Housing Consumer Protection Bill hearings heads to KZN

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements will this weekend hold public hearings into the Housing Consumer Protection Bill in KwaZulu-Natal.

The three-day hearings will start from 3 to 5 June 2022 and are part of the nation-wide public hearings programme conducted by the committee to garner views of the public about the Bill.

Committee Chairperson, Machwene Semenya, said South Africans have faced challenges including houses built on unsuitable land, poor inspection of houses, and the use of unregistered and inadequately trained homebuilders.

At the centre of the Bill is the intention to regulate and streamline processes to ensure protection of consumers within the home building environment.

Semenya said it is hoped that the Bill will ensure the appointment of registered builders who will build quality houses and inevitably ensure extended warranty cover.

“The Bill proposes these protections through the repeal of the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act of 1998 by providing protections for housing consumers, the registration of home builders, the continuance of the home warranty fund and sets out framework to claim against the fund, as well as the continuance of the National Home Builders Registration Council as the National Home Building Regulatory Council.

“The Bill’s main intention is to broadly protect the consumer and ensure that consumers are able to access warranty cover should they need it. Another important pillar of the Bill is its transformative outlook which seeks to improve builders and downstream the consumers [and] this protection is proposed through the Bill’s call for proper training of builders which will promote economic participation,” Semenya said.

Furthermore, a database of registered builders and their grading will assist the sector in understanding the types of builders that are available, and at what level.

The first leg of the hearings in KwaZulu-Natal will be held at eNseleni Community Hall in Richards Bay on Friday, followed by Msunduzi Town Hall, Pietermaritzburg on Saturday.

On Sunday, the committee will conclude its programme in the province with public hearings hosted by eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. The venue is to be confirmed.

The hearings follow public consultations that took place in Gauteng where participants highlighted the importance of the Bill in protecting Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) beneficiaries against unscrupulous constructors who build substandard houses.

The residents in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Soweto expressed their observation that there is a proliferation of building warehouses in the townships and in rural communities that sell poor quality building materials posing a serious risk to consumers.

The residents in Gauteng called for the Bill to regulate against the selling of poor quality building materials especially in poor communities.

The committee invites all individuals and interested organisations to come and make inputs on the Bill, to ensure that the final product is reflective of their will and aspirations.

“Public consultation and participation is a Constitutional requirement which Parliament is obliged to undertake as part of its decision making processes. These hearings are in line with Section 59 (1) of the Constitution, which calls for the public involvement in the legislative making process of the Assembly.

“Also, we are hopeful that as the primary beneficiaries of the protections proposed by the Bill, participants will present qualitative inputs aimed at improving the Bill to ensure that it meets daily challenges,” Semenya said.

Source: South African Government News Agency