Heritage Property Ownership

Sep 19, 2018 | All, Industry

It’s Heritage Month and there is nothing quite like the romance, charm and grace of a heritage or historic property.

In South Africa, all structures older than 60 years – including fixtures and fittings – are protected by the National Heritage Resources Act, 25 of 1999. There are various areas in South Africa that include heritage properties. Some people feel Heritage-listed properties provide fascinating windows into the past and that the owners of them are lucky, others are wary of buying into the historic market for a variety of reasons.

It is important to note that Heritage properties are protected by law at national, provincial and local levels. With that in mind, you will need to check with your municipality to establish what applies to the property you have in mind.

What you need to know

As a potential buyer of Heritage property or moving into a proclaimed Heritage suburb, you need to know what you may and may not alter or renovate. Potential buyers should also know what is expected of them as set out by the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999).

According to the Western Cape Government, to comply with the National Heritage Resources Act, anyone who wishes to modify historical structures must apply to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) for permission.

Heritage Western Cape issues a permit, based on the merits of the application and an environmental impact assessment.

This permit takes into account the development planning and zoning regulations of a local authority’s Land Use Ordinance. By ensuring that heritage matters are included in impact assessments for proposed developments, developers are able to identify heritage resources.

Why people buy into historic property

Heritage properties frequently attract higher resale values because they are protected (including the surrounding areas in some cases). People often assume that this prohibits changes to some of the property’s aesthetics, but that’s not always true. In fact, maintaining and modernising older properties is often encouraged.

There are some things owners of heritage properties can’t change, but taking on this project has some great benefits.

With a heritage home, you may be able to apply for grants or loans to help fund its maintenance and upkeep. An example of this is the City of Johannesburg Department of Arts, Culture and Heritage offering a 20% rebate for properties that are declared Heritage sites.

If you own a Heritage property it is unlikely that the area surrounding your house will be re-zoned or developed.

Also, if your property is well looked after, it will retain its appeal and will grow in value with age.

Heritage properties frequently attract higher resale values because they are protected.

Why people decide against historic property

Property owners usually want to do with their property as they please. With a Heritage property, there are more restrictions around the development, including how they can be renovated, designed and what building materials can be used. Complete demolition of the property is not allowed.

Renovating a Heritage property can be expensive. If the property has not been well maintained, you might have to fork out for remedial electrical and plumbing work, replacing roof trusses and other niggles. Make sure you investigate the building thoroughly before offering to purchase.

As mentioned, any structure older than 60 years is protected by the National Heritage Resources Act. This means that any changes to these buildings require approval from the relevant provincial authorities. People wanting to renovate their Heritage property are also required to get approval on their plans from Heritage authorities and their local council. Getting this approval can take time, so factor this into your project plan.

Historic Property Areas in SA

There are various areas and communities of historical significance in South Africa. Conservation bodies have formally lodged an interest in these areas.

The areas identified by the groups as having historical significance include but is not limited to:

  • The colourful Bo-Kaap.
  • Parts of the City Bowl towards the east via the top of Roeland Street, north via De Villiers/Tennant Street, east into Sir Lowry Road up to the Eastern Boulevard/N2 and north up to the harbour.
  • Constantia, the area bounded by Klaasens Road, Constantia Nek and Ou Kaapse Weg as well as several greenbelts.
  • Rondebosch and Newlands bordered on the main road from Klipper to Protea and Upper Paradise Road and Union Avenue and Princess Avenue.
  • Port Elizabeth’s inner-city areas like Central, Korsten and Northend.
  • Grahamstown
  • Sites like Vilakazi Street in Soweto, which has come to be the home of two Nobel Peace Prize winners, former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

A heritage home can be a unique treasure, not only for its cultural importance but also for its unique character, charm and style. If you plan on investing in heritage property make sure that you are fully aware of the potential restrictions that come with the responsibility of protecting this part of our country’s history.

Whether your property is a replica of the past or present, PropertyFox will make sure that the right owner purchases it for their future. Contact us today and our advisory team will take it from there.

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