Rental Housing Amendment Bill; Social Housing Bill: deliberations

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

HOUSING PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
04 September 2007
RENTAL HOUSING AMENDMENT BILL; SOCIAL HOUSING BILL: DELIBERATIONS

Chairperson:
Ms Z Kota (ANC)

Relevant documents:
Rental Housing Amendment Bill [B30-2007]
Social Housing Amendment Bill [B29-2007]

Audio recording of meeting

SUMMARY
The Department clarified some issues that the Committee had flagged in Clauses 4, 5 and 6 of the Rental Housing Amendment Bill in a previous meeting. The Committee then went through the Social Housing Bill flagging issues of concern.

MINUTES
The Department delegation comprised of Mr Saths Moodley (Special Adviser to the Minister of Housing), Mr Arief Osman (Chief Director), Mr Andre Rossouw (Manager: Western Cape Rental Housing Tribunal), Ms Thabo Gigaba (Ministry Parliamentary Liaison Officer) and Mr Khwezi Ngwenya. State Law Adviser, Ms Bongiwe Lufundo, was also in attendance.

Rental Housing Amendment Bill
Clause 4
Ms Gigaba referred to Clause 4 and stated that the issue in question for the Committee was for provision to be made within the clause for the election of a temporary chairperson and deputy-chairperson at a tribunal meeting in the event that the chair and deputy-chair was unable to attend. There needed to be a temporary measure which allowed tribunal members to elect a person to chair a meeting in the absence of the chairperson or deputy-chairperson.

Mr A Steyn (DA) felt that the clause was not clear. He asked how tribunal members were to elect a deputy-chair when such a function fell within the powers of the MEC.

Ms Lufundo interjected and explained that no substantive change was being made to this power of the MEC. The provisions in the principal act were to stand. There was merely going to be a repositioning of provisions. She noted that it was a technical rather than substantive amendment.

The Chair thanked Ms Lufundo for clearing matters up and asked the Department and the state law advisers to meet in order to sort out the issue. Ms Kota noted that the sooner the issue could be sorted the better.

Mr Steyn stated that the matter should have been dealt with by the Department and the state law advisers prior to the meeting. He felt that there had been adequate time to draft a formulation for the Committee to consider.

Ms Gigaba said that the proposed amendment had come from the Committee not from the Department. Mr Steyn had suggested a proposed amendment in an earlier meeting.

Ms Lufundo said that the Bill was the Committee’s and that a provision could be formulated immediately whilst the meeting was ongoing. There was no need to delay the process by having to come back to the Committee with a formulation.

Ms Kota, on behalf of the Committee, requested the Department and the state law advisers to come up with a formulation.

Mr Steyn asked whether it was possible for the provision relating to the election of a temporary chair and deputy-chair could not be included in the regulations and not in the Bill.

The Chair felt it better to be included in the Bill.

Clause 5
The issue was the lack of enforcement of orders that were granted by housing tribunals. No effect was being given to orders that had been granted by the tribunal. The Chair asked what interaction had the Department had with the Department of Justice on the issue.

Ms Gigaba replied that the two departments had interacted on the issue. The Department of Justice had received feedback from the Magistrates Commission and required more time to consult further with the Justice cluster. Ms Gigaba noted that the Quality Assurance Office was dealing with the matter at present.

Ms Kota added that the Department of Justice had informed the Committee that it was not yet ready to present itself before the Committee. The Chair said that the Department of Justice would most probably be ready for the Committee by September 12.

Mr Steyn stated that the amendment as it stood did not address the issue. He reiterated that tribunal orders were not being implemented and had no effect. He felt that Clauses 5(b) and 5(e) were the same.

Mr Osman noted that Mr Steyn’s observation was correct and proposed the deletion of Clause 5(b).

Ms Lufundo agreed with the proposal and so did the Committee.

Clause 6
The Chair asked what the role of the Committee was in terms of this clause. The clause apparently did not mention the Committee and the role it was to play.

Mr Moodley proposed an amendment to the clause where mention would be made of the Committee and the role it was to play.

The Chair felt strongly that the Committee had a role to play and should be included in the clause.

Mr Steyn referred to Clause 3 and asked why a landlord could be exempted from providing a receipt to a tenant after payment had been received.

Mr Rossouw explained that in instances where landlords were of a corporate nature and had made provision for payments to be made at Pick n Pay etc, tenants often did not receive receipts that contained all the information that should normally be stated on a receipt. In such instances, landlords could make application for exemption from furnishing detailed information on receipts.


Mr Rossouw was concerned about the application process that was provided for landlords in that it would create a huge administrative burden to tribunals. He suggested that the application process be scrapped and that the words, “on application “ be deleted from Clause 3(b).

The Committee agreed to the proposal.

The Chair thanked the Department for clarifying the issues they had flagged in the Bill.

Social Housing Bill
Ms Kota noted that the Bill attempted to legislate the development process of the housing sector.

Mr Steyn asked if the Bill was in line with the amendments to the Housing Act.

Mr Osman responded that the amendments to the Housing Act would affect various pieces of legislation including the Bill.

The Chair proceeded to take the Committee through the Social Housing Bill chapter by chapter and asked members to flag areas of concern.

Chapter 1 Definitions and General Principles applicable to Social Housing
In Clause 1, Ms B Dambuza (ANC) referred to the definition of “lease agreement” and asked that timeframes be mentioned and stipulated. Reference was also made to the definitions of “low to medium income households” and “restructuring zones” and the Department was asked to clarify these definitions. She asked that the criteria for “low to medium income households” be set out.

Ms Dambuza further asked that provision be made in Clause 2’s General Principles Applicable to Social Housing, for the efficient data capturing by all stakeholders.

The Chair agreed that it was a good idea as one needed to keep track of the process.

Chapter 2 Roles and Responsibilities
Various portions of the responsibilities of national, provincial and local government as well as related role players were flagged.

Ms Dambuza referred to Clause 3(1)(e) and said that the type of housing needed to be spelt out. She also asked what the purpose of Clause 3(1)(g) was.

The Chair said that the provisions should be stated clearly and that the problems associated with the N2 Gateway project should not be repeated.

Ms Dambuza referred to Clause 5 dealing with the responsibilities of local government, and stated that a special purpose vehicle was required to fast track land acquisition.

The Chair shared the same sentiments on the need for a special purpose vehicle. Ms Kota stated that land should already be made available for development by the time the Bill was passed.

Ms N Ngele (ANC) referred to Clause 5(c)(1) and asked where municipalities were to get the land for social housing development.

Ms Dambuza referred to Clause 6(1)(a) and asked how interest rates on loans were to be regulated. She felt the issue to be of great importance.

The Chair referred to Clause 6(1)(c) and said that it was confusing and needed to be looked at.

Chapter 3 Social Housing Regulatory Authority
Ms Ngele asked why the Committee had no say in the composition of the Authority, especially the appointment of board members.

The Chair agreed, saying that the Authority was a public entity and therefore Parliament should have a role to play.

Chapter 4 Social Housing Institutions
It was suggested that in Clause 13(3) the word, “business” be deleted and the word “mandate” be inserted.

The Chair felt it a good suggestion as the building of houses by government was not a business but rather a mandate that needed to be fulfilled. Ms Kota added that the criteria for the accreditation of social housing institutions should be clearly defined. Guidelines needed to be set, and timeframes for accreditation outlined. The Chair emphasised that the Bill must be clear on the management of stakeholder responsibilities.

Mr Moodley suggested that the Committee invite the National Finance Housing Corporation for a closed session to explain its business models to the Committee. The explanations would shed light on the issue of interest rates.

The Chair noted the suggestion.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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