Previous articles have been published by us advising on the impact of COVID-19 and the national lockdown on our daily lives, including that on business and legal practitioners. This article focuses on  how the lockdown will affect property transactions as well as the administration of estates.

Property transactions

All transfers of property and bond registrations, among other things that take place at the Deeds Office, are effectively on hold until the lockdown has been lifted:

  • As of Friday, 27 March 2020, the Deeds Office closed until further notice. For a property to be transferred or a bond to be registered, that transaction must go through the 3 levels of examination at the Deeds Office before registration can take place.
  • The issuing of rates clearance certificates from the municipality and transfer duty certificates by SARS, which are necessary for the transfer of all properties, are not deemed to be essential services. There are therefore also on hold.
  • For the transfer of all properties, legislation requires that compliance certificates (electrical, beetle, plumbing and gas) are required to be issued. Again, these are not deemed to be essential services and the businesses that would see to these certificates are closed.

The above will have a profound, but as yet not totally understood, impact on property transactions that are in their varying stages. A sale agreement is a contract that will now be indefinitely put on hold. Once we have a clearer picture of when the lockdown will come to an end, we will be able to re-work timeframes and enter into addendums to sale agreements and proceed with the matters.  For transactions that have already received their rates clearance certificates, which do expire after a certain time period, we await guidance as to how lock down will affect these. It is possible that we will need to apply for new certificates or, potentially, they will be frozen from date of lockdown until lockdown ends. As soon as we receive any news in this regard, we will advise you.

In the interim, at Dingley Marshall Inc, we are continuing to proceed with the transactions as far as is possible while in lockdown. In this regard, we are always available for your questions and to proffer our advice.

Administration of Estates

On 1 April 2020, the Legal Practice Council sent out the latest notice that serves as an Amendment to section 10 of the gazetted regulations under the Disaster Management Act, 2002.

Section 7 of the notice goes to further explain the duties that will continue to be carried out by the Master’s Office during lockdown:

  1. Services of Offices of the Master

 Only the following services in terms of the Administration of Estates Act will be rendered during the period of lockdown:

 (a) Payments to natural guardians, tutors and curators, or for, and on behalf of, minors and persons under curatorship in the following instances:

(i) Where payments in respect of maintenance and education, which have been approved and payments are made electronically, these payments will continue to be made electronically; and

(ii) only applications for payment, if the quarterly payments have not already been received, for the benefit of child- headed house -holds, orphans and the elderly, will be attended.

(b) Other services in respect of the Administration of Estates Act:

(i) Only documentation required for the burial of a deceased person will be processed; and

(ii) only urgent appointment of curators will be processed.

This unfortunately means that nothing other than the above will take place until lockdown is over. Effectively, the administration of all estates is put on hold until further notice.

If you would like to discuss this further or your particular matter, please contact me.

The COVID-19 crisis, the national disaster and lockdown which has been declared are unprecedented and new regulations are being published daily (see the Government Printing Works published Gazettes). Please feel free to contact us for advice and assistance during these uncertain times.