LAND AND HOUSING


Contents

Introduction

Land

What is the government’s land policy?
Laws that apply to the land reform programme
Court decisions affecting land and tenure
Land restitution
Land redistribution and land grants

Land Acquisition or Settlement Grants

- Who can get a Land Acquisition or Settlement Grant?
- Settlement Planning Grant
- How to apply for a Land Acquisition, Settlement, or Settlement Planning Grant
- Land Acquisition Grant for local authorities

Access to land if you do not have land

Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development Programme (LRAD)

- Aims of the LRAD programme
-Who can apply for redistribution?

Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) Grant

- How much is the grant?
- What does your own contribution mean?
- What projects qualify for an LRAD grant?
- How can you qualify for a grant?
- How to apply for a grant?

Land tenure reform

Different kinds of land tenure in South Africa
Laws that give people security of tenure

What does the CLRA say?

Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act

Who is covered by the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act?
What does the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act say?
How the Act protects labour tenants against evictions
Labour tenants and the Land Claims Court

Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA)

Who is covered by ESTA?
What does ESTA say?

Rights and duties of occupiers and owners
Evictions in terms of ESTA

- When is an eviction lawful?
- What the court can decide
- Urgent evictions
- Compensation if you get evicted
- When can the eviction order be carried out?
- Who can remove you?

Possible repeal of ESTA and the Land Tenure Security Bill

Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE)

Who is covered by PIE?
Evictions in terms of PIE

- When is an eviction lawful?
- What the court can decide
- Urgent evictions
- If the court grants an eviction order
- Who can remove you?

Dealing with land claims and other land reform disputes – the Land Claims Court

Housing

What is the governments housing policy?

Laws passed to ensure people have access to quality housing

The housing subsidy

What do you need to have to qualify for a housing subsidy?

What is a household?

Applying for a housing subsidy – getting your name on the waiting list

               - Checking if your name is listed on the housing waiting list

Types of housing subsidies available

- Individual subsidy
- Consolidation Subsidy
- Institutional Subsidy
- People’s Housing Process Establishment Grants
- Rural subsidy
- Project-linked subsidy
- Enhanced Expanded Discount Benefit Scheme (ECDBS)
- Community Residential Units (CRU) Programme
- Emergency housing assistance

The role of development workers in helping people to access housing subsidies

The role of local government and housing

Providing public housing
Facilitating housing development

Buying a house

The offer to purchase
Transfer
Defects in house

Renting a home

Tenants, landlords and leases
The Rental Housing Act (No 50 of 1999)

What are the rights of landlords and tenants?
What are the duties of landlords and tenants?
Rental Housing Tribunals

Tribunal powers
Making a complaint to the Tribunal
Who can lodge a complaint?
Review of the Tribunal proceedings
What happens if the parties do not follow the ruling of the Tribunal?
Where do you lodge a complaint?
Tribunal regulations
Latest proposed amendments to the Rental Housing Act

Evictions from rented property
Trespassing

Problems

Problem 1: A landlord applies for a civil eviction order
Problem 2: Being arrested and charged with trespassing
Problem 3: Protecting dismissed farmworkers against eviction
Problem 4: Protecting labour tenants against losing land
Problem 5: Provision of land, housing and services for homeless people
Problem 6: Negotiating to upgrade an informal settlement
Problem 7: Applying for an individual housing subsidy
Problem 8: Common problems in renting a house or flat
Problem 9: Falling behind on rent or rates and service payments to the local council
Problem 10: The hidden costs of buying a house
Problem 11: Falling behind on bond payments
Problem 12: Problems with a house you bought
Problem 13: Getting money from the Land Bank for farming

Checklists

General land and housing checklist
Paying off a house you have bought


Introduction

The Constitution of South Africa guarantees the right to have access to housing and land. It requires the government to pass laws and take necessary steps, within its available resources, to ensure that people have access to land, housing and security of tenure in their houses. Although it is not practical to ensure that everybody gets a house or land immediately, the government has to commit itself to making this happen over time. This is called a progressive right. The land and housing laws and policies are an important step in the process of creating access to housing and land to landless and homeless people.  The policies make provision for financial assistance in the form of housing subsidies and grants. To address these issues, the government has stated its commitment to:


Land

What is the government’s land policy?

The government has said that it is its policy and vision to address:

To carry out this policy or vision, the Government has implemented a land reform programme consisting of three elements:

Laws that apply to the land reform programme

The following are some of the most important laws relevant to the land reform programme that have been passed by the government.

Interim Protection of informal Land Rights Act (No 31 of 1996) (IPILRA)

This Act aims to protect people with insecure tenure from losing their rights to land while land reform is being introduced. The Communal Land Rights Act of 2004 will add to the IPILRA.

Communal Property Associations Act (No 28 of 1996)

This Act enables communities or groups to acquire, hold and manage property under a written constitution.

Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act (No 3 of 1996)

This Act protects the rights of labour tenants and enables them to acquire permanent land to live and work on.

See Land Reform (Labour tenants Act).

Extension of Security of Tenure Act (No 62 of 1997) (ESTA)

This Act gives people who lived on someone else's land on or after 4 February 1997 with permission from the owner, a secure legal right to carry on living on and using that land. It specifies clearly what the landlord must do before he or she can evict a tenant.

See ESTA.

Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (No 19 of 1998) (PIE)

This Act sets out how land can be orderly occupied. It explains when unlawful occupiers can be evicted and how to prohibit unlawful eviction. This Act repeals the Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act of 1951.

See PIE.

The Transformation of Certain Rural Areas Act No 94 of 1998

This Act aims to allow for the transfer of 1.7 million hectares of land to the communities consisting of 70 000 people in the former 'coloured reserves' in the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State.

Court Decisions affecting land and tenure

Between 2007 to 2011 there were a number of important court decisions affecting laws around access to land, land tenure and eviction. While the details and implications of these decisions are too broad to detail here an important general principle concerns the role of municipal government.  Many of the rulings give the sense that in situations where eviction is going to make groups of poor people homeless, the municipality must be brought into the case and report to the court on the availability of alternative accommodation.

In the case of Occupiers of 51 Olivia Road, Berea Township and 197 Main Street Johannesburg v City of Johannesburg and others in February 2008, the Constitutional Court found that while the municipality may not necessarily be able to find suitable alternative accommodation for evictees of council property it must make a good faith attempt to do so.  The court stated the in such cases that municipalities must at least “meaningfully engage” with the residents being evicted.   Municipalities must, therefore, work closely with such residents, determine what their housing needs are and make every attempt within their available resources to prevent the residents from becoming homeless.

In February 2010, the Constitutional Court also ruled that a municipal housing  policy which provided temporary accommodation only for  those evicted from unsafe buildings owned  by the municipality itself, was unconstitutional.  This was because such a policy excluded tenants evicted from unsafe privately-owned buildings from consideration for emergency accommodation. Municipal housing policy concerning temporary accommodation for tenants evicted from unsafe buildings must also therefore, cover tenants renting privately

In May 2010, the Constitutional Court declared the Communal Land Right Act (11 of 2004) (CLaRA) unconstitutional.  CLaRA made provision for new land tenure forms for people living in old “homelands” and other communal land.  But the court found that there had been inadequate consultation with communities and provincial structures prior to the adoption of the Act.  Concerns were also given that ClaRA did not take into account ‘living customary law’ practices in many communities and that rural voices were not heard.


Land redistribution

All claims for land restitution had to be submitted to the Land Claims Commission before 31 December 1998. The Land Claims Court is still in the process of reviewing the claims. The Recent Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act gives the Minister of Land Affairs extra powers to expropriate land for purposes of settling restitution claims.

Land redistribution and land grants

Land Redistribution aims to give those most in need a chance to get land for housing and productive purposes. It caters for urban and rural areas and includes labour tenants, farm workers and people who want to start farming.

A grant is a sum of money that you do not have to pay back. The government pays the money to help people pay for land or something else on the land like a well or fencing. It is not money in your hand. The money goes directly to the person or agent that is selling the land or the service. The government gives no more than R16 000 in subsidy money to any one applicant/household. If you apply for a grant from the Department of Land Affairs, you cannot get a housing subsidy from the Department of Housing as well.

There are five different grants from the Department of Land Affairs to assist with the land reform programme:

See The housing subsidy.
See Land Redistribution Agricultural Development (LRAD) grant.

Land Acquisition or Settlement Grants

You can use this grant to buy land or get secure tenure to land you already occupy. You can also use the grant for improvements like housing, water supply, sanitation, internal roads and fencing.

Who can get a Land Acquisition or Settlement Grant?

To qualify for the grant, you have to be a South African citizen living in a household where your combined income is less than R2 500 per month per applicant/household. A household means a single adult older than 18 with dependants, or two adults with or without dependants. Households can apply individually or in a group. When households apply as a group, the average household income for the group must be less than R2 500 per month. It is important to understand that you will not automatically get a grant if you qualify.

People who could qualify for the grant are:

Settlement Planning Grant

The same people who qualify for the Settlement Grant also qualify for the Settlement Planning Grant. This grant is meant to assist poor communities to employ planners and other professionals to help them plan their settlement. It can cover services like legal fees, land use planning, and infrastructure planning. The money gets paid in two instalments to the professional: once the project proposal is complete, and once the detailed settlement plan is done. This grant is worked out as a portion of the R16 000 that each household in the settlement is entitled to. The amount that is paid to the professionals is deducted from each household's R16 000.

How to apply for a Land Acquisition, Settlement, or Settlement Planning Grant

Contact your nearest office of the Department of Land Affairs and fill in a registration of need form. When you apply as a group, you must elect a representative to make the application on your behalf.

Land Acquisition Grant for local authorities

Many rural towns in South Africa have commonages. Long ago this was used by town people who did not have land, to graze their animals or grow crops. People had to pay a small fee to the local authority to use the commonage. As this practice fell way, the local authorities started to lease out their commonages, mostly to rich farmers who often paid very little for the land. The Land Acquisition Grant is to help local authorities buy land to create a commonage, or to add to the existing commonage, so that the poorer residents in the town can use the commonage for grazing animals or planting crops.

If there is a need in your community to use a commonage, you must go to your local authority or the provincial Department of Land Affairs and discuss this option with them.

In order to qualify for this grant, your local authority must:

Access to land if you do not have land

The purpose of the land redistribution programme is to provide people with land for housing in urban and rural areas as well as land for farming purposes. The government realises that poor people cannot buy land at normal prices. The government will assist them to buy land using the land grants - and in that way speed up land reform. The government will make state land available and buy land from willing sellers on behalf of applicants. Expropriation, where the state forces the owner to sell, will only be a last resort.

Land tenure reform

When people talk about 'tenure', they mean the different ways in which you can own or occupy land or housing. When people use the term 'security of tenure' they mean that your right to stay where you are is secure. You cannot be thrown off or evicted easily.

Different kinds of land tenure in South Africa

Private ownership - Private ownership means that a person or business owns the house or the land through having a registered title deed. 

Communal ownership - This means people own land or property together as a community or as a group. This can be organised as a trust, Section 21 company, voluntary association or communal property associations (CPA).

Renting - You can rent your house or land from its owner and pay them a monthly fee.

Laws that give people security of tenure

Tenure reform must give everybody the same amount of security wherever they stay. Three laws have been introduced to give people more security of tenure and prevent illegal evictions:

Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA)

Who is covered by ESTA?

ESTA covers people who live in rural areas, on farms and on undeveloped land. It also protects people living on land that is encircled by a township or land within a township that is marked for agricultural purposes. The Act specifically gives women occupiers the same rights as men occupiers. However, the Act does not cover:

people who live in a proclaimed or recognised township

What does ESTA say?

The Act says that if you have lived on someone else's land - with permission of the owner - on or before 4 February 1997, you have a secure legal right to live on the land. An owner can not change or cancel these rights without your consent unless there is a good reason for doing so, or until you have had a chance to answer any allegations made against you.

It sets out the steps you can follow to strengthen your land rights. You can apply for a state grant that can be used to secure tenure rights - either in the form of a development on the land where you are living, or on another piece of land.

See Land Acquisition or Settlement grants.

The Act says you have the right to receive visitors, to have your family live with you, to have access to water, health and education services, to receive post and other forms of communication. The Act also gives people the right to visit and maintain family graves in rural and peri-urban areas. This right must be balanced with the owner's right to privacy. The owner or person in charge can set reasonable conditions on how this right is exercised.

The Act gives special rights to long term occupiers. If you are older than 60 years, and you have lived on the land for 10 years, or if you become disabled while you were employed by the owner, you can stay on that land for the rest of your life.

The Act protects you against unfair and arbitrary evictions and sets out how disputes over land rights can be resolved with mediation, arbitration or the courts.

Rights and duties of occupiers and owners

The Act spells out clearly what are the rights and duties of occupiers and owners.

Occupiers

Occupiers must:

The Act says that occupiers may not:

Owners

Owners must:

The Act says owners or persons in charge have the right to:

Evictions in terms of ESTA

The following actions are all forms of evictions:

The Act protects you against unfair and arbitrary evictions. An eviction may be fair and occupiers may be evicted from land if they:

In cases where the eviction is fair, a landlord must follow the requirements of the law in getting an occupier to leave the property, for example, by giving the required notice. However, if the occupier refuses to leave, the landlord must then get a court order to enforce the eviction. If the occupier disputes the eviction then the reasons for this must be raised in the court.  The Act protects people who believe they have been unfairly evicted.

 When is an eviction lawful?

An eviction is lawful if the following requirements have been met:

The eviction must also be just and equitable. The court will look at the following questions to decide whether it is just and equitable:

 What the court can decide

The court may or may not grant an eviction order, based on the following conditions:

An eviction order given by a magistrate’s court must go to the Land Claims Court for automatic review of the magistrate’s decision. In other words, the eviction order issued by the Magistrates Court must be confirmed by the Land Claims Court before it can be enforced.

Urgent evictions

The court can give a provisional order for an urgent eviction when:

 Compensation if you get evicted

If the court grants an eviction order, the court must order the owner to compensate you for any improvements to the land or property, or for crops you planted which you have not harvested yet. If you were employed by the owner, you must get all your wages that are due to you.

 When can the eviction order be carried out?

The eviction can only take place once:

 Who can remove you?

Only the sheriff of the court or someone under their supervision, can carry out an eviction. If at any time, the owner or the person in charge forces you off the land, it is criminal offence. They can be jailed or fined for this. You will be compensated for any losses, and have the right to return to the land on terms and conditions decided by the court.

Case Study

Frank Cloete was ordered to leave his house on a farm after he was fired from his job because of repeatedly being absent from work without a valid reason. The farmer gave Frank one month’s notice to vacate his house. Frank hasn’t been able to find a place to stay. The farmer says he will throw him out at the end of the month if he doesn’t leave voluntarily. What are Frank’s rights?

A landowner/employer must take certain steps before evicting an occupier. Section 9(2) of ESTA says:

a.  A person’s right to stay in a house ends if they are fairly dismissed (in terms of the Labour Relations Act No 66 of 1995), if they resign or are retrenched.

See Dismissals.

b.  The land owner must give the occupier, the municipality and the provincial Department of Land Affairs  2 months notice of the intention to evict. In the case of family members of deceased employees (employees who have died) the notice period must be 12 months.

c. The land owner cannot evict a person without a court order. A court can order an eviction to be stopped, a person allowed back into the house and/or the payment of damages to the person.

d. The occupiers must be given a chance to defend themselves in court against the eviction.

e.  Unless the occupiers have committed a serious offence, the landowner must find alternative, suitable accommodation before the eviction.

f.  The court’s decision to grant an eviction order must be based on just and fair reasons taking into account, for example:

  • how long the person has been living there
  • whether there is alternative accommodation
  • whether the occupier complied with the duties

In the first place, if Frank thinks his dismissal was unfair he can challenge this in the CCMA (See Solving disputes under the LRA). While the case is being challenged in the CCMA, he has a right to remain in the house. However, if the CCMA upholds the dismissal, then Frank will have to leave the house so long as the farmer has followed the steps prescribed in ESTA. The farmer cannot evict Frank without a court order.

Possible repeal of ESTA and the Land Tenure Security Bill

A National Survey on Evictions conducted in 2005 showed that more people living on farms had been evicted in the 10 years of democracy (1994-2003) than in the 10 years,before this  and only one percent of these evictions involved legal proceedings and a court order (as required by the Constitution).  Also, only one farm owner was prosecuted for illegal eviction.  There was therefore little inclination to implement ESTA or its the Labour Reform (Labour Tenants) Act of 1996.

In 2010 the government introduced the Land Tenure Security Bill which was intended to replace both ESTA and the Labour Reform (Labour Tenants) Act.  In doing so the government acknowledged that  ESTA had not been effective in preventing farm evictions. Apart from poor enforcement, many farm owners had found ways to avoid the legislation or find loopholes in it.

The Land Tenure Security Bill, if enacted, would provide for: the continued protection of the rights of people living and working on farms.  It would provide a support framework for sustainable livelihoods for farm workers that would, (amongst other things) address the need for sustained food production and state assistance in the settlement on alternative land,  Importantly the Bill would ensure that there is a clear legal distinction between the rights of farm dweller as employees, and their rights as occupants.

People who would be covered by the new law include those living and working on farms and  those associated with them, as well as farm owners and their agents.  The Bill addresses the rights of these stakeholders.

The Land Tenure Security Bill willl also provide a framework for the following

In mid-2011 the Bill was sent back to the Department of Rural Development & Land Reform for reconsideration after stakeholders representing both farm owners and farm dwellers raised a range of concerns.

Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE), No 19 of 1998

The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act No 19 of 1998 (also called PIE) provides procedures for eviction of unlawful occupants and prohibits unlawful evictions. The main aim of the Act is to protect both occupiers and landowners.

An unlawful occupier is a person who occupies land without the express or tacit permission of the owner or the person in charge. Tacit permission is when the owner is aware of the occupant being on the land or premises but does nothing to stop this.

Who is covered by PIE?

Anyone who is an unlawful occupier, which includes tenants who fail to pay their rentals and bonds, is covered by PIE.  It excludes anyone who qualifies as an ‘occupier’ in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act

Evictions in terms of PIE

When is an eviction lawful?

For an eviction to happen lawfully, certain procedures must be followed. If any one of them is left out, the eviction is unlawful. So, if an owner wants to have an unlawful occupier evicted, they must do the following:

A person who wants to defend the court action should approach the Justice Centre at the Magistrate’s court for assistance. An occupier threatened with eviction can apply for legal aid assistance and representation.

What the court can decide

The court will only give an eviction order if it is proved that:

Urgent evictions

The Act also allows for urgent eviction proceedings. This will be granted if the owner can show that:

If the court grants an eviction order

The eviction order will state a date by when you have to leave the land, and also the date on which the eviction will take place if you do not vacate the land.

The court order may also make an order for your buildings to be demolished.

Who can remove you?

Only the sheriff of the court can carry out an eviction.

Dealing with land claims and other land reform disputes - the Land Claims Court

The Land Claims Court (LCC) specializes in dealing with disputes that arise out of laws that underpin South Africa’s land reform programme. These are the Restitution of Land Rights Act, the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act and the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA). The LCC has the same status as the High Courts. Any appeal against a decision of the LCC lies with the Supreme Court of Appeal, and if appropriate, to the Constitutional Court. The LCC can hold hearings in any part of the country if it thinks this will make it more accessible and it can conduct its proceedings in an informal way if this is appropriate.

See Labour tenants and the Land Claims Court.


Housing

What is the governments housing policy?

In 1994 millions of people in South Africa stayed in informal houses, overcrowded backyard shacks or far from where they worked.  The housing backlog and the slum living conditions it created was a central concern of the government.   

In September 2004, the government released a comprehensive housing plan for the following five years.  This plan, called “Breaking New Ground”, had the following targets:

  1. Removal or improvement of all slums in South Africa as rapidly as possible, but not later than 2014;
  2. Fast-tracking of the provision of formal housing within human settlements for the poorest of the poor and those people able to afford rent and or mortgages;
  3. The creation of rental stock of housing for a rapidly growing, mobile (migrant) and urban population within the inner city and other locations close to employment opportunities;
  4. To speed up development by removing administrative blockages and to aim to reduce the time for permission to be granted for building to 50% of the current time;
  5. To educate and train housing consumers (owners and rental users) on their rights and responsibilities.

 The “Breaking New Ground” Plan includes the development of low-cost housing, a stronger emphasis on medium-density housing, affordable rental accommodation, the strengthening of partnerships with private housing developers; social infrastructure and facilities. The Plan also aims to change existing spatial settlement patterns, driven by the need to build multicultural communities in a non-racial South Africa.  The gradual replacement of informal settlements with adequate and secure housing in well-serviced communities is a critical aspect of the plan.

Laws passed to ensure people have access to quality houses

The following are some of the important laws that have been passed to ensure people have access to quality housing:

Development Facilitation Act (1995)

This Act makes it possible to speed up land development, especially the provision of serviced land for low-income housing. It can help poor people, in that it makes it easier for local authorities to provide land and services faster.  In June, 2010 however, the Constitutional Court ruled that certain sections of the Development Facilitation Act were unlawful as they undermined local government’s primary jurisdiction over urban planning and zoning, The court gave the government 24 months to remedy the situation. The Act will continue to apply outside of the Municipalities of Johannesburg and eThekwini until June, 2012.

Housing Act (1997)

This Act makes provision for all the different spheres of the state and various other bodies to assist those most in need to get housing.

See Housing.

The Rental Housing Act (1999)

This Act deals with the relationship between landlords and tenants and it applies to all written or verbal lease agreements entered into on or after 1 August 2000.

See Rental Housing Act.

The Home Loan and Mortgage Disclosure Act (2000) -  This law ensures that banks lend money to all communities and do not refuse to give bonds to some communities while giving to others;

The Housing Consumer Protection Measures Act (1998) – This Act protects new home owners from getting poor quality houses by making sure that all house builders are registered with the National Home builders Registration Council and all new houses are enrolled under the Defect Warranty Scheme.  House builders must comply with certain building standards and houses must be at least 30 square meters in size;

Housing Amendment Act (2001) – This Act gives the Minister of Housing the power to decide procurement policy on housing development so that, for example, local building materials or local labour can be used in a construction project.  It also limits the sale of state subsidized houses.

The housing subsidy

A subsidy is a grant of money which is used to assist homeless people who qualify to build a house. A subsidy does not have to be paid back.  The subsidy money does not go directly to the homeowner.  Instead it goes to the developer that is building the house.  The developer can be a private company, the local authority or a community organisation.

 What do you need to have to qualify for a housing subsidy?

 In order to qualify for a housing subsidy, you need to have the following:

 It is very important to warn people who want to apply for a housing subsidy of the following:

What is a household?

To apply for a subsidy you have to be part of a household. The subsidy scheme recognises different households as couples who are married or who live together and single women or men with dependants (children/old/disabled). Single person households do not qualify for a government housing subsidy although they can still rent council houses.

Applying for a housing subsidy – getting your name on the waiting list

People often ask how they can put their names on the housing waiting list. Many of these people are new arrivals in the urban areas or young people who do not yet have a house and may be newly married.  They may also be people who used to live with their parents and who now want to live on their own with their families.  However due to the big housing backlog not everyone who wants to get a house can get one immediately.  People who earn enough money to buy a house can go to the bank and take a loan and buy a house without the support of the government. But if you earn less than R 3 500 per month and you qualify in all the other ways listed above, then you can apply to get government assistance to get a house.

Local government is responsible for the delivery of housing and most local governments have housing departments.  You can put your name on the waiting list at the housing department of the local council offices.  Many councils have set up help desks to assist families with housing problems

Checking if your name is listed on the housing waiting list

Some people complain that they have been on the housing waiting list for a long time but they have not yet received a house.  They see new housing developments and want to know when they will receive an RDP house.  It is possible to check if someone is on the housing waiting list by going to the following website: www.ndd.co.za.  You will have to enter the ID number of the person to see if he or she is on the waiting list.

Types of housing subsidies available

Individual subsidy – buying a house as an individual household

This subsidy is for low-income households wishing to buy residential property for the first time and may be used to purchase an existing house including the land on which the house stands. This subsidy can only be used once by a successful applicant.  In 2011 households with an income of R1 500 per month or less are eligible for a subsidy of R84 000.  Households with an income between R1 501 and R 3500 per month are eligible for a subsidy of  R81 521.

 How much is an individual subsidy (worth)?

It depends on how much your gross (before deductions) monthly household income is. In 2011 the subsidies were worth the following:

The subsidy amounts are fixed and are increased on an annual basis (in April of each year).

How much will I have to pay in?

You will have to pay the difference between the Individual Housing Subsidy and the cost of the existing house. For example, if you buy a house for R85 814 and receive a subsidy of R84 000, you will have to pay in R814, plus the transfer, bond registration and conveyancing attorney's costs.

However, if you buy a house for R80 087 and receive a subsidy of R84 000, you will be able to pay for at least part of the transfer, bond registration and attorney's costs out of the R3  913 that is left of the subsidy money. Remember that this money will not be paid to you, but directly to the relevant party.

How do I apply for an individual housing subsidy?

There are two kinds of Individual Housing Subsidies, based on whether you can pay your contribution to the house out of your savings, or if you need to borrow money to pay for it.

What documents must I supply when applying for a subsidy?

You will need to supply:

  1. A copy of your bar-coded South African ID, that of your partner or spouse, and the birth certificates of your financial dependents.
  2. Your marriage certificate, if you are married
    OR
    Your divorce papers, if you are divorced with financial dependents.
  3. A recent payslip (no more than six months old) as proof of income.

If you are applying for a Non-Credit-Linked Individual Subsidy, you will need to supply a certified copy of the signed agreement of sale for the property. Be sure to make the sale conditional to your receiving a housing subsidy.
OR
If you are applying for a Credit-Linked Individual Subsidy, you will need to supply a certified copy of the signed agreement of sale for the property. Be sure to make the sale conditional on your receiving a government housing subsidy AS WELL AS a house bond. You will also need to provide proof that the house bond has been approved.

 How is the individual housing subsidy paid out?

A housing subsidy is not a cash payout but is paid directly to the financial institution from which you are receiving a housing bond (in the case of Credit-Linked Individual Subsidies) or the seller (in the case of Non-Credit-Linked Individual Subsdies).

Will I have to pay anything back?

The housing subsidy is not a loan and you do not need to pay it back.

 Consolidation Subsidy

This is for people who have previously received a subsidy, live on a serviced site and want to build a better house such as building a top structure. This money can only be used for building as services have already been provided on the site. In 2011 households with an income under R1 500 per month qualify for a subsidy of R54 906.  Households with an income between R1 501 and R 3500 per month qualify for a subsidy of R52 427.

 Institutional Subsidy

This is for non-profit organisations like churches, local authorities or housing associations (also called “social housing institutions”) that want to provide rented accommodation to people from lower income groups.  It is called an institutional subsidy because it goes to the institution who can rent out the housing to different families.  A family who lives in this type of rented accommodation does not jeopardise their chance to apply for their own subsidy at a later date.  This is because the subsidy for rented housing is taken in the name of the organisation and not in the name of the individual. The homes developed through the institutional subsidy must remain in the ownership of the organisation for at least four years after they are built.  In 2011, the subsidy for the institutional subsidy per household is R55 706 which is paid directly to the non-profit organisation. The organisation must add capital.

People’s Housing Process establishment grants

These are special subsidies that are available to communities, or organised groups of households to enhance their housing subsidy by building or organising the building of their own homes themselves. By using their own labour rather than paying someone else, these households can make their housing subsidy and personal contribution go further by building better quality and/or larger houses for less money. An add-on of up R570 per subsidy is available under this scheme. In addition, the People’s Housing Process can also include the following support:

 Rural subsidy

This subsidy is available to people who don’t have formal tenure rights to the land on which they live.  (Such land is owned by the government and tenure granted in terms of traditional laws and customs). The rural subsidy is available only on a project basis and beneficiaries themselves may decide on how to use their subsidies. The subsidy may be used for building houses, providing services of a combination of both. In 2011 the value of this subsidy was R54 906.

 Project-linked subsidy

This scheme promotes home ownership among tenants of publicly-owned rental housing (municipal and provincial). Purchasers can receive a discount on the selling price of the property. When this happens the property is transferred free of any further costs. Some Municipalities have already transferred much of their housing stock to tenants who have utilised the Enhanced Expanded Discount Benefit Scheme.

Enhanced Expanded Discount Benefit Scheme (EEDBS)

This scheme promotes home ownership among tenants of publicly-owned rental housing (municipal and provincial).  Purchasers can receive a discount on the selling price of the property.   When this happens the property is transferred free of any further costs.  Some Municipalities have already transferred much of their housing stock to tenants who have utilised the Enhanced Expanded Discount Benefit Scheme.

Community Residential Units (CRU) Programme

This programme provides funds for the redevelopment of government-owned housing stock (e,g, hostels, council flat buildings) for low cost rental. CRU targets low income persons and households earning below R3500 per month who are not able to be accommodated in the formal private rental and social housing markets.

The funds through the CRU Programme will be utilised for development of the following public rental housing assets:

Emergency housing assistance

This programme applies to those experiencing emergency situations of exceptional housing need who are not in a position to address their housing emergency from their own resources or from other sources. Income qualifications are the same as those for other subsidy schemes but, depending on the circumstances of the emergency, households/persons with a monthly income exceeding the maximum income.

In order to access funds under this programme, the municipality must first identify a need for emergency housing, and apply to the to the Provincial Department. Communities should approach their municipality for assistance under this Programme when an emergency situation arises (e.g. fire, flood, etc.). The amount of the grant will be determined by the Provincial MEC of Human Settlements based on the nature andextent of the emergency housing situation and a properly prepared project plan.

NOTE: People with are disabilities (or who are health-stricken) may receive the higher housing subsidy for Individual, Project-Linked or Relocation Assistance even if their household income is more than R1 500 but less than R3 500. They are also entitled to receive an amount higher than the usual subsidy amount to cover the cost of special structures to meet their needs such as a wheelchair ramp for the mobility impaired.

The role of development workers in helping people to access housing subsidies

Some people have complained that the housing subsidy is too little and that the houses that are built are too small.  This is an important area where development workers can help communities to build better quality houses.

 Some ways to do this include: 

Organisations and development workers can also help with problems in housing projects. For example, there have been some instances where communities have reported corruption in housing projects such as:

Here are some things you can do to assist in solving these problems: 

The role of local government and housing

The law requires all local authorities to have an Integrated Development Plan (IDP) showing how they plan to develop land and housing in their area. The plan must cater for all the development needs in the area, including housing. If there are homeless people living in the area, it is the local authority's job to find land where they can be settled.

Providing public housing

Local authorities are not given money from central government to fund housing, but they can raise their own money to provide for land and housing. There is a duty on government to provide people with rental housing in terms of the Rental Housing Act.  Often they own a lot of low-income houses which many people still rent from them. The local authority is the landlord and decides who can get a house. They will give preference to families of single people when a house becomes available.

See Problem 5: Provision of land, housing and services for homeless people.

See Drawing up an integrated development plan.

According to the Municipal Systems Act (No 32 of 2000), every municipality has to draw up and pass a by-law on credit control and managing debts. This should include provisions for arrangements for people who are in arrears - particularly for people who are indigent (living in poverty). It should say what penalties there are for people who don’t keep up on any of their payments, including the disconnection of services or the eviction of tenants or owners.

Facilitating housing development

Local authorities are often in an excellent position to facilitate new housing developments, or to act in partnership with developers. In rural towns, they are often the only agents with the necessary experience and resources.

See Problem 9: Falling behind on payments of rent, rates and services to the local council.


Buying a house

Getting money is the first step in the process of buying a house. You need some savings because you have to pay a deposit of between 5% and 20% of the price of the house, before any bank will lend you money. Also, if you qualify you can get a housing subsidy. When you have paid your deposit and worked out what your subsidy will be (if any), you must borrow the rest of the money to buy the house. The money you borrow from a bank is called a mortgage bond or home loan.

Your monthly repayments go towards paying off:

Interest rates change over time. If the interest rate goes down this means your repayments will go down. If it goes up, your repayments will go up.

The time over which you pay back the loan is called the 'redemption period'. It is usually 20 years, but you can pay the money off quicker if you have spare cash.

Banks usually only lend money to people with stable jobs. Most banks insist that your bond repayment is not higher than 25% of your income, or 30% of your joint income if you are married. Banks will also only lend you money to buy a house made with brick or concrete walls, and zinc or asbestos roofing. 

See Problem 11: Falling behind on bond payments.

The offer to purchase

Your offer to the seller to buy the house must be made in writing. Sometimes the seller tries to put a 'voetstoets’ into the offer before he or she will sign it. This means that you agree to buy the house exactly as it is and you can never ask the seller to do repairs for anything. Before you allow a ‘voetstoets’ clause, you should make sure you are happy that there are no problems that you don't know about.

When both you and the seller sign the Offer to Purchase it becomes a contract, called the Deed of Sale. By law the buyer and seller must then obey the contract.

If you buy a house under leasehold or Deed of Grant, you usually go to the offices of the Township Manager or the Home Ownership Division. If it is a new house, you fill in forms to apply for your lease-hold or Deed of Grant. If it is not a new house, you go there to sign the transfer papers and to pay the bond registration and transfer fees. Take your ID or reference book, marriage certificate and if you have one, your decree of divorce or spouse's death certificate with you.

Transfer

This is the change of ownership from the seller to you, the buyer. A special lawyer, called a conveyancer, writes a document known as a Deed of Transfer. This document then goes to the Deeds Office for the area where the house is. Once the Registrar of Deeds signs the Deed of Transfer it is called the title deed and it proves that you are the legal owner of the property. You get a copy and the Deeds Office keeps a copy. Before you buy the house you should check that the seller is the real legal owner of the house. You can do this by checking the title deed at the Deeds Office.

Defects in a house

If a builder builds a new house for you, you have to sign a delivery note saying that you are happy that the house was completed according to the plan. The builder then gives you a three-month guarantee. This means the builder is responsible for the first three months for fixing any problems in the way the house was built.

Sometimes hidden problems only show after the first three months. For example, if the roof collapses after the first few years, it may be the builder's fault. This is known as a latent defect.

See Problem 12: Problems with a house you bought.


Renting a house

Tenants, landlords and leases

If you pay to rent a house, you are called a tenant, or a lessee. The owner of the house is called the landlord or lessor. The tenant and landlord have an agreement, called a lease. The lease can be for a fixed time, in which case the landlord does not have to give you notice to end the lease and you must leave the house on the date when the lease ends, unless the lease is renewed by agreement with the landlord. The landlord cannot make you leave before the date when the lease ends, unless you break a condition of the lease, for example, if you do not pay rent on time. The lease can also be for an indefinite time where there is no time limit on the lease. In this case the landlord can only end the lease by giving you notice as prescribed in the lease agreement. If there is no lease agreement then the notice given should be reasonable. If you think the notice was unreasonable, you can take the case to court where it will be decided whether the notice was reasonable or not.

See Problem 8: Common problems in renting a house or flat.

Where people rent their houses from the local authority or town council, then it is the local authority who will decide who can get a house.

The Rental Housing Act (No 50 of 1999)

The Rental Housing Act controls the relationship between landlords and tenants in the private rental sector. The Act protects tenants from landlords for example, if they charge very high rentals for bad accommodation. It also protects landlords from tenants for example, tenant committees that hold back rent money or try to take over the running of buildings. It provides for mechanisms to resolve disputes, for the establishment of Rental Housing Tribunals and a system for building positive relationships between landlords and tenants. The Act applies to all written or verbal residential lease agreements entered into on or after 1st August 2000. 

The Rental Housing Amendment (RHA) Act, 2007 was passed by Parliament to address some administrative issues and implementation of the 1999 Act.  One of the most important changes is the definition of “unfair practice.”  An unfair practice is any act or omission by either a landlord or tenant that goes against the Act or the Unfair Practice Regulations.  The new Unfair Practice Regulations are expected to come into force by mid-2008.

The following is a brief list of some of the rights and duties of landlords and tenants. These are either already in the Act or will appear in the Unfair Practice Regulations when they are published.

What are the rights of landlords and tenants?

A landlord has the right to:

A tenant has the right to:

What are the duties of landlords and tenant?

A landlord a duty to:

A tenant has a duty to:

 Rental Housing Tribunals

The Act provides for the establishment of Rental Housing Tribunals in all the provinces. The Act gives the Tribunals the powers to make rulings that are the same as the ruling of a magistrate's court. The service they provide is free.  To be clear on what your rights and obligations are, refer to the Unfair Practices Regulations. These deal with:

Example

A tribunal can order a landlord to reduce the rent if a building is not being maintained properly.

An important change brought about by the Rental Housing Amendment (RHA) Act, 2007 is the expansion of the powers of the Residential Housing Tribunal.

Tribunal Powers

1. Spoliation orders:  This prevents a landlord or tenant from taking the law into their own hands by seizing goods.   A spoliation order restores the property to the owner while waiting for a full hearing on the matter.

For example:  A landlord claims that a tenant owes him back-rent and removes a fridge (which came with the house as part of the lease) that the tenant needs.  The tenant can lodge a complaint with the Tribunal which can now make a Spoliation order forcing the landlord to return the fridge.

2. Interdictions: These are orders which would prevent a landlord or tenant from continuing with a certain action or require either party to undertake a particular action.  The complaining party alleges that such an action, or the lack of an action, is an Unfair Practice

Example  A: A tenant allows rubbish to gather around the property and does not respond to requests to remove it. The landlord can apply for an interdiction obliging the tenant to remove the rubbish and to keep the property clean in future.

Example B: The landlord makes frequent unwelcome visits to the rented house and the tenant feels harassed. The tenant can approach the Tribunal for an interdiction against the landlord obliging him to respect the tenant’s privacy (“quiet enjoyment.”)

3. Attachment orders: A landlord would usually try and get an attachment order for the tenant’s property once the Tribunal has determined that back rent owing to the landlord has not been paid and following an interdiction against the tenant 

Spoliation orders would generally be sought by the tenant against the landlord. Interdictions, however, are likely to be sought by either a landlord or tenant in various situations where one party is alleging that the other is committing an unfair practice.  Attachment orders would usually be sought by a landlord against a tenant.

Making a complaint to the Rental Housing Tribunal

Who can lodge a complaint?

Any tenant or landlord or group of tenants or landlords or interest group can lodge a complaint to the tribunal.

Review of the Rental Housing Tribunal proceedings

If a person feels dissatisfied with the proceedings of the tribunal, they can take this on review to the High Court but they will have to pay the costs of this.

See Problem 8: Common problems in renting a house or flat.

What happens if parties do not follow the ruling of the Tribunal?

A ruling by the Tribunal is like an order of a magistrate’s court and must be enforced in exactly the same way.  People can be fined or sent to prison for up to two years if they do the following:

Where do you lodge a complaint

Look in the resources section for contact details on the Rental Housing Tribunals.

Tribunal regulations

The procedures of the Rental Housing Tribunal will be governed by a new national set of regulations. These Procedural Regulations are important because a landlord or tenant will be able to challenge a Tribunal’s ruling if she/he can prove that the Tribunal did not follow its own procedure.  The new regulations are expected to be operational from late 2011 or early 2012.

Latest proposed amendments to the RHA

As of late 2011, not all provinces have established Rental Housing Tribunals.  An amendment to the Rental Housing Act, expected to be enacted by 2012, makes it clear that all Provinces must establish such Tribunals. Furthermore, the amendment bill provides that all Municipalities must establish a Rental Housing Information Office in their areas of jurisdiction to provide both tenants and landlords with information regarding their rights and obligations. People should be aware, however, that it may take small to medium size Municipalities (in particular) some time before they are able to establish such information offices.

The proposed amendments also include a clause by which the Rental Housing Tribunals will be allowed to reverse a previous decision if the Tribunal determines that such a decision was made in error or without access to the right information, testimony, etc.

Evictions from rented property

There is no longer a common law right for an owner to evict someone from his or her property. The Supreme Court of Appeal has determined that defaulting tenants, in other words, tenants who have not paid their rent, must be treated in exactly the same way as all other illegal occupiers. This means that the owner or landlord must follow the provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) (except in areas where ESTA operates) if they want to evict a tenant. So, defaulting tenants are entitled to the same types of procedural protection before they are evicted, such as notice of the intention to evict as well as (at least) 14 days notice of the court hearing.  This notice must also be sent to the municipality. The court will assess whether the person is an unlawful occupier and whether the owner has reasonable grounds to evict them. In its decision, the Court will take into account whether there is alternative accommodation available.

See Problem 1: A landlord applies for a civil eviction order.
See PIE Act.
See Problem 3: Protecting dismissed farmworkers against eviction.
See Problem 4: Protecting labour tenants against losing land.

The Rental Housing Tribunal does NOT have the authority to hear eviction cases, A landlord cannot, therefore, begin an eviction proceeding at the Tribunal. This can only be done in an ordinary court of law.

Evicting a tenant without a court order (for example, changing the locks when the tenant is out) is now a criminal offence and the landlord could face a prison sentence.  It is also an offence for the landlord to cut off water or electricity without a court order, sometimes called a “constructive eviction.”

Trespassing

Trespassers are people who go onto someone else's land, without permission from the owner or the lawful occupier. The Trespass Act gives the police the right to arrest a trespasser. If the court finds you guilty, you can get a fine or a jail sentence. In this way the owner can get you arrested if you are on their land illegally. An owner cannot use the Trespass Act as a way of getting people evicted from their homes – this must go through the PIE Act.

See Problem 2: Being arrested and charged with trespassing.


Problem 1

A landlord applies for a civil eviction order

Cyril has received a summons for his eviction from his property because he is not up to date with his rental payments. He believes this is unfair because the landlord hasn’t fulfilled his own duties in terms of the contract, for example, by fixing the leaking roof. He wants to fight the court action. What should he do?

What does the law say?

  1. Cyril must respond to the summons. If he does not respond to the summons, the court will give the landlord the eviction order. This is called a 'default judgement'. Cyril should see a lawyer immediately or get help from the Justice Centre at the Magistrates Court to help him defend the summons.

See Default judgments.

  1. Cyril and his lawyer must fill in a form called a NOTICE OF INTENTION TO DEFEND which is on the back of the summons. The form must be delivered to the court not later than three days after he received the summons.  Even if a Notice of Intention to Defend was delivered to the court, the landlord could go straight to the court and ask for a quick judgement against Cyril. This is called a 'summary judgement'. To get a summary judgement, the landlord must convince the court that Cyril is a real threat to him and to the property. However, the landlord must send Cyril a notice if he wants to apply for a summary judgement. Then Cyril and his lawyer can write a document and explain that he does have a defence.
  2. Once the Notice of intention to defend is in the process goes through the pleadings stages.

See Summary of steps in a civil claim.

  1. The court will decide who is right in the situation. If the landlord is right, then the court will give an EVICTION ORDER.
  2. But even when the court gives an eviction order, the landlord still cannot force Cyril off the land or out of the house until he sends a document called a WARRANT OF EVICTION which must be stamped by the court and delivered by the Sheriff of the Court.

See Warrant of execution.

  1. The Sheriff can force Cyril and the people living with him off the property, and take his goods out of the house. The Sheriff can get the help of the police to make him go if he refuses. The court can fine him if he does not listen to the Sheriff. The landlord must not help the Sheriff.
  2. If Cyril owes rent money, the landlord can ask the court for an order to ATTACH his things in the house. If the court gives this, it means the Sheriff can take Cyril’s goods away. The Sheriff sells the goods and pays the landlord the money that he owes. The landlord can also bring a special application to the Magistrate’s Court for Cyril’s immovable property to be attached and sold to pay the outstanding debt. The landlord could also ask the court for an order to stop Cyril from selling his goods or taking them away before he has paid the money he owes. This type of order is called an INTERDICT.

See Interdicts.
See PIE.
See ESTA.

In many cases where landlords want to evict their tenants, they will issue the tenants with an application for eviction in terms of the PIE Act. It is very important that the person receiving the application should go to court to file an affidavit stating that they want to defend the application to evict. They should do this with the help of people at a Justice Centre.


Problem 2

Being arrested and charged with trespassing

Dilly has to appear in court on a charge of trespassing. How can she defend herself?

What does the law say?

Trespassing means going onto someone's land without getting permission from the owner or the lawful occupier. The police can arrest a person for trespassing. If the court finds the person guilty of trespass, they can get a fine or a jail sentence.

What can you do?

Dilly was arrested for trespass so she must appear in court on the date given to her. If she believes she had a lawful reason for being on the land, she must explain this and defend herself in court. In other words she can use a defense. These are some of the defenses she could offer the court:

If she has one of these defences, she is not guilty of trespass.


Problem 3

Protecting dismissed farmworkers against eviction

A group of 15 farmworkers was dismissed. They are told to leave the property at the same time as their jobs end. What can they do?

What does the law say?

If farmworkers are dismissed and evicted then there are specific procedures to follow under ESTA as regards the evictions.

See Case-study ESTA.

See Solving disputes under the LRA.

What can you do?

(a) Fairly dismissed workers

In the case of a fair dismissal, the workers would lose their right to live on the farm and they would be given two months notice to leave their homes. However, if the farmworkers refuse to leave, the farmer will have to apply to the court for an eviction order. The farmer must give two months notice of his intention to approach the court for an eviction order. The farmer must also give the municipality and the DOL notice at the same time of his intention to apply for an eviction order. 

 (b) Unfairly dismissed workers

If the farmworkers believe they have been unfairly dismissed, they can refer the case to the CCMA. They can ask a Magistrate to allow them to stay in their houses while the CCMA is hearing the case. If the CCMA decides that the dismissal was fair, the eviction proceedings can go ahead following the normal procedures in terms of the law. Obviously if you have been successful in keeping your job through the CCMA, then it is unlikely that the eviction will go ahead (because there will be no grounds for this).


Problem 4

Protecting labour tenants against losing land

How can labour tenants protect themselves against losing the land? What are the legal rights of labour tenants?

What does the law say?

A labour tenant is someone who pays their 'rent' with labour. In other words they work for the farmer in exchange for using the land for grazing or crops. The biggest problem for labour tenants is when the farmer ends the contract and evicts the tenant.

The Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act protects labour tenants in certain ways. The Land Tenure Security Bill will replace the Land Reform Tenure Act when it is passed. See page,,, Possible repeal of ESTA and the Land Tenure Security Bill

The Act says that:

The land - If you have worked for the farmer for the agreed time, you must be given the same amount of time to live free on the land. The farmer can't give you notice. For example, if you worked for the farmer from January to June, you can stay free on the land from July until December. The farmer can't give you notice in September. The notice period can only start after December, unless you do something seriously wrong.

Evictions – Labour tenants can only be evicted in specific circumstances such as:

In all cases, the farmer must apply directly to the Land Claims Court and not to the Magistrate's Court to evict labour tenants.

Labour tenants must get 14 days notice that the farmer is going to apply for an eviction order. This gives the labour tenants a chance to oppose the eviction in court.

Alternative land - The Land Claims Court can order that a person is given alternative land if they cannot come to an agreement with the farmer about staying on the same land.


Problem 5

Provision of land, housing and services for homeless people

What are the different legal ways for our community to get land, housing and services?

What does the law say?

The Development Facilitation Act says that provincial authorities can make land available where people can settle and have secure tenure immediately. The land settlement grants and housing subsidies from the Government can help to pay for houses and services.

See Land redistribution and land grants.

See Types of housing subsidies.

But the laws alone will not deliver land or housing. Communities must also take the initiative to ensure that they get their rights. For example, in the Grootboom case, the Cape High Court and the Constitutional Court dealt with the obligations of the government regarding the right of access to adequate housing. The Court said the state must provide the children and their parents with shelter until their parents were able to shelter their own children. The bare minimum kind of shelter included tents, portable toilets and a regular supply of water. The Constitutional Court said all spheres of government (national, provincial and local) had a duty to have a plan and a programme in place to care for the needs of homeless people.

The integrated development plan of a local authority must include measures that will help to create housing and must provide for homeless people and those most in need of shelter and housing.

See Integrated Development Plan.

What can you do?

Community organisations can ask for a meeting with the person responsible for housing in the local municipal council. Then they can discuss finding land and setting up services.

Community leaders can also ask to be provided with the local authority’s integrated development plan (IDP) that shows how job creation, housing and services in the area are going to be facilitated.

See Lobbying.


Problem 6

Negotiating to upgrade an informal settlement

The authorities agree that our community can stay on the land where we have settled. How can we improve our area? What are the important things we need to work for or demand?

What can you do?

Community leaders can take political steps rather than legal steps and negotiate a better way to improve an area. The upgrading can take place while the people carry on living in the area. If the community is involved in the improvements, they will have a better chance of getting what they need and want in the area.

A community can make suggestions to authorities about, and organise for:

Loans - Banks seldom lend money for squatter housing improvement, because they think that many people will not be able to pay the money back. The government gives subsidies to families that qualify to help them pay for housing. Communities can organise group savings schemes to save money to add to their subsidies.

See Land redistribution and land grants.

See Types of housing subsidies.

Building materials and advice - Communities can approach demolishers, construction companies and companies that produce building materials, to ask for cheaper stock or second-hand materials. People in the community can also make building materials. Your local authority can assist. Contact the Department of Housing to find out more about the People's Housing Process.

See The People’s Housing Process Establishment Grants.

Investment in public buildings and services - Communities can lobby local authorities and government to build places like community centres and childcare centres. This adds to people's feeling of security in the area


Problem 7

  • Applying for an individual housing subsidy

    Veronica is a single, divorced parent supporting three children. She earns R2 500 per month doing odd domestic duties. She has never received a housing subsidy before and would now like to apply. Will she qualify and how can she apply for a subsidy?

    What does the law say?

    The law says that a person may apply for an individual housing subsidy if they are South African, over 21 years of age and earning less than R3 500 per month. The person must also either be married or single but with dependents, he or she cannot have owned a house or property anywhere in South Africa, and may not have received a housing subsidy in the past.  According to these criteria it seems that Veronica will qualify for an individual housing subsidy.

    What can you do?

    Veronica can apply to the local council housing department for a housing subsidy. She will have to take the following documents with her: her identity document, the birth certificates of her children, her divorce papers and a recent payslip as proof of income. 

    See Individual Housing Subsidy


    Problem 8

    Common problems in renting a house or flat

    What are the common problems tenants have and what can they do about them?

    What does the Law say?

    The Rental Housing Act deals with the relationship between landlords and tenants. If there is a dispute between a landlord and a tenant then either of the parties can refer the complaint to the Rental Housing tribunal. Most problems that tenants and landlords have with each other can now be referred to the Rental Housing Tribunal.

    See Making a complaint to the Rental Housing Tribunal.

     Some examples of these are:

  • See Rental Housing Act.

    Problem 9

    Falling behind on rent or rates and services payments to the local council

    Alida, a single mother of three children, lives in a rented Council house. Her 75 year old disabled mother also lives with them.

    The household survives on Alida's income from occasional casual work, a Child Support Grant for one child who is under 14 years and her mothers state pension. For a long time now, Alida has not been able to keep up with her rent payments and has fallen into arrears of R2 500.

    Alida has received a notice from the Council saying that they are going to take steps to evict her unless she pays all her rental arrears. The Council gives her 30 days to respond.

    What does the law say?

    The Council cannot evict Alida without a court order and the magistrate has to consider all the relevant circumstances of the family before granting an eviction order.

    See Problem 1: A landlord applies for a civil eviction order.

    Under the Municipal Systems Act , every municipality has to draw up and pass a by-law on credit control and managing debts. This should include provisions for arrangements for people who are in arrears, particularly for people who are indigent (living in poverty). It should say what penalties there are for people who default on any of their payments, including the disconnection of services or the eviction of tenants or owners.

    Alida and her family fall into the category regarded as indigent and should therefore be protected by the Council's indigency policy.

    See Providing public housing.

    What can you do?

    You can check whether the Council followed all the proper procedures before sending Alida the 30-day notice of intention to seek eviction. There might have been breaches of the right to administrative justice in the process of administering the arrears payments.

    Then you should check what protection Alida has under the Council's indigency policy. If the Council has not given her protection or has ignored the socio-economic circumstances of her family, you should write a letter saying what the Council has failed to consider in Alida's case and asking them to withdraw the threat of eviction.


    Problem 10

    The hidden costs of buying a house

    There are many extra costs involved in buying a house. The bank where you get a home loan, can help you work out how much these costs will be.

    Costs you pay once

    Some of these costs must all be paid at the beginning of your loan. So you will need to have money put aside for them. It could cost thousands of rands.

    Deposit - You have to pay a deposit, or down payment, of 5% - 20% of the value of the house before any bank will lend you money.

    Valuation fee - The bank will inspect the property to make sure the price you are paying is not too high.

    Transfer duty and stamp duty - These are state taxes you pay.

    Conveyancing fees (transfer costs) and bond registration fees - These cover the legal costs involved in the transfer of the house into your name and registering of a mortgage bond.

    Municipal deposits - These are for water and electricity

    Telephone connections

    Removal costs - The cost someone will charge for moving your goods and furniture

    Costs you pay monthly

    Monthly repayments on the bond

    Insurance on the house - The bank insists that you insure the house against flood, fire or hail damage. The monthly cost of the insurance (the premium) will be added to your monthly bond payments. It is also useful (but not compulsory) to take out insurance on your movable household goods.

    Insurance of owner's life - If you die, the money from the insurance pays off the rest of the bond. This protects the family from losing their home. Banks insist on it because it means they will be paid even if you die. You can also add to the insurance to cover the bond if you should become disabled.

    Rates and taxes (also called site rent) - You pay this every month or every year to the local authority for road upkeep, rubbish collection, community facilities and so on.

    Electricity, telephone and water- these costs can be prepaid and are not necessarily paid every month.


    Problem 11

    Falling behind on bond payments

    What do I do if I fall behind on my house bond repayments?

    Bond repayments

    Banks are very strict about being on time with your repayments. If you have money problems it is a good idea to see if you can change your budget around, or take in lodgers, so that you can still meet your repayments.

    If you can’t do this, you must immediately go and discuss your problems with the bank where you have the bond. Don't wait until you have missed a payment. They will not be so willing to help you then.

    The bank will usually try and work out something to help you. For example, if you had to take a drop in salary, they might let you pay lower payments and pay over a longer time, say 25 years instead of 20. This means the house will cost you more in the long run, but it helps you out now.

    If you miss a payment, the bank will send you a letter of demand. If they do not hear from you and you miss four months' payments in a row, they will take the house away, have it sold and then use the money to cover what you owe them on the bond.


    Problem 12

    Problems with a house you bought

    What can we do about things that are wrong with the house we bought?

    Whose responsibility is it?

    Sometimes things are wrong with a house, for example there is a broken window, the paint peels off the walls, the toilet leaks, there is a big crack in the floor, or a problem with the electricity.

    Who is responsible for fixing the problem depends on whether you have the problem in the first three months or later.

    Contract with a builder

    If you sign a contract with a builder to build a new house for you, you must sign a delivery note when the building is completed. This is a form to say that you are satisfied with the house. Before you sign, you should go through every room and check the walls, doors, windows, plumbing, electricity, painting, ceilings and roof. Only sign the delivery note after the builder has fixed the problems and you are sure there are no more problems.

    The three month guarantee time

    After you sign the form, the builder will give you a three-month guarantee on the house. The duties of the builder are finished when the guarantee period (the three months) is over, except for latent defects. If you have a problem with the builder do not stop paying the instalments on your home loan. Your problem is with the builder, not the bank. It is also important to remember that if the value of defects is less than R7 000 then the purchaser can also go to the Small Claims Court. For bigger problems involving latent defects, people can bring applications in court without the help of a lawyer but this can be a difficult.

    Latent defects

    Sometimes hidden problems only show after three months or later. For example, if the roof collapses in the first few years, it may be the builder's fault. This is a latent defect. Here are some examples of latent defects that are the builder’s fault:


    Problem 13

    Getting money from the Land Bank for farming

    The Land Bank

    Most people who have used up their land grant to buy land, want to know where they can get more money to use for farming.

    The Land Bank lends money to farmers. For poor farmers, the Land Bank will give loans without surety.

    Who can benefit?

    People who qualify for assistance are:

    Different kinds of loans

  • Many different kinds of loans are available:

    Contact the Land Bank, to find out where the nearest Land Bank agent is who can give you advice about loans.


    Checklists

    General Land and Housing

    1. Name and address.
    2. Do you have permission to stay where you are living? From whom?
    3. Do you pay rent to anyone for your home?
    4. Do you pay for any other services?
    5. How long have you been living there?
    6. Where do you work?
    7. How long have you been working in this area?
    8. Do you have family or anyone else living with you?
      Give names and ages, and say where they work.
    9. Do you want to stay in this area permanently?
    10. What is your problem -
      Have you been threatened with eviction?
      If so, when?
      By whom?
      What was your response?
      Has the owner go a court order?
    11. What was the community's response?
    12. Is your house about to be demolished?
      If so, when? By whom?
      Did you get any warning ?
    13. Do you need to apply for legal aid to help pay for the lawyer?

    Paying off a house that you have bought

    1. Name and address.
    2. Are you paying the house off in instalments?
      If so, to which financial institution?
    3. What monthly costs do you have to pay for your house?
    4. Have you ever missed paying an instalment?
      If so, when?
      Why did you miss paying the instalment?
    5. Have you spoken to anyone at the bank about your problem?
      If so, who did you speak to?
      What was their response?

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