December 22 2022
Convoluted regulations make solving everyday hiccups and long-term disputes a properties more challenging
Devmark Property Management has had a highly successful 2022, complying with the plethora of
regulations that suffocate real estate professionals in South Africa.
Heinrich Ehlers, director for Devmark Property Management, explains that compliance is crucial in
avoiding fines and other penalties. Often the red tape concerns sectional title property. This is of
increasing importance in South Africa, as buying and living in sectional title properties is growing in
Some of the legislation includes: the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011, Sectional Title
Schemes Management Regulations and the Sectional Title Act, 95 of 1986. There are also the general real estate Prescribed Management Rules, Prescribed Conduct Rules, the PPRA and the Community Schemes Ombud Services (CSOS) Act Regulations.
Ehlers stresses that Devmark Property Management in fact has daily challenges when it comes to sectional title legislation.
“We have to be aware of and comply with plenty of legislation. Daily, you have to reference back to the legislation to provide your client with the correct and factual answers. Currently, insurance claims and the responsibility of paying for the excess, is a big topic in sectional title schemes. Much of the time, owners don’t agree with us and we have to provide the client with legal opinions. That too doesn’t always resolve the issue and you need to refer the matter to CSOS. The CSOS is very slow and sometimes takes months to reply; never mind resolving the issue,” says Ehlers.
But, Devmark Property Management’s experience and inherent understanding of property management has shown that if a property manager provides their client with as much possible info, including the clause from the relevant regulation, the matter or issue can be resolved much more quickly.
“It obviously takes a lot of time to compile such a reply but, in the long run you save money by avoiding the ping-pong email war,” says Ehlers.
Devmark Property Management is doing its best to be patient with the authorities which it has to deal with and appreciates that these organisations may be understaffed or under-resourced.
“As a managing agent, we mostly deal with CSOS, and it can take months before they reply. It can take even longer before they attempt to resolve the issue,” explains Ehlers.
They do their utmost to deal with inefficient legislation.
“We try and resolve all issues amicably and directly with the owners of the properties that we manage. Sometimes, it is also better for us to pay a lawyer to help us in solving issues. I would rather pay money and get something resolved quicker than go through CSOS and wait months with no result,” says Ehlers.
“At the social housing scheme that we manage, we also deal with the Rental Housing Tribunal. Their responses are normally quick, but we seldom get to solve issues amicably and efficiently. Most people do not really mind the outcome of the tribunal and ignore it if it doesn’t suit them. But when there are lawyers involved, the result tends to carry more “weight” and people respond,” Ehlers says.
Property managers must deal with administrative costs which are not always easy to calculate or which can change quickly.
Each sectional title scheme needs to be registered at CSOS and a percentage of the admin levy needs to be paid over to them.
“The problem is they cannot give you an invoice, they simply tell you to work out the money owed yourself. Each scheme also needs to be Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) compliant. We, as the managing agent and property manager need to be registered at the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA). In order to register at the PPRA, you need to have a broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) score. We also register at National Association of Managing Agents (NAMA) and if you want to be a debt collector and charge fees for collecting debt you need to register at the Council for Debt Collectors. It becomes quite burdensome,” says Ehlers.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for property managers and Devmark has ideas about how to improve the systems.
“I think if the different government organisations can use the latest technology to modernise their systems, it will be greatly beneficial. Our systems and procedures are built in such a way that we try to avoid dealing with any government organisation. We also have top property lawyers on a retainer that we can contact, on a daily basis, to ensure we stay within all the different laws and regulations of property management,” says Ehlers.
And what is the biggest bugbear for a property manager like Devmark Property Management?
“I’d say it’s owners who read an article on social media about the latest in property law or regulation and then think they now know better. They keep you and your staff unnecessarily busy chasing after owners and tenants for outstanding money. Most of the time they ignore you and wait until you send them a legal letter. In big sectional title schemes, you must deal with all sorts of personalities and they all clash. The property manager also needs to act as principal or mediator to keep all the different personalities happy,” Ehlers says.
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