Types of property ownership in retirement
IOL’s Palesa Tlholoe, wrote the following article in the April 2022 edition of Money Mag. Palesa wrote:
“Retirement villages are governed by the Housing Development Scheme for Retired Persons Act, which imposes certain conditions on developers and residents. There are four types of ownership, with some developments based on one type and others offering a choice between two or more types:
- Freehold title
This is essentially the same as owning a freestanding home, with the same rights, expenses and responsibilities, except that, because the home is within a gated community setting, there will be a monthly levy to cover services such as maintenance of the common areas, security, catering and healthcare. Some developments will retain a certain portion of the profits on resale, as a way of subsidising the levies owners pay.
- Sectional title
This is similar to sectional title in a non-retirement development, where rates, insurance and maintenance of the complex is funded by a monthly levy. The scheme will have a board of trustees and a body corporate, through which all owners have a say in decision-making. As with a freehold title scheme, the developer carries no responsibility for the ongoing maintenance and cost management aspects once the development has been built; the onus falls on the owners or residents to do so.
- Life right
You buy the right to live in a dwelling for your life and that of your spouse – you don’t actually own physical property. There are no legal costs, transfer duties or other taxes payable. You may dispose of your life right or it will be sold on your death, in which case you or your estate will, depending on the contract, receive the purchase price plus a percentage (say, 30%) of the profit. When a life right transfers to a spouse on the death of the firstdying spouse, it does not form part of the firstdying spouse’s estate. Residents, who pay a monthly levy to cover running costs, enjoy similar privileges to those in sectional title homes; the developer, however, remains the sole owner and is responsible for the upkeep of the village.
- Share block.
Under this structure, which is now less common, the complex is registered in the name of a shareblock company, and each unit is allotted a certain number of shares in the company. You purchase shares, which give you the right to use a flat, cottage or townhouse and the complex’s facilities, but you do not own your dwelling. There is typically an AGM at which shareholders elect directors to the board. Directors meet throughout the year to discuss how the property is to be managed. Shareholders pay levies that cover operating costs, including maintenance and insurance. If you decide to sell, you need to sell your shares in the property and cede your rights to occupy the unit.”
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