South Africa

Have your say on the Human Settlements White Paper

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The front of the South African Parliament building

The government has published its new White Paper for Human Settlements, setting out its policy priorities for the housing sector.

As the official regulator of property practitioners, under the supervision of the Department of Human Settlements, the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA) is seeking the industry’s feedback.

According to the White Paper, there are 4.7 million homes currently being rented in South Africa. Of these, 3.1 million are in the established private rental housing subsector; 500 000 are in the emerging private rental housing subsector (targeted at tenants with lower incomes and often located in previously segregated townships or areas dominated by social housing); and about 560,000 are informal backyard homes. The paper also notes that the share of housing provided by private rentals is rising.

But the Department of Human Settlements concedes there is no dedicated policy governing the private rental housing sector. It identified challenges that will be addressed by such a policy to include delivery of housing stock, affordability of rented homes and rental increases, and maintenance.Solving private rental problems

The White Paper says the government will develop a comprehensive legislative, policy and programme framework to realise rental housing market potential. Furthermore, it plans to:

  • Ensure the availability of a range of rental housing products to ensure equal access;
  • Support delivery agents who focus on providing rental housing for poorer and vulnerable households;
  • Align policies, laws and programmes across subsectors to ensure nationally coherent rental housing policy; and
  • Develop dispute resolution systems for landlords and tenants.

So far, no specific policies have been formulated.

A balancing act for politicians

As PayProp has seen in the United Kingdom, smart policymaking can help shore up standards in the residential rental sector in jurisdictions where private rentals are more heavily regulated.

However, politicians run the risk of deterring much-needed housing investment if they impose high compliance or tax burdens or increase risk for property investors.

Guidance from residential rental sector experts will be crucial if the government wants to avoid these pitfalls.

In view of these important considerations, the PPRA has urged the industry to provide input into any forthcoming policies and regulations in response to the White Paper. Anyone wishing to contribute to the consultation can send their responses to by 28 February 2024.

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