absolute right.

A tenant decides to rent out the outbuilding and the garage since the lease does not stipulate that she cannot sub-let.

Can the landlord, who is the owner, demand a share of the tenant's rental income?
Let us take another example where the landlord/owner discovers that his tenant sells lemonade and orange juice made from the fruits taken from the trees planted by him on the property leased to the tenant.

Does the landlord have a claim to the tenant's income or can he prevent the tenant from accessing the fruits?
Can the owner not enforce his rights, since he has an absolute right?
The owner's right also includes what is legally referred to as jus abutendi, that is, he is entitled to alter and destroy the property, which a tenant cannot do.

The tenant (lessee) has undisturbed use and enjoyment that encompasses the right of using the property ( jus utendi); and the right to gather and enjoy the civil and natural fruits of the property ( jus fruendi).

A lease contract of an immovable property is like an expandable or flexible power, which is compressed or restricted by the rights given to the tenant, and later returned to its original form and power at the expiry of the lease.

The landlord is entitled to rentals, which is the main income.

Does the landlord have rights to the income of the subtenant, or from the fruits?

The tenant's limited real right allows the tenant to derive rental income and income from the fruits on the property, and to use and distribute or dispose of the fruits. This right can be limited in the lease, whereby the landlord could state that he is entitled to all the fruits, or share the profits, in the event the tenant sells the fruits.

Substitute fruits with, for example, an outbuilding or a garage on the property - unless there is a specific clause in the lease that prohibits the tenant from sub-letting, the tenant can sub-let and enjoy the civil fruits.

In Neebe v Registrar of Mining Right 1902 TS 65, regarding a tenant, chief justice Innes at page 81 said: 'He had no right to destroy and appropriate the substance of the thing hired, but only to enjoy the benefit of its use and take the fruits.

'The claimholder, on the other hand, only enjoys the use of the surface of his ground for purposes subsidiary to the one main object of his tenure, and that is the extraction of minerals.

'The essence of his position is the right to take out portion of the soil of the claim and win the minerals from it; this was the very thing that the lessee could not do.'
Judge Wessels, at page 86 in the same case, said the following about the claimholder: 'It gives him the right, too, of destroying the whole nature of the ground he occupies, and of taking away all the precious minerals under the surface.

'In legal, technical language the lessee has the jus utendi and the jus fruendi, i.e. the right to use the thing let, and the right to gather such fruits as grow and ripen on the land. There the rights stop. The jus abutendi forms no part of the lessee's right.

'Now the claimholder has the jus utendi to enable him to take out the precious minerals, and the jus abutendi or right of taking the precious minerals away.'
An owner's absolute right is restricted by the terms of a lease, which allows a tenant limited real rights.

Tenant Issues
Daily News
Dr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed
Chairman, Organisation of Civic Rights

Neighbours 'should be cautious in agreeing to building plan departures'

Neighbours 'should be cautious in agreeing to building plan departures'

I had an interesting call from Brian (name has been changed) in Pinelands, Cape Town. Brian's neighbours want to put a second story on their existing thatched roof house, which like many older Cape Town properties has been built over the building line. This house is only 2 meters from the boundary.

Because the extension was a departure from the current municipal by-laws, the municipal planning had told the applicant to get the neighbours to give their written agreement to this departure.

Now Brian has no wish to be anything but neighbourly and would normally be more than happy for his neighbour to extend his house. However, Brian called me to ask: What if there is a fire in the thatch and because the thatch roof structure is so close to the boundary this fire spreads to Brian's house also. If this happened would his insurance company pay, asked Brian?

Good point. The National Building Regulations state that thatched roof structures in excess of 20 square meters should not be erected closer than 4.5 meters from any boundary. This distance has been determined taking into account the likely intensity of heat emanating from a burning thatched roof and its ability to ignite neighbouring structures.

Many older thatched structures are built much closer together, but the NBR governs new building. I am a little surprised that the municipality would even countenance this departure.

I suggested that Brian contact his insurers and ask them to state in writing that they are in agreement with the proposed departure and would honour their insurance cover over his house in the event of a fire spreading from the neighbour. I doubt, somehow that the insurers will agree to this.

In my opinion home owners should look very closely at the impact of any proposed departure from local and national building regulations and local by-laws and consider issues such as safety, privacy and future resale value before agreeing to a neighbour's request for a departure.

There is a time to be neighbourly, but being sensible should override this.

John Graham
CEO HouseCheck

15 July 2013

Lower end of market booms but few buyers qualify for bonds

Lower end of market booms but few buyers qualify for bonds

Figures from the Deed Offices show increased sales in the lower section of the residential property market.

Rawson's managing direction Tony Clarke says that about 40 percent of all property sales in South Africa were for properties valued below R400 000 and 80 percent of buyers were looking for homes priced below R600 000.

'This would appear to indicate that a significant number of lower income earners are now at last realising their dreams of becoming homeowners. The reality, however, is that far more are still unable to afford homes,' said Clarke.

'The problem is that the high percentage of buyers at the lower income levels don't qualify for bonds and most developers are just not capable of bringing new homes to the market at prices below R700 000.

'In the R700 000 to R1.2 million bracket there is now a flourishing development market, but, as indicated, such homes are too expensive for nearly 80 percent of South Africa's potential buyers.

'This is not a healthy situation. Many of us working in the property sector believe that a government truly committed to home ownership should be assisting by implementing such measures as:


Offering the banks guarantees on low value bonds - provided the applications have been assessed with the usual care and thoroughness.


Donating some of the many thousands of hectares of land that the government owns to development.


Expropriating suitable sites at market-related prices and making them available to developers, possibly on a paylater basis when their projects are sold out.'
He said home ownership fosters stability and provides homeowners with places from which they can run businesses, which can greatly encourage entrepreneurship.

'Also, once home ownership becomes a trend in any community it has a marked 'push-up' effect on the market as a whole, for the simple reason that people will always aspire to better lifestyles, will upgrade their homes and will move up to more expensive units.

'New development also creates opportunities for estate agents to operate in areas where they have never been before, and it is always heartening to see jobs created in this way. However, without this sort of state assistance, the low cost market will never come anywhere near being able to satisfy the pent- up demand for homes,' Clarke said.

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Lower end of market booms but few buyers qualify for bonds

Lower end of market booms but few buyers qualify for bonds

Figures from the Deed Offices show increased sales in the lower section of the residential property market.

Rawson's managing direction Tony Clarke says that about 40 percent of all property sales in South Africa were for properties valued below R400 000 and 80 percent of buyers were looking for homes priced below R600 000.

'This would appear to indicate that a significant number of lower income earners are now at last realising their dreams of becoming homeowners. The reality, however, is that far more are still unable to afford homes,' said Clarke.

'The problem is that the high percentage of buyers at the lower income levels don't qualify for bonds and most developers are just not capable of bringing new homes to the market at prices below R700 000.

'In the R700 000 to R1.2 million bracket there is now a flourishing development market, but, as indicated, such homes are too expensive for nearly 80 percent of South Africa's potential buyers.

'This is not a healthy situation. Many of us working in the property sector believe that a government truly committed to home ownership should be assisting by implementing such measures as:


Offering the banks guarantees on low value bonds - provided the applications have been assessed with the usual care and thoroughness.


Donating some of the many thousands of hectares of land that the government owns to development.


Expropriating suitable sites at market-related prices and making them available to developers, possibly on a paylater basis when their projects are sold out.'
He said home ownership fosters stability and provides homeowners with places from which they can run businesses, which can greatly encourage entrepreneurship.

'Also, once home ownership becomes a trend in any community it has a marked 'push-up' effect on the market as a whole, for the simple reason that people will always aspire to better lifestyles, will upgrade their homes and will move up to more expensive units.

'New development also creates opportunities for estate agents to operate in areas where they have never been before, and it is always heartening to see jobs created in this way. However, without this sort of state assistance, the low cost market will never come anywhere near being able to satisfy the pent- up demand for homes,' Clarke said.

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

12 July 2013

Disquiet over R3bn Menlyn casino plan

In a follow up to yesterday's post.

Disquiet over R3bn Menlyn casino plan

There is no official approval for a casino at Menlyn - at least not yet. Although Sun International has announced in newspaper adverts detailed plans for a R3 billion entertainment complex called Time Square at Menlyn Maine - including a casino bigger than the gaming area at Montecasino - a full council meeting still has to debate it.

Residents of the surrounding suburbs yesterday expressed disquiet at the idea of a casino in their midst, especially because of its proximity to schools, retirement centres and places of worship.

However, the biggest concern seems to be an increase in traffic such a complex would mean to the Waterkloof Glen, Constantia Park, Garsfontein and Faerie Glen areas, and the fact that residents have not been consulted.

The site is at the intersection of Corobay and Aramist streets, behind the Glen High School and opposite the CTI Pretoria campus and Menlyn Corporate Park. It is part of the mixed-use Menlyn Maine development.

The Tshwane Metro Council agreed to remove certain restrictions in terms of which the site, which was initially zoned for residential development, could be used for business, in particular a place of entertainment, according to city planning MMC Subesh Pillay.

The council is in recess, but DA councillor Professor Duncan Baker said he would raise the matter at the next council meeting later this month. While there is some concern, the development has been punted as being good for the local economy, providing jobs and promoting tourism.

Sun International wants to have its casino licence transferred from the Morula casino north of the city to Menlyn Maine in a R3bn entertainment complex development. The casino will have 3 000 slot machines and 100 gaming tables - making it bigger than the casino at Montecasino or Emperor's Palace. If the licence is granted, the development could be completed within three years.

Pillay said the Menlyn Maine development, which includes corporate offices, shops and restaurants, a residential component and a gym, had originally been approved in terms of the Menlyn Node Spatial Development Framework.

In February a subsequent application was received from the developers for removal of certain restrictive conditions. This was considered and the rezoning was granted to allow for a place of entertainment, including a hotel.

'It should, however, be noted that approval by the city does not mean approval of casino operations but merely enables the developer and casino operator to apply to the Gauteng Gambling Board for licensing of casino operations,' he said.

In this instance, that was the relocation of an existing licence from Morula Sun to the proposed new site.

Margot Chamberlain, a member of the Brooklyn Conservation Association, said the possibility of a casino had not been mentioned until now, and she said it was not suitable for a residential area. 'It is already heavily congested in the area. The infrastructure cannot support such a development,' she said.

However, Piet du Toit, chief executive of the Tshwane Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the development would be good for business in the area.

He said the target market of Morula come from Pretoria East, and the move to the business hub of the east would be a good one. 'Sun International must have done their research if they are confident to invest R3bn and the chamber supports the development,' he said.

There are at least five churches in the area, including the Hatfield Christian Church, The Glen Methodist Church and the Pretoria Wesleyan Church.

Rath Wilson, manager of the retirement centre of the Pretoria Wesleyan Church, said he was concerned for the safety of the elderly should a casino be built. 'My initial reaction would be that I prefer to not have a casino here,' he said. They would make a submission to oppose transferring of the casino licence.

Written submissions on the plan can be handed in at the offices of the Gauteng Gambling Board, 125 Corlett Drive, Waverley Office Park, Bramley, Joburg.

Pretoria News

11 July 2013

Pretoria to get massive casino

Pretoria to get massive casino

News that a casino complex - with a bigger gaming area than Montecasino - is planned at Menlyn Maine has been kept under wraps and has come as a big surprise to residents in the area.

An artist's impression of the proposed scheme.

Sun International announced yesterday by way of an advertisement that it was to close the Morula Sun and had applied to transfer the gaming licence to a new R3 billion entertainment complex being developed near the Menlyn shopping centre in Waterkloof Glen.

But the DA councillor for the area, Professor Duncan Baker, said while he had heard rumours of a casino, one had not been approved as part of the original Menlyn Maine development.

The proposed complex, which would be close to a nursery school and churches, would be called Time Square and would include a casino with 3 000 slot machines - 1 300 more than at Montecasino in Fourways - as well as gaming tables. This is if Sun International's application to transfer its casino licence from the Morula Casino in Mabopane to Menlyn Maine is successful.

Time Square would be situated at the junction of Corobay and Aramist streets, opposite the central square component of Menlyn Maine, work on which is to be started in September. It is adjacent to the Glen High School and close to a number of churches, a nursery school and retirement complexes, some of which are likely to raise objections.

Menlyn Maine is a R8 billion, 315 000m² precinct that includes corporate offices, a shopping mall with restaurants, luxury residential units and a gym.

Hotels and entertainment facilities were part of the original zoning application.

According to Baker, there was mention of a theatre, cinemas and a hotel, but no reference to a casino.

He said yesterday's newspaper notice was the first he had officially heard of the plan to build a casino in the heart of the Menlyn area.

Residents have until August 16 to lodge objections about the casino.

The plans were kept under wraps by all parties, including Menlyn Maine - which recently released impressions of the residential area and opened a site information centre - until yesterday's announcement by Sun International.

There was no official comment from the City of Tshwane at time of going to press. The member of the mayoral committee for city planning Subesh Pillay could not respond immediately to questions about how plans got so far advanced without the public being informed.

According to the notice, Morula casino had experienced a decline in business. If relocated to an area closer to its source market, it could provide a unique entertainment and conference destination.

It would become a 'must-see destination' and key attraction, not only to visitors living in the area, but also to those from surrounding areas. It would be a modern integrated development, offering a range of experiences and entertainment and special events.

It would make a significant economic contribution to the city.

Sun International's chief executive, Graeme Stephens, said their research had shown a clear demand for hotel and convention space in Tshwane, as well as the proposed entertainment arena.

'It is with great pride that Sun International would become part of Menlyn Maine, the largest green precinct in the country,' he said.

According to Stephens, zoning, environmental impact studies and traffic assessments have been completed and a land deal has been concluded with the developers of Menlyn Maine.

Detailed planning would begin as soon as the outstanding approvals had been granted, with construction to start after about six months and likely to be completed within no more than three years.

Stephens said Morula had been experiencing a decline in revenue in recent years, possibly due to its location. There was nothing more Sun International could do to save it.

According to Sun International, the development would provide approximately 10 000 jobs during construction. Employment after construction would see 2 200 jobs at full capacity, 1 228 direct jobs and 972 jobs through service provision, many more than is the case at Morula. Morula staff would have the option of keeping their jobs and relocating to the new complex.

Sun International is exploring the possibility of opening a hotel school on the premises of the Morula Sun hotel and casino, which is on Molefe Makinta (Lucas Mangope) Highway, Mabopane, on the banks of the Nooitgedacht Dam.

The public may inspect the application at the offices of the Gauteng Gambling Board at 125 Corlett Drive, Waverley Office Park, Bramley, Joburg from next Tuesday. Written representations may be submitted one month from this date.

Pretoria News

10 July 2013

What happens if there's an interdict on a property for sale?

What happens if there's an interdict on a property for sale?

The Institute of Estate Agents, Western Cape, is often called in to assist when buyers, sellers and estate agents experience problems and they, in turn, says Annette Evans, regional manager of the Institute, will enlist the help of specialists in that particular field to answer any questions or deal with queries.

One query in particular that has come up recently, said Evans, is whether an estate agent is responsible for checking whether the seller's property has any interdicts over it.

With the crash of the property market very recently the above question has become more and more relevant, says Storme Heath, a director at C & A Friedlander Attorneys who often sponsor training sessions and events held by the Institute.

'All around us we see boards affixed to the gates of properties, alerting us to an upcoming auction to be held on these properties. It seems that properties in a broad spectrum, from Salt River to upper end Constantia homes, have been affected by the fall in the economy,' she said.

For a property to be put on auction, it is necessary for the judgement creditor (i.e. the bond holder/bank) to obtain a court order authorising the auction. When the court order is granted, the Registrar of Deeds is notified and places an interdict, in the form of an attachment, over the property records at the Deeds Office and if the seller wants to sell the property the bank would have to consent to the sale and have the attachment uplifted.

When the estate agent takes a mandate from a seller it would be a good time to ask whether there are any restrictions against transfer of the property, says Heath. The seller will be aware of any attachment order so should be able to tell the estate agent. If the property has been attached, the agent should then contact the bank to find out the outstanding debt figure - which will give an idea what offers the bank will consent to.

Once an offer is made on the property it will be necessary to uplift the attachment in order to get it transferred to the buyer. Once the transferring attorneys have been appointed and when all the suspensive conditions to the sale (if there are any) have been met, the attorneys will liaise with the bank and give them all the necessary documentation to get the attachment uplifted.

When the bank is satisfied they will then instruct their attorneys to notify the Sheriff to have the attachment uplifted, the Sheriff, in turn, will then notify the Deeds Office who will update their records.

It sometimes happens, she said, that the bank issues summons, obtains an order, and attaches the property and, just before the auction date, the seller reaches an agreement with the bank. However, the attachment might still reflect on the Deeds Office records. The transferring attorneys will have to have this attachment uplifted before transfer can take place.

'In my opinion, however, the estate agent is not responsible for pre-checking whether there are any interdicts on the property. He might well not even have the tools at his disposal to correctly confirm whether or not there is an interdict in place.'

'I always suggest to agents that they can use the services of attorneys such as our firm, to help when taking the mandate, to get copies of the Deeds Office printouts which will reflect any interdict, as well as a copy of the title deed for reference purposes. In this way the buyer will be able to see what conditions the property is subject to,' she said.

The estate agent can make enquiries regarding interdicts on the property but the onus is on the transferring attorney to pick up any interdict once they receive a deed of sale, she said. They have an obligation to then notify the estate agent, the seller and buyer of what they have picked up and they can then liaise with the bank to get the attachment lifted timeously, so that no delay in transfer takes place.

Evans said there are sometimes extraordinary circumstances that can complicate property transactions, and it is always best to contact a professional to assist but the Institute is available to help find the right people to answer queries if need be.

'IEASA is the professional body representing property professionals and this is why we arrange legal updates and training and encourage agents to attend these so that they can keep up to date with regulations and the consequences of such laws,' said Evans.

IEASA Western Cape Press Release

08 July 2013

Sapoa's persistence helps resolve illegal land uses in Polokwane

Sapoa's persistence helps resolve illegal land uses in Polokwane

The commercial and industrial property sector has won a key battle against illegal land uses in Polokwane, in Limpopo, thanks to the persistence of the South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa).

Illegal land uses of concern to property owners include the erection of billboards, posting of placards and parking of trailers.

After almost a year of pursuing various channels of complaint, Sapoa finally secured a meeting with the mayor of Polokwane last week to discuss the concerns.

And, thanks to Sapoa's lobbying, the first steps have been taken to legally tackle these illegal uses.

The city's chief planner, Fanie Muleya, confirmed that a court order had been granted to impound illegal billboards.

Furthermore, the city will address all the remaining illegal activities in due course.

Sapoa's role in driving the solution has been key.

The association's chief executive, Neil Gopal, said: 'It was brought to Sapoa's attention last year that there was a growing problem with illegal land uses in Polokwane. Sapoa immediately submitted a formal complaint to the municipality. When Sapoa did not receive a response, the matter was directed to the provincial office of the public protector, which investigated and again forwarded the complaint to Polokwane municipal officials, affording them an opportunity to respond.

'When Sapoa again received no response, the decision was made to escalate the complaint to national Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela.'
Sapoa decided to make one last effort with the municipality by sending the complaint to the mayor, which resulted in the meeting.

'We look forward to a successful resolution of these issues with the help of the mayor and municipality,' said Gopal.

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

05 July 2013

FUNDING REQUIRED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

I have the absolute pleasure to represent clients who are the embodyment of the South African entrepreneurial spirit.

Their Property Development Company is 100% owned by previously dissadvantaged individuals, who don't necessarily have the connections with government or municipalities that could give them the easy route of securing a tender via the back door.

Instead, they have built a sustainable company from the ground up.  Initially operating as a construction company taking on houses in the existing affordable housing developments of the very big companies operating in this sector, they have not only dreamed bigger but have embraced their dream and forged ahead against the odds and they are now poised on the brink of achieving their dream of becoming fully fledged property developers.

How have they done it?

They have secured land from land owners through options and offers to purchase with relatively long lead times for development of affordable housing.  These land parcels are universally agreed to be extremely well situated for the purpose of affordable housing.  The banks have admitted as much.  Through various agreements with professionals, who have agreed to defer payment of their fees, these gentlemen have managed to get the developments to the point of Proclamation.

They have struck a similar deal with a Civils Company to install the services and receive payment at a later stage as a percentage of sales.  They have also brokered a deal for financing of the top structures that can, unfortunately, only be finalised on Proclamation.

They are now at a stage where they need to take transfer of the properties.  I have put them in contact with the relevant divisions at banks in order to try and secure the necessary funding.  However, it seems to be a rule of universal application amongst banks that they will not finance "first time developers".

It seems that this rule supercedes the fact that these gentlemen have achieved so much already ... without outside funding.

The first project consists of 500 units and I have undertaken to see what I can do for them with regard to sourcing the funds they require.

If anyone has any suggestions with regard to potential sources of funding, I would really appreciate it if you could contact me at gareth@propertylaw.onmicrosoft.com

Gareth Shepperson

03 July 2013

FNB house price index increases


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FNB house price index increases

The FNB house price index showed mild acceleration in its year-on-year average house price in June, from a revised 6.2 percent in May to a 6.6 percent rate in June, the financial services group said on Tuesday.

"The renewed acceleration in house price growth, which resumed early in 2013 after a lull late in 2012, continued in the June version of the FNB house price index," the group said in a statement.

In real terms, adjusted for consumer price inflation, as at May there was a "very slight" year-on-year increase of 0.61 percent, with consumer price inflation at 5.6 percent year-on-year in that month being slightly lower than house price inflation.

The index's average price of homes transacted was R891,266.

In real terms the index was 18.6 percent down on last decade's real price peak reached in November 2007.

In nominal terms, prices were 15.7 percent higher.

"However, compared to June 2003, 10 years ago, the index is up 44.8 percent in real terms and 148.8 percent in nominal terms," the group said.

"(This suggests)... that the price effects of last decade's residential demand boom have far from worn off, despite a significant downward real correction since late-2007."

The group said that despite the recent improvement, the housing outlook could still remain mediocre, with the economy under "significant pressure".

It said the key release in June was the SA Reserve Bank's (SARB's) Quarterly Bulletin, which confirmed that real household disposable income growth had slowed further in the first quarter from the prior quarter's 2.4 percent quarter-on-quarter annualised rate, to 2.2 percent.

"This has a bearing on residential buyer purchasing power growth, and largely explains the recent steady deterioration in consumer confidence in recent quarters," it said.

"The current level of interest rates set by the SARB is at multi-decade lows, and indeed the stability of interest rates at these low levels has helped to gradually strengthen residential demand through 2012 and early-2013."

The group said it was, however, "questionable" whether this strengthening of residential demand could continue at a time of "clear economic weakness".

Sapa

Pretoria Public Works refurbishment to achieve green star rating

Pretoria Public Works refurbishment to achieve green star rating

The refurbishment of Pretoria's old Agrivaal building, a block away from the Union Buildings, is the first building undertaken by the National Department of Public Works to achieve a green star rating and will become one of only three green buildings in the city.


An artist's impression of what the Agrivaal building is expected to look like upon completion at the end of next year.

The department did not disclose how much the refurbishment of the existing building and construction of a new section is expected to cost, nor which government department would eventually occupy it.

Marco Macagnano, who was involved in the design of the building and speaking on behalf of the directors of PKA International Architects and Francois van der Merwe Architects in Association, said a decision was taken to respect the form and aesthetics of the existing building with the design of the new section. This was done by designing the first three storeys in similar proportion to form a podium on top of which the remaining 10 storeys of glass, brick and concrete will curve their way into the city skyline.

Macagnano said that the architects designed the building to be unique to the city and it will be visible on the Tshwane skyline.

"Since it eclectically embraces the style and culture of the old and the new, it is representative of the spirit of government which it serves and the best way to describe the style is South African contemporary.

"While distinctly South African in style, it most certainly announces the country's readiness to compete globally in the high-level delivery of world-class government buildings," he said.

The Agrivaal building at the corner of Hamilton and Edmond streets is approximately 60 years old and has great historical significance due to the older corner building, which was mandated by the South African Heritage Resources Association to be preserved and refurbished.

"Much work was done to ensure that the structure of the old building and the new building tied in perfectly to make the transition as seamless as possible," Macagnano said.

PKA International Architects and Francois van der Merwe Architects in association designed the building in order to ensure that it would be awarded four stars by the Green Building Council of South Africa, which is globally recognised for its independent accreditation in recognising excellence in sustainable and green building design.

"Once completed, the building will reach a new standard of energy efficiency, using far less electricity than a standard office building of similar size, while promoting optimised user environmental quality and occupancy comfort," he said.

Most of the material used in the construction that started in April last year, is recycled, locally sourced and environmentally friendly.

The building is expected to be completed at the end of next year.

"The interior finishes of the existing building are all restored and re-fitted, ensuring nothing goes to waste, while exterior windows and interior services are being upgraded to elevate building performance to the highest level in modern office design," Macagnano said.

The building will have a state-ofthe-art management system which monitors lighting and air-conditioning levels in all areas of the building, ensuring these are on only in areas where people are present.

Further, water will be harvested on the roofs for re-use in irrigation of new roof gardens which will ensure the building re-introduces more green area to a site than it had previously, even though the footprint of the building occupies most of the site.

Macagnano said water will also be recycled inside the building for re-use in the flushing of cisterns and urinals.

Another innovation of this building is the characteristic of its adaptability to changing tenant requirements.

"Should the tenants grow, shrink or change, the interior space planning can be completely reconfigured without damage or disruption to the building or its services," he said.

Pretoria News

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Explosive end looms for Munitoria

Explosive end looms for Munitoria

Twelve seconds. This is how long it will take to implode the former Pretoria municipal headquarters building, Munitoria, beginning at noon on Sunday.


Part of the former municipal headquarters, Munitoria, is wrapped in a blast curtain ready for the implosion on Sunday at noon.

All 120 000 tons of concrete will come down, with the 44-year-old building, a landmark in Tshwane, making way for the new Tshwane House development planned as part of the metro's programme to regenerate the inner city.

Yesterday, representatives of the City of Tshwane and Draco Demolitions, who will oversee the implosion, met residents and business owners in the area to discuss the final arrangements for the longawaited implosion.

Electronic explosives have been placed in about 1 000 columns in the empty building and will be set off from west to east (from Lilian Ngoyi Street to Sisulu Street).

The building's dividing walls, windows and fittings have been removed and only the shell remains - covered in hessian-like sheeting.

According to Teddy Habib of Draco Demolitions, the top four floors will collapse on top of each other and from there the building will fall to the side, collapsing in the open area on Johannes Ramokhoase (previously Proes) street.

Streets within a two-block radius will be cordoned off, barring members of the public from coming near the building.

Sniffer dogs will be used to ensure there are no people in the surrounding buildings.

Only certain, accredited employees of the Reserve Bank and Intelligence Services will be allowed into the zone because their activities are of national importance.

All other businesses and buildings will be closed down from 7am until after 5pm.

"We want absolute control of the site. There will be no life on the site," said project manager Peter Aborn.

City manager Jason Ngobeni said business activity on a Sunday was minimal, which was why this day had been chosen for the implosion.

"The impact on business will be small. Please bear with us," he said at a meeting between the city and stakeholders of the area yesterday.

The Tshwane Metro Police Department will patrol the area to ensure residents and members of the public are out of harm's way.

"We will deploy a substantial number of metro police officers for the day. We do not want to read that someone died, on the front page of the paper the next day," Ngobeni said.

An all-clear signal will be audible within kilometres of the building and will announce the implosion.

Habib and other on-site contractors will press the button to implode the building.

It is expected the noise of the demolition will be heard from as far as 5km away - the noise level is expected to be 140 000 decibels.

Habib said there would be a slight vibration in the immediate area, but it would be contained within the cordoned-off area. It is expected a cloud of dust will hang over the building site for about 40 minutes.

"We have a rainmaking machine to minimise the dust," said Habib.

He suggested that the surrounding buildings' air conditioning vents be closed to prevent dust damaging the systems.

The closed streets are expected to be reopened by 5.30pm on Sunday.

"This is assuming that nothing untoward happens," said Aborn.

Debris from the implosion that may end up on the surrounding streets will be removed immediately after the demolition by a clean-up team.

Aborn said it would take more than two months to remove the rubble from the site.

Ngobeni encouraged the public to view the implosion from a safe distance and be part of the experience. There will be no public viewing platform within a two-block radius of the site.

"Bring your camp chair and come watch it with your family," Ngobeni said.

High-resolution video footage and still images would be taken of the implosion to record the event.

"We want to create durable history because this is the closing of a chapter in the city," Ngobeni said.

A good viewing spot would be the Union Buildings. The Pretoria zoo says the viewing platform at the lion enclosure is the best vantage point from which to see the implosion. Certain species at the zoo will be held in their night enclosures for the duration of the implosion because they are sensitive to noise.

Veterinarians will be on site to assist if the animals are distressed.

Pretoria News


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