Check your home inspector – it’s (nearly) law

Private Property South Africa
Martin Hatchuel

One piece of legislation amongst a raft of changes to the laws that govern property transactions in South Africa could have a profound effect on the way we buy our houses in the near future.

John Graham, the director of the South African Home Inspection Academy– which equips its students with an all-round knowledge of local building methods and regulations – said that the proposed new Property Practitioner’s Bill will regulate the role of home inspectors by recognising them as a category of property practitioners alongside estate agents.

“The Bill is still in the confidential stage, and hasn’t yet been published for comment, but we expect that it will go to Cabinet in December, after which it will be opened for discussion,” he said.

If it passes, the new law will also define and regulate the role of the estate agent.

Shake-up

The new Bill comes as part of a general shake-up in the legislation affecting property transactions in general – which, following the passing of the Consumer Protection Act, is perhaps overdue.

As Private Property reported when we spoke to John earlier this month, buyers of “second hand” properties still find themselves exposed to various risks since the CPA permits private sellers to include the voetstoots clause – and because the Act “doesn’t apply to intermediaries which are already governed by other national legislation – like estate agents, who are governed by the Estate Agency Affairs Board.” (EAAB)

John said that it would appear that the Minister in the National Department of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu – under whom the EAAB now falls – “Wants to move quickly, and she’s keen to get things done, so we expect that the Bill will be fast-tracked.”

It’s going to become law

He said, too, that it’s very important that she does this.

“When it becomes law, the Bill will define the profession of home inspection – which is a necessary step in the process of regulating the profession, which is itself important because we foresee very rapid growth as consumers become aware of the reasons why they should ask for reports on properties they plan to buy.”

John – who is also the director of HouseCheck Property Inspections, the country’s largest home inspection service – said that growth in the profession will create opportunities for entrepreneurs as well as job-seekers, which is why training and skills development are vital.

“The new rules will place a much heavier onus on estate agents to provide a much deeper level of advice to their clients – and they’re going to need the services of many more trained inspectors to assess and evaluate the properties that come onto their books.”

Regulatory environment

Although it’s impossible for him to be sure at this stage, John expects that home inspectors will find themselves regulated by the body that will be created to replace the existing EAAB.

He pointed out, though, that no one expects home inspection to become compulsory.

“It will remain a voluntary service – but one that will now be properly regulated.”

And that, he said, can only be a good thing for investors and agents alike.

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