This is a short article to advise on a simple, but the very important principle to understand when buying any property. We will discuss the difference between occupations and possession, and what to consider in each case.
Occupation is when you have physically moved into the property, or received the keys at a handover date. From this date forward you are the occupant of the property, and in most cases consumption such as water and electricity is for your account. You will enjoy all the benefits of the property and its rights.
Possession is when the property has actually become your property. As discussed in Property Buying Tip #5, this is the point where the property has registered in your name and the transfer is complete. The Deeds Office is reflecting you as the rightful owner, and all requirements of the Sales Agreement has been met. You are now liable for all the expenses pertaining to the property.
Occupation before Possession
The important part now is understanding the difference between occupation and possession, and how it affects you. This is where Occupational Rent comes in.
Buying from a Developer
In many cases when you are buying directly from a Developer, the property will not yet be completed at the date of sale (when the Sales Agreement is signed). In these cases, there are 3 dates to consider: The Developer’s completion date of the property, The Purchaser’s desired moving date and the Registration Date.
As discussed in Property Buying Tip #5, determining the exact registration date is nearly impossible due to all the different parties involved and the complicated process at the Deeds Office. There are sometimes delays outside of the Buyer or Seller’s control. So for a Developer to give an exact Registration Date is not feasible, hence the need for an Occupation Date. This is a date set out by the Developer whereby the feel confident the unit will be ready. On this day they will handover keys, and the Purchaser will take occupation of the unit, even if the registration has not yet happened (possession).
The Developer will then charge the Purchaser Occupational Rent until the date of Registration. On the date of Registration, the Purchaser will no longer be liable for Occupational Rent and the repayment of their bond will commence. In normal cases, you shouldn’t be paying occupational rent and bond repayments at the same time.
Buying an existing property
When buying an existing property that doesn’t need to be completed, date of Occupation is more flexible and negotiable. As discussed in Property Buying Tip #7, this will form part of the negotiation in your Offer to Purchase. Some people wish to wait for registration before they take occupation of the property, where others are in need of a place to stay or simply wishes to move in sooner. This will be negotiated between Purchaser & Seller, depending on the needs of both Parties.
If the Purchaser occupies prior to registration, occupational rent as stipulated in the Offer to Purchase would apply.
Important things to Remember
A very important thing to remember when occupying before registration (possession) is that you are living on someone else’s property, very similar to a lease/rental agreement. This means you have to be very careful of any changes, alterations or expenses you incur prior to registration.
If you wish to make alteration/changes (i.e. put in a pool), it would be recommended that you wait until registration. If anything should happen that could compromise the deal, or cause it to be canceled, you will be liable to return the property to the owner in the condition received, and any alteration or additions will remain the property of the owner as in a rental situation.
If there are items that can’t wait for registration, or registration is delayed, ensure that you discuss in writing these changes with the Seller to ensure they agree to it as well as what would happen should the sale be canceled. This will ensure you are covered and don’t end up with a hefty repair bill after already suffering the loss of not successfully concluding the sale of the property.
*Although every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of our calculations, Foce Property Investments and its subsidiaries accept no liability in respect to any errors contained herein. Under no circumstances will Foce Property Investments be liable for any loss or damage arising from these examples