Compiled by:  Selene Brophy
4 May 2020

 ‘No moving rule really one-sided’, say frustrated property owners under Alert level 4

Frustrated people who had expected to move once Lockdown ended are struggling to come to terms with not being able to move during Alert Level 4 – with some facing financial complications as a result. 

During a media briefing on Friday, 1 May 2020, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula confirmed nobody would be allowed to move to a new residence, nor would removal companies be allowed to operate during the travel window period or during the remainder of Alert Level 4 – as restrictions continue to be implemented to stem the spread of the Covid-19.

Mbalula made reference to the Regulations section 16(5) which states, “Any persons who was not at their place of residence, or work before the lockdown period and who could not travel between provinces, metropolitan and district areas during the lockdown, will be permitted, on a once-off basis, to return to their places of residence or work and will be required to stay in such place until the end of Alert Level 4.”

READ:  Can I move? Alert Level 4 rules for tenants and landlords 

Minister Mbalula and the DG provided clarity for tenants – (Watch the full media briefing here):

  • The window of opportunity to travel between provinces, municipal and district areas is 1 – 7 May 2020. 
  • In terms of the Regulations, tenants may not move and the removal sector i.e. furniture removal such as vans are not included in Alert Level 4 (42 minutes into the media briefing video).
  • The DG confirmed that doctors as an example of people starting a new job on 1 May (being an essential worker) or people taking advantage of the window of opportunity to move back to their place of residence between 1 – 7 May may use their private vehicles to move their goods (1 hour 40 minutes into the media briefing). 

In a desperate to move, some tenants have latched on to an idea of a police issued “permit” to move house. Others are just moving, without regard for the law. This is however not a good idea and the permits carry no legal authorisation, says Michelle Dickens, MD of TPN Credit Bureau

“This ‘permit’ is nothing more than an Affidavit signed by the tenant at their local police station on a SAPS Sworn Statement Form,” states Dickens.

“In terms of the Disaster Management Act and the current regulations, the police may only issue permits to travel between provinces for the attendance of funerals,” says Dickens, “SAPS cannot issue such permits and the current regulations do not permit this. SAPS are only authorised to issue permits for travel for funerals between provinces, according to the new regulations.”

Cabinet will determine the severity of the Alert Levels 1-4 and the extent that they apply to each area on an ongoing basis, with moves for change of residence only expected to be allowed on Alert Level 3.

SEE: Alert Level 4 Rules | How it affects Estate Agents and the Real Estate industry

The restriction have however caused a number of concerns for landlords that have rates and taxes, as well as homeowners and tenants who bond and occupational rent to pay. Here’s what some Property24 readers had to say about the restriction:

“If the tenant’s lease expired and they can’t move out? Who gets paid the rent?” questions John Bayley.  

Pleasure Ntsime, asked why people cannot be allowed to have “seven days to move just like they have granted the provincial move”, as a possible work around solution.

“This is so frustrating, there are so many factors to consider. Many people have lost this jobs and can no longer afford rent. People have bought houses they were due to move into now they have to pay bound and rent. Leases have expired and people need to downgrade to cheap accommodation due to affordability.

“The problem now is that rent is due today so it would be ideal to grant it end of May as rent is already paid for May and I doubt owners would refund,” says Ntsime. 

Lungile Mini Macala says she has been left without rental income for her property, placing her at financial risk. 

“My property has been vacant from March, got a tenant to move end March but now she didn’t move due to lockdown and never paid. I have prospective tenants that are ready to pay and move in. The bond needs to be paid, municipal account is rising and I have no money to pay.”

‘Ruling one sided’

Karen Johnny Vorster feels the “ruling is one sided”. ” It favours the tenant. Our house rental is our pension. Tenants using services, and don’t need to pay and we can’t eat because of no rental income!” 

Others are advocating that there is more control in the process of taking occupation of a new premises. 

Macala says, “Property agents can perform these services maintaining social distancing, I really don’t see how it poses a risk. If people are queueing at the shops today that’s even a bigger threat to the population.” 

‘The whole thing is a mess’

Varina van den Hoek says she is “unable to afford occupation rental through no fault of her own”. 

“We are having to leave our furniture as no removal companies are allowed to operate. But we are moving to the new house with no furniture. The whole thing is a mess,” states Van den Hoek. 

Stefanie Minnaar says her son has been unable to move since March, “It’s just totally ridiculous. The knock on effect is insane. Everyone loses. Why can’t people move?” 

Another reader Talisha Grobler says she is also having to pay a monthly fee, even though she is not living there yet. “I had to move on the 28th of March. My contract said that I had to start paying a monthly fee from the 1st of April. The lockdown came and I was forced to stay where I am. Is it fair that I have to pay that monthly fee in full even though I do not live there yet?” 

Property has put out requests for comment and advice and is awaiting a response from property industry experts. This is a developing story – more to follow.

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