Housing Consumers Protection Measures Amendment Bill [B6A-2007]: briefing by Department of housing

NCOP Public Services

19 June 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
20 June 2007
HOUSING CONSUMERS PROTECTION MEASURES AMENDMENT BILL [B6A-2007]: BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING

Chairperson:
Mr R Tau (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Housing Consumers Protection Measures Amendment Bill [B6B-2007]
Housing Consumers Protection Measures Amendment Bill [B6A-2007]
Housing Consumers Protection Measures Amendment Bill [B6-2007]

Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act, 95 of 1998
Department of Housing: Introducing Housing Consumers Protection Measures Amendment Bill

Audio Recording of the Meeting

SUMMARY
The Committee expressed strong displeasure at the lack of attendance by a full delegation from the Department of Housing at the meeting. The Senior State Law Advisor, the sole delegate present, was asked to give a brief indication of the content of the Bill, to convey the Committee's dissatisfaction to the Department, and to indicate that both the Department and the National Home Builders Registration Council must attend a further meeting to brief the Committee in full.

The Legal Advisor tabled the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Amendment Bill and indicated that there had been a consultative process followed by the Department, but most of the changes to the Bill had emanated from the Portfolio Committee on Housing. The Bill was intended to revise problematic issues of interpretation and implementation since the Act had been promulgated. The definition of owner builder was to be clarified and late enrolments of houses with the National Home Builders Registration Council were provided for. The role of the Registration Council was clarified. Conveyancers were now included in the process. Roof leaks were not provided for in the original Act and were now included in the Bill. The list of contraventions and sanctions had been extended.

The Department would return at a later stage for a full briefing and discussion of the Bill.

MINUTES

Housing Consumers Protection Bill: Informal introduction by Department of Housing
The Chairperson noted that there was one delegate from the Department of Housing. The Director General of the Department was not present. He indicated his disapproval of the way the meeting had been planned. He hoped that the failure to attend had been as the result of a genuine error, and was not intentional disrespect to the Committee. He advised the delegate that he must convey the Committee's displeasure at the non attendance of other members to the Department. The Committee would regard this as an informal  preparation for a future meeting where the Committee would interact with the relevant Departmental officials extensively.

Mr Kwezi Ngwenya, Senior State Law Advisor, Department of Housing introduced himself and apologised for the absence of the Director General, who was on an official visit in Spain, and for the absence of other Departmental officials. He said that he would pass on the message to the Department. 

Discussion
Mr F Adams (ANC, Western Cape) commented that he had expected the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) also to be present as the Bill protected and regulated them.

The Chairperson replied that this was one of the reasons he had asked Mr Ngwenya to relay the message of displeasure to all relevant parties. He added that it had also been brought to his attention that the National Assembly (NA) had not yet finalised the bill, so that as a matter of procedure this Committee could not engage with the Bill at this stage. Once it was finalised by the NA, it would be handed over to the NCOP who would then in turn hand it over to their respective provinces for deliberation before it was adopted and presented to the House.

Mr M Mzizi (IFP, Gauteng) remarked that it was then fruitless to engage with the Bill before the flagged amendments had been finalised.

Rev P Moatshe (ANC, Northern West) asked why the delegation had failed to be present at the meeting.

Mr Ngwenya replied that this was as a result of the misinformation relayed by the parliamentary officer. He had expected the full complement to be present as it had been when the Portfolio Committee was briefed,  and he agreed that most importantly the Council, as the custodian of the Bill, should have attended the meeting. He sincerely apologised for the mistake, and he promised to pass on the message

Rev Moatshe remarked that such behavior undermined the work and status of the Committee. 

Ms M Oliphant (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) commented that since one departmental delegate was present, he should proceed with the briefing and the next time the Committee would engage with the NHBRC

Ms B Dlulane (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked how the Committee could engage in view of the non-attendance of the expected delegation.

Mr Mzizi remarked that his understanding was that the meeting would take the form of an information session where the Committee would be briefed on the Bill, but no discussion would ensue.

Housing Consumers Protection Measures Amendment Bill [B6-2007]: Briefing by Department of Housing (DOH)
Mr Kwezi Ngwenya, Senior State Law Advisor, DOH, informed the Members that the Bill was necessitated by the interpretation and implementation problems encountered with the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act (the Act). There had not been definitions of some concepts such as the National Codes and the Peoples Housing Process (PHP). The Bill sought  to resolve these issues as well as address the issue of the owner builders and the making of an allowance for the late enrolment of such builders and their houses, which was one of the problems that the NHBRC faced after promulgation of the Act.

Clause 7 and clause 14A had been introduced to amend the provisions pertaining to late enrolment, non-declared late enrolment and late enrolment fees.

Clause 10 was a newly inserted provision that allowed the owner builder to apply for exemption.

Clause 17 has been extended to cover roof leaks and to enable the Council, under certain
circumstances, to make payment to the housing consumer in full and final settlement of a claim.

Clause 18(2) details the duty of a conveyancer.

Clause 21 listed the contraventions that amounted to offences.

Clause 22 was being amended by the insertion of clause 29 that dealt with aggrieved persons. In addition, he said that it was suggested by stakeholders that one month was to short for an aggrieved person to launch a grievance process, and this had been extended to 60days. Moreover, it had been agreed that it was not desirable for legislation to specify that the Minister must respond to a grievance in a specified time frame so that the wording of that was to be amended to reflect that the Minister must be given a reasonable time within which to respond.

Mr Ngwenya indicated that full consultation processes had been followed by the Department. The only major objections to the Bill had come from the Portfolio Committee on Housing, and this Committee had suggested certain amendments, which the Department was working on.

There was, as agreed, no discussion on the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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