Under Alert Level 4, people can move house, the deeds office will soon reopen, and municipalities will resume functions, including the issuing of clearance certificates and meter reading.

On 7 May 2020 separate directions in terms of the Disaster Management Act relating to Municipal Governance operations and the movement of persons and goods were issued.

Municipal Governance and operations

Municipalities will continue to provide much needed municipal services and revenue collection, provided they comply with all COVID-19 public health regulations. Council and other meetings must be held by using media platforms such as tele- and video conferencing. The provision of critical services includes road and storm water, electricity, municipal health and environmental services, and waste management.

The following revenue generating services must operate:

  • Payment of licenses;
  • Issuing vehicle licenses, renewal of drivers’ licenses and roadworthy certificates;
  • Municipal trading services, such as water and electricity, property rates, refuse removal, rental payments;
  • Issuing of rates clearance certificates;
  • Meter reading.

The new directions, especially relating to meter readings and the issue of rates clearance certificates are key to restoring the registration process when purchasing and selling immovable property in South Africa.

Movement of persons and goods

People may move home under Alert level 4, subject to certain conditions. The directions are limited in that they only apply to those people who entered into new lease agreements before or during the lockdown period or if the transfer of immovable property was registered before the lockdown.

The directions allow a once-off movement of people who are relocating to their new residence. The movement of goods is restricted to household furniture and effects only.

Moves will be permitted between 7 May 2020 and 7 June 2020, provided you have obtained the prescribed permit from the station commander of a police station, indicating the members of the household who are moving and that you are in possession of the relevant lease agreement or transfer documents attesting to the change in place of residence or change of ownership.

Status of deeds offices

The Deeds Office has been identified as an essential service effective 1 May 2020. The office will remain closed till the health measures required to open its doors have been completed. According to the Chief Registrar of Deeds they may open during the week of 11 May 2020 with a third of employees in the office and the balance of their staff on standby. The public, including conveyancers, will only be allowed access subsequently. It cannot happen soon enough, especially for those transactions already in the pipeline.