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  • April 2021 | Who Gets the House on Divorce?
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2021-04-01 at 00:00

    Our divorce rate has reportedly surged with all the stresses and strains of the lockdown, and from both a financial and an emotional perspective any married couple contemplating a split (and equally anyone yet to marry), should understand how our law addresses the question of who gets the family house in the event of divorce. We discuss the importance of the marital regime, the practicalities of changing ownership where necessary, the question of what happens to the bond if the house is mort...

  • March 2021 | Buying and Selling Property: Nine Important Questions
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2021-03-01 at 00:00

    Buying and selling property can seem to the layperson like a complex process, fraught with arcane legal terminology and risk. Relax, help is at hand! To ease you into the process in clear and plain language, we ask (and answer) nine common questions asked by both buyers and sellers.  We include a link to a simple but useful Guide from the Law Society of South Africa, with a discussion around why taking legal advice upfront is a no-brainer for both parties, plus we share some thoughts...

  • February 2021 | Arrest and a Criminal Record for Not Wearing a Mask
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2021-02-01 at 00:00

    With media reports of arrest and a criminal record for those caught flouting the laws on wearing a face mask in public, we discuss both the circumstances in which you risk arrest, and the substantial downsides of acquiring a criminal record. Why is a criminal record to be avoided at all costs? How can you get rid of a record if you do end up with one?  We address both questions with a focus on the “admission of guilt fine” option you are likely to be offered after arrest ...

  • January 2021 | Building a Home in 2021: The Dangers of Not Being NHBRC Compliant
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2021-01-01 at 00:00

    2021 and its “work anywhere, live anywhere” new normal could be a great time to build a house – perhaps a new home to live/work in, perhaps a house for investment or holidays. Regardless, both building contractors and their landowning clients need to understand how vital it is to comply with the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act. Is registration of the contractor with the NHBRC (National Home Builders Registration Council) enough? What happens if you fail to comply?...

  • December 2020 | Before You Buy or Sell Property this Festive Season…
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-12-01 at 00:00

    If you are thinking of buying or selling property during the Festive Season (which is again this year showing signs of living up to its reputation as a particularly busy time for the property market) don't neglect the legal aspects. There are many pitfalls awaiting the unwary and rushing into anything without taking proper advice upfront is likely to lead to tears. We list 12 reasons why bringing your attorney into the picture as early as possible in the process is a no-brainer. Use our c...

  • November 2020 | Parking Bay Disputes – Enforcing Complex Rules
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-11-01 at 00:00

    A common source of friction in community schemes is parking spaces. Homeowners Association and Body Corporate rules are aimed at regulating usage of parking areas but what happens when the rules haven’t been enforced? Are they taken to have been waived and therefore unenforceable? And what happens if they are enforced, but only on a selective and discriminatory basis? We investigate those questions in the context of a fight by a HOA to enforce its rules prohibiting homeowners from park...

  • October 2020 | Is Your Will Valid?
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-10-01 at 00:00

    We live in particularly dangerous times, and making sure that our affairs are in order is perhaps even more vital for us all than before. Leaving a will in place is of course the only way to properly protect your loved ones after you are gone. Take steps now to ensure that it will be accepted as valid and that there is as little danger as possible of it being challenged in any way. That’s not as straightforward as it may seem, and there are many pitfalls awaiting the unwary. We disc...

  • September 2020 | Property: Don’t Pay Double Commission!
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-09-01 at 00:00

    Property sellers face enough challenges in these tough times without finding themselves liable to pay two full sets of commission to different estate agencies. As a recent High Court case shows, when multiple agencies market your property and more than one agency engages with the eventual buyer on one level or another, confusion and dispute can all too easily arise over which agency was the “effective cause” of the sale. And our courts may award commission to both agencies &ldquo...

  • August 2020 | Property: Green Shoots, Agent’s Commission and Fidelity Fund Certificates
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-08-01 at 00:00

    If you are thinking of buying property, now might well be the perfect time with the pandemic having pushed down both prices and interest rates.  The other side of the coin of course is that both sellers and estate agents will be looking with hope at the first green shoots of a market recovery, so it’s a good time to remember that an agent’s entitlement to commission is dependent on holding a valid and current fidelity fund certificate.  What happens though if an agen...

  • July 2020 | Electronic Signatures in Property and Other Transactions
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-07-01 at 00:00

    Even when the COVID-19 pandemic finally starts easing off and social distancing is no longer the norm in our business and private lives, we will continue to benefit hugely from being able to enter into contracts and to complete important documents remotely.  It’s important for us all to understand how our laws enable that, to know when electronic documents are accepted as being “in writing” and when “electronic signatures” are allowed and in what form (in b...

  • June 2020 | Lockdown! Nuisance Neighbours and How to Handle Them
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-06-01 at 00:00

    Nuisance neighbours have been with us since the dawn of civilization, and nothing has changed in the modern world. All too often even minor disputes turn into bitter and expensive “neighbours-at-war” litigation. With so many of us now confined to our homes in a time of heightened tension and stress, even the smallest irritations from next door may well be escalating out of control. Let’s look at what you can do about it if that happens to you. What are your legal rights?...

  • May 2020 | Leases, Contracts and COVID-19: What is Force Majeure?
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-05-01 at 00:00

    With many businesses locked into leases but struggling to pay rental as a result of the pandemic and its economic effects, landlords and tenants across the spectrum are wondering what their legal position is with “force majeure” being widely touted as a mechanism for tenants to escape their leases. If it is, a lot of landlords are going to be left high and dry; if it isn’t, many cash-strapped tenants will be staring financial ruin in the face. We discuss what f...

  • April 2020 | COVID-19: Small Businesses, Employment Laws, and Survival Support
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-04-01 at 00:00

    While the COVID-19 outbreak continues, many businesses will have to be creative in finding ways to sustain profitability, particularly now that we are in National Lockdown. And as employers they will of course be facing some novel challenges. Complying with all our employment laws will remain as important as ever, and proper planning on how to achieve that whilst simultaneously protecting your business’s viability will be key to surviving (and hopefully thriving!) in these exceptional ...

  • March 2020 | Running a Business in a Residential Area – Check Your Zoning First!
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-03-01 at 00:00

    If you would like to run a business from home or to buy a residential property specifically to convert it into business premises – or indeed on the other side of the coin if you want to object to a new business opening up in your leafy suburb – you should be aware of a recent High Court decision in which a small 8 am – 4.30 pm office was ordered to stop operating in a residential area.  The Court addressed questions such as “Who can apply for an interdict?”...

  • February 2020 | Does an Expired Lease Automatically Continue Month-to-Month? At What Rental?
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-02-01 at 00:00

    What happens if your fixed-term lease expires without an extension agreement? Is there any lease in place at all? If so what terms and conditions apply? What rental is payable?  We discuss the answers to those questions with reference to the Rental Housing Act and to a recent High Court judgment in which a landlord, in claiming damages from an ex-tenant, relied on a verbal agreement to increase rental after expiry of a written lease. We end off with some thoughts on what your lease s...

  • January 2020 | Before You Start a New Small Business in 2020 …
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-01-01 at 00:00

    Whatever 2020 may bring us in the way of opportunities and challenges, starting a new business will always require careful planning. So if you have any thought of embarking on the exciting venture of becoming an entrepreneur for your own account, make sure to map out a comprehensive plan upfront. We share 9 tips on how to get that planning process underway, with hyperlinks to an online “Entrepreneurial potential self-assessment” quiz, to information sources on crowdfunding, an...

  • December 2019 | Property Sales and Trusts: Demand Proof of Trustee Authority
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-12-01 at 00:00

    Selling property to a trust comes with a particular risk, and it’s one that - although easily avoidable - still seems to catch sellers unawares on a regular basis. Not checking that the trustee/s signing the offer to purchase/deed of sale are fully authorised to do so could leave you with no sale at all. We illustrate the downsides of not checking for trustee authority by discussing a recent Supreme Court of Appeal judgment in which a seller’s R3m claim came to naught, because on...

  • November 2019 | "Seller’s Remorse" and "Subject to Sale of the Buyer’s Property" – Can They Sink the Sale?
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-11-01 at 00:00

    Holiday Season can be an ideal time to buy and sell residential property, and if you are in the market for a house – or about to put yours up for sale – be mindful of the fact that both “seller’s remorse” and sales with suspensive conditions (like “subject to sale of the buyer’s property”) are much more likely now than they have been for some time. So both buyers and sellers need to understand whether it is easy or difficult for a seller to esc...

  • October 2019 | Landlord vs Tenant: When Can You Cut Electricity or Change the Locks?
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-10-01 at 00:00

    Landlord vs tenant disputes can quickly escalate into protracted and expensive litigation, and as a landlord you may be tempted to take the law into your own hands by changing locks, cutting electricity etc. We analyse our law in that regard, explain what a “spoliation order” is and what a tenant must prove to obtain one, and discuss a recent High Court case in which an internet café owner in a shopping centre disputed her landlord’s method of billing for electricity...

  • September 2019 | Your Will: What You Can and Can’t Do
    by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-09-01 at 00:00

    A properly drawn and executed will (your “Last Will and Testament”) is the only way for you to ensure that your loved ones are properly looked after once you are gone.  Perhaps most importantly, only by making your own will can you specify who is to inherit what from you. But is your “Freedom of Testation” limited in any way? Can you disinherit your spouse, or your children? Who chooses who will benefit from your pension and retirement funds?   These...

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