17 January 2009

Restriction on purchase and rental of immovable property

Real Estate agents and sellers alike should be aware of the pitfalls involved in selling or letting immovable property to foreigners present in South Africa.

In terms of section 42 of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 (the Act), no one may let or sell or in any other manner make available immovable property to an illegal foreigner. Anyone residing in South Africa without a temporary or permanent residence permit is regarded as an illegal foreigner, and anyone who does not comply with the Act and aids or abets an illegal foreigner, is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to 18 months (section 49(6))

Crucially, the Act provides that, in the event of any criminal proceedings arising from a contravention of these provisions, the accused cannot rely on not knowing the illegal status of the foreigner if it is proved that the accused ought to have had reasonable knowledge of that status.

An agent or seller contracting with a foreigner present in South Africa has a duty to ensure that the person is in possession of one of the permits referred to in the Act, including, but not limited to a:

  • temporary residence permit;
  • visitors permit (which is normally granted for a three month period and is renewable);
  • study permit;
  • business permit;
  • medical treatment permit;
  • relative's permit;
  • work permit;
  • retired person permit; or
  • permanent residence permit.

Estate agents are advised to incorporate validating residence status of purchasers into their pre-sales checklist to limit the risk presented by such transactions.

Carol Wiggett & Ashley Meyer

The information and material published on this website is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

We make every effort to ensure that the content is updated regularly and to offer the most current and accurate information. Please consult one of our lawyers on any specific legal problem or matter.

We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage, whether direct or consequential, which may arise from reliance on the information contained in these pages.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions on the website.

Copyright © 2021 Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. All rights reserved. For permission to reproduce an article or publication, please contact us cliffedekkerhofmeyr@cdhlegal.com