According to Section 10A of the Housing Act, 1997 (Act No. 107 of 1997) stipulates that the subsidy-financed property may not be disposed of by the beneficiary for a period of eight years from the date on which he or she acquired the property. This provision is to be registered against the title deed of the property and the Registrar of Deeds may not allow the transfer of ownership registration to occur without the approval of the relevant MEC.
Beneficiaries of subsidy-financed houses may therefore not sell or eliminate their properties within a period of eight years from the date on which the property was acquired, unless the property has first been offered to the relevant Provincial Human Settlements/Housing Department. It is worth noting that the sale restriction clause can only be enforced in the context of formal sale transactions between a beneficiary and a willing buyer. Therefore, in instances wherein the subsidy-financed property is sold in an informal process and transfer of ownership is not occurring, it is difficult for the Department to detect the sale transaction, thus making it hard to control or prevent such. The current mechanism of uncovering cases is where the sale transaction is reported to the Provincial Human Settlements Department, often done by a third party.
In addition, the Housing Act specifically states that “Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary in any other law, it shall be a condition of every housing subsidy, as defined in the Code, granted to a natural person in terms of any national housing programme for the construction or purchase of a dwelling or serviced site, that such person shall not sell or otherwise alienate his or her dwelling or site within a period of eight years from the date on which the property was acquired by that person unless the dwelling or site has first been offered to the relevant provincial housing department”.
Due to the illicit nature of the transactions, buyers are unable to register the acquired properties in their names through the Deeds Office. The Department considers the practice of selling properties off-register as a slap in the face to the Government’s collective efforts of housing the nation, and the fight to confront the apartheid legacy of inequality and poverty, as well as reducing the number of people living in informal settlements.
As part of the Department’s concerted efforts aimed at addressing the phenomenon of selling BNG houses, advocacy programmes are undertaken with communities to create awareness amongst citizens. Such programmes include the use of social media platforms and radio announcements. In addition to that, the Department has various training and consumer education interventions, namely;
Train the Trainer- Which is designed to provide training on human settlements policies and programme to officials working in provinces and municipalities.
Housing Consumer Education- Which targets potential human settlements beneficiaries and communities at large and provides them with information on the different programmes of the Department that they can benefit from and how to protect and maintain their properties.
Councillor Training- Is done in conjunction with SALGA and empowers Councillors on their roles and responsibilities in the delivery of housing and human settlements.
Training of Traditional Leaders- Which focusses on unlocking land for human settlements and providing education on housing legislation and policies.
While pursuing the fundamental importance of legislative compliance, the Department is similarly cognisant of the arising challenges ascribed to the restrictive nature of the guidelines contained in sections 10A and 10B of the Housing Act. The policy proposals in the draft White Paper on Human Settlements is to address this area.