South Africa – Real Estate Resources
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Foreigners can own and register a mortgage on immovable property in South Africa without restrictions. Loans to legal aliens of up to 50% of the purchase price are available from South African financial institutions. To ensure repatriation, all foreign funds remitted to South Africa must be declared and documented, and the property must be endorsed ‘non-resident’.
South Africa boasts a first-world property registration system that is guaranteed and secure; conducting property surveys is unusual. For peace of mind, one may freely access records of the property interest at the office of the Registrar of Deeds.
The South African property market is dominated by a few estate agents, while private sales are rare. By law, the agent is obligated to prepare a written letter of offer. This will be submitted to the seller for approval. Both parties must sign upon acceptance. At this point, the letter of offer effectively becomes an Agreement of Sale that is legally binding to both parties. Payment of a 10% deposit is usual.
The seller then appoints a real estate attorney (conveyancer) to handle the formal processes of transfer. Your identification documents must be submitted for the registration procedure conducted at the Deeds Registry. This, and the settlement of all the government duties, is usually accomplished in six to eight weeks.
When the buyer’s name has been recorded as the new owner, the remaining balance must be paid. The conveyancer will be responsible for delivering the title deed to the new owner.
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Landlord & Tenant
Rent: Can landlord and tenant freely agree rents in South Africa?
Rents can be freely negotiated in South Africa.
However, the tenant can file a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal if the landlord is charging too much rent for poor-quality accommodation. The tribunal can order the landlord to reduce the rent if the building is not well maintained.
There is no restriction on the size of deposit, but it must be stated in the contract.
The landlord must invest the money in an interest-bearing account, and the interest rate must not be lower than the rate applicable to a savings account. Within 14 to 21 days of the end of the lease, the landlord must return the security deposit, with interest.
What rights do landlords and tenants have in South Africa, especially as to duration of contract, and eviction?
The landlord cannot prematurely end a fixed-term lease.
If the tenant remains in the unit after the end of the fixed term with the express or tacit consent of the landlord, the lease is deemed to be a periodic lease. Periodic leases can be terminated by giving a month’s written notice.
If the tenant refuses to vacate the property after the expiration of the lease, the landlord must obtain a summons from the court. If the tenant decides to respond to a summons, he or his lawyer must file within three days the “Notice of intention to defend” printed at the back of the summons. A hearing will take place. The court may then issue an eviction order. The landlord must supplement this with a warrant of eviction, stamped by the court. Under the law, notice must be given two weeks in advance before the tenant is evicted.
If the tenant poses an immediate threat to the landlord, then the landlord can file for a “summary judgment.” A summary judgment allows the sheriff to evict the tenant even if the case is still being heard in the court.
To fight off an eviction, the tenant can claim a right of retention, a right to stay in the house until the landlord compensates the tenant for any improvements made on the house.
The Sheriff with the help of the police carries out the eviction. If the tenant owes rent, the court can order the sheriff to attach the tenant’s properties to the house. It means the sheriff can take the tenant’s properties and sell them to compensate the landlord. A landlord can also file for an “interdict,” preventing the tenant from taking his things as long as the arrears are not paid.
EVICTION FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT
|Duration until completion of service of process||10|
|Duration of trial||189|
|Duration of enforcement||10|
|Total Days to Evict Tenant||209|
|Courts: The Lex Mundi Project|
How effective is the South African legal system?
The Rental Housing Act [No.50 of 1999] provides for the establishment of Rental Housing Tribunals in all provinces of South Africa and grants them the authority to settle disputes between tenants and landlords. So far only three of the nine provinces have created housing tribunals, Gauteng, Western Cape, and North West.
Rental Housing Tribunals use the same procedures as a Labor Court and give rulings with the same power as those of a magistrate’s court. The tribunal has 30 days to help the parties reach a solution. If any party is not satisfied with the proceedings of the tribunal, he may take the case to the High Court.
Recent changes in African landlord and tenant law
Rental Housing Act [No.50 of 1999] repealed rent control which had been in place since 1976. It governs the relationship between the landlord and the tenant and applies to all written and verbal agreements made, effective August 1, 2000.
Non-residents are taxed only on their South African-sourced income. Married couples are assessed and charged as separate individuals. If the property is considered part of the conjugal estate, income is divided between husband and wife in equal portions.
Income realized by non-residents is taxed at progressive rates. The following tax rates apply for the tax year March 2009 – February 2010.
2009-2010 INCOME TAX
|TAXABLE INCOME, ZAR (US$)||TAX RATE|
|Up to 132,000 (US$16,440)||18%|
|132,000 – 210,000 (US$26,155)||25% on band over US$16,440|
|210,000 – 290,000 (US$36,119)||30% on band over US$26,155|
|290,000 – 410,000 (US$51,065)||35% on band over US$36,119|
|410,000 – 525,000 (US$62,742)||38% on band over US$51,065|
|Over 525,000 (US$65,388)||40% on all income over US$65,388|
|Source: Global Property Guide|
Non-residents are entitled to allowable deductions and rebates as residents. For individuals below 65 years of age, the tax threshold is ZAR54,200 (US$6,751) while the tax rebate is ZAR9,756 (US$1,215). Tax threshold and tax rebates for individuals over 65 years of age are set at ZAR84,200 (US$10,487) and ZAR15,156 (US$1,888), respectively.
Rental income is taxed at progressive rates. Interest payments, insurance premiums, agent’s commission, and maintenance costs are deducted from the rental income.
Non-residents are liable to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the disposal of property in South Africa. CGT effective from 1 October 2001 is added to the taxable income, and is subject to the progressive income tax rates.
To compute the gain, acquisition costs, transfer costs, and property improvement costs are deducted from the selling price. A further allowable annual deduction of ZAR15,000 (US$1,868) is subtracted. The taxable gain is 25% of the resulting amount.
The disposal of property is assumed on death or emigration, and triggers the payment of CGT.
Property tax is imposed by the local government at approximately 0.07% – 0.4% of the market value of the property, depending on its size and location.
The Republic of South Africa occupies the southern end of the African continent, bordered in the north by Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe and in the east by Mozambique and Swaziland. The country faces the South Atlantic Ocean, and contains within it the independent enclave of Lesotho.
South Africa has nine provinces (Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape and Western Cape) and three capitals (Pretoria, the executive capital; Bloemfontein, the judicial capital, and Cape Town, the legislative capital). Its largest city is Johannesburg.
South Africa’s recent history has been dominated by the system of legal racial segregation known as apartheid—instituted in 1948 by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party—and the struggle against it by black South Africans and those who sympathized with them.
The fight against apartheid brought many brave and notable men and women to prominence in South Africa and around the world. Foremost among them is Nelson Mandela, who served as South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999. He was also the first South African president to be elected to the position by universal suffrage.The former militant activist, who had been incarcerated in a small cell for 27 years until he was released in 1990, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is now recognized as a South African hero and an international symbol of freedom and hope.
Mandela belongs to the African National Congress, which has been South Africa’s governing party since apartheid was dismantled in 1994. The country is a constitutional democracy headed by the President.
South Africa is the continent’s economic powerhouse, its leading industrial and manufacturing centre. Its abundant natural resources make it both the top producer of minerals in Africa and a leading tourist destination. Quite impressively, South Africa’s economy has been robust and growing since 1999, its longest expansion on record.