RENTAL WATCH: What are the rights of landlords and tenants

A landlord who allows a prospective tenant to view the dwelling and is then informed by the tenant that he has decided to take occupation or has taken occupation, may prejudice his/her rights. If the tenant has taken occupation and the deposit that was agreed upon was not paid, the landlord would have compromised himself/herself.

The onus rests on the landlord to establish the bona fides (good faith, integrity) of the prospective tenant. After all, the tenant would be given possession of the dwelling; to use and enjoy, and, to have temporary ownership. In reality, the owner or landlord guarantees the tenant the following:

Physical control over the property with all its accessories.

Unhindered possession of the property

Undisturbed use and enjoyment of the property.

In Soffiantini v Mould (1956) 4 All SA 171 (E), the landlord lost his case on appeal to the full bench. The tenant succeeded earlier in the High Court, in interdicting the landlord from entering the premises without consent.

The landlord believed he had unrestricted right of entry to the leased premises. He attempted to have the electricity supply to the lift shut off. He believed that, as the owner of the property and the landlord (of 82 Oxford Street, East London), he had the right to be in the property rented out to his tenant, Maison Centrale Hairdressing Saloon.

He walked into the rented property on five separate instances and even asked the tenant’s customers to leave on one occasion.

Judges Jennett and Wynne agreed with the judgment of Judge President Price that “the landlord is not entitled to enter the leased premises without the consent of the tenant”. In other words, a tenant becomes a temporary owner during the lease period and the landlord’s right is restricted.

As for temporary ownership, can a tenant claim more than the right to “temporary ownership” once the lease period has expired or lawfully terminated? Does a tenant not have a right to security of tenure? Does a tenant have the right to continue to occupy after the lease is cancelled and after the court grants an eviction order? Is a private owner obliged to provide permanent or semi-permanent accommodation to tenants?

A case in point is where the new owner-landlord terminated the leases of 18 tenants of Lowliebenhof, a ten-storey building in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Tenants refused to vacate and the landlord brought an application to have the tenants evicted before the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg. Van der Riet AJ granted eviction orders against nine tenants – two tenants were not evicted since their leases were not properly terminated.

The judge was of the view that evicting the remaining seven tenants would render them homeless. He therefore suspended their evictions for three months so that the City of Johannesburg could be joined as a party to the proceedings, to provide a report as to the steps it would take to provide alternative accommodation.

 

The tenants appealed against the judgment of Van der Riet. The appeal was heard before five judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). This was the case of Maphango and others v Aengus Lifestyle Properties (Pty) Ltd (2011) 3 All SA 535 (SCA). The SCA looked at several issues that included whether a tenant had a claim to security of tenure after the termination of a lease.

The question was if a landlord could increase rentals by cancelling the leases, after the initial fixed period had lapsed. Can a landlord terminate a periodic (monthly) lease that followed a fixed term lease and offer a new lease with a rent increase and different contractual terms?

Is the landlord not precluded by the tacit terms of the agreement?

After discussing the legal principles, rules and several decided cases, the court found the landlord could do so.

The second argument was that terminating the lease for the purposes of a rent increase goes against public policy. The tenants’ contention in this regard was based on three grounds (paragraph 12(b) of the judgment):

(a) That the termination would be unreasonable and unfair;

(b) That it would constitute an infringement of their constitutional right to have access to adequate housing in terms of section 26(1) of the Constitution;

(c) That it constituted an “unfair practice” as contemplated in the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999, read with the Gauteng Unfair Practice Regulations 2001, promulgated under that Act.

Brand J examined the above in terms of the relevant laws and regarding security of tenure. He explained that an owner had an indefinite right to security of tenure in terms of his or her right to possess property. A tenant’s right to security of tenure was linked to the duration of the lease.

“Beyond the period of the lease, the lessee has no security of tenure If the lease is for say 10 years, it goes without saying that the lessee’s security of tenure is for 10 years only. If after 10 years the lessor insists that the lease has been terminated through effluxion of time, no one will suggest that such insistence amounts to an infringement of the lessee’s security of tenure under section 26(1) of the constitution. Perhaps less obvious is the situation where the lease is terminated on notice. But the principle remains the same.

The parties agreed at the outset that the lessee’s tenure can be terminated on notice. What this amounts to, is an agreement that the lessee’s security of tenure will never endure beyond the end of the notice period,” (paragraph 29).

In essence, the court held that a tenant’s right ceases once the lease ends, and termination of the lease is therefore not an infringement of the tenant’s right to security of tenure.

Source: Dr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed 

Radical new housing deal proposed to break apartheid barriers

While over half a million Capetonians live in informal settlements, the Rondebosch Golf Club pays the City of Cape Town only R1 000 a month for the use of 450 000 square metres of well-situated land.

With a full membership costing R15 750 a year, and fees of about R150 to play a round in off-peak times, the golf course is inaccessible to the vast majority of residents, including those who live around it.

The golf club’s lease with the city is contained in a new report on city-owned land by civil society organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, which also states that some of the best land in the city “is being used as a dog play park” for the @Frits Pet Hotel and Daycare Centre, described as the largest of its kind in the world.

The report, City Leases: Cape Town’s Failure to Redistribute Land, proposes a “radical new deal” for housing on 24 areas of city-owned land, including golf courses, bowling greens, country clubs, and parking lots. These range across the breadth of the city, from Camps Bay to Strand to Fish Hoek.

Detailed proposals are provided for five of the areas:

Rondebosch Golf Club
Buitengracht corridor
Harrington Square (parking lot)
Green Point Bowling Green
Fish Hoek Bowling Green.

The Rondebosch golf course is the largest area. Two-thirds of the golf course is above the 100-year floodline, and Ndifuna Ukwazi calculates the land could offer 183 360 square metres of built space for a mainly residential development that includes communal space, offices, shops, schools, and social amenities.

Depending on the mix of social and market-related housing, about 2 500 residential units could be built there, says the report. These would include single stands and mid- to high-density apartment blocks as a mixture of market-related, social and GAP homes (GAP housing is subsidised by the state for people earning R3 500 to R15 000 per month), set in green space along the Black River.

Three scenarios

The authors – Nick Budlender, Julian Sendin and Jared Rossouw – calculated scenarios for Rondebosch golf course in which residential units are built according to a 40% market-related and 60% social housing split (including 20% for GAP housing); a 50-50 split between market and social housing; and a 60-40 split.

The square meterage of individual units in the calculations ranges from 50m² for a market bachelor flat and 30m² bachelor for social housing, while a two-bedroom flat built for the market would be 70m² and one built for social housing would be 45m², which is the average size of an RDP house.

There could also be 116 free-standing homes on 400m² each, and 454 two-bedroom GAP houses of 55m², all set within public and semi-private green space with a promenade along the Black River providing direct pedestrian access to Mowbray.

The 30 separate blocks could each be owned through sectional title schemes and, ideally, would each contain a mix of social and market housing rather than economic differences being divided into separate blocks.

Similar modelling is done for the Harrington Square parking lot, the seven parcels of land which are mostly used as parking lots on lower Buitengracht Street, and for the Green Point Bowling Green, which the report states deputy mayor Ian Neilson has publicly committed for social housing.

For Fish Hoek, which has a density of 884 people per km² while nearby Masiphumelele bursts with a density of more than 40 000 people per km² (2011 data), the proposal is for 171 units built as three-storey walk-ups all dedicated to social housing.

Produced for GroundUp by West Cape News.

Source: MoneyWeb

Are small cities the smartest?

When you hear of urban transformations, you tend to think of high-rise mega-cities like Shanghai, Dubai or Hong Kong. Or if it’s technological advances, San Francisco and Silicon Valley might come to mind.

But, the cities at the forefront of this growing urban revolution are often the unexpected.
Take Kalasatama, a city being built from scratch on the outskirts of Helsinki, Finland. Developers say that by its completion in 2030, residents will get an average hour of their day back by living there.

City residents will never again be stuck behind a rubbish lorry on their commute. Engineers have outfitted the whole city with a vacuum waste system,where people simply take their trash to a port and it gets sucked to an underground disposal center.
Another time-saving design is the city layout itself. Public services, such as schools, hospitals and transportation are close to one another and easily accessible.
“Five more minutes walking in the park, five more minutes with the kids before I have to leave for work, five more minutes earlier at home when I don’t have to spend on logistics,” Kerkko Vanhanen, the program director for Smart Kalasatama, tells CNN.
“Your life is easier because of living in the most functional city in the world,” he adds.
However, only 3,500 people currently live in Kalasatama. By 2030, developers hope to have housed 24,000 people and created 10,000 jobs.

Urbanization

With 68% of humanity expected to live in urban areas by 2050, according to a 2019 UN report, urban expansion and innovation are vital.
This is not a new phenomenon: such transformations have been going on for centuries, from city planning in Mesopotamia 17th-Century canal systems in Amsterdam installed for defense and water management.

But now development is less about infrastructure and more about an interconnected system of devices, known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Cisco defines the IoT as the point in time when more “things or objects” were connected to the Internet than people. It estimates that by 2020 there will be 50 billion ”things”talking to each other.
With the shift to 5G and superfast bandwidth speeds, IoT has the potential to make cities more convenient — enabling technology such as traffic sensors or autonomous drones.

New meets old

Cities don’t have to be custom-built to be able to unlock this potential. The ancient cliffside city of Matera in southern Italy is working to become one of the first 5G-enabled cities in Europe.
It believes 5G can help it become a center of digital tourism, using technology such as Virtual Reality to show off the cultural and artistic heritage of the city that was named European Capital of Culture in 2019.
“There’s been a real focus to rejuvenate this area. And to make it a center first of all of tourism but also to take efforts to make it a place for investment in an industry,” says Jonathan Reichental, an expert on emerging technology trends in urban environments.

Citizen data

High-tech conveniences come at the cost of sharing personal data.
“Data about you is used for delivering all sorts of both public and private services. And people are concerned about what that means to their privacy,” says Reichental.
As smart cities evolve, governments need to gain the trust of citizens to use their private data responsibly, says Udo Kock, deputy mayor of Amsterdam, where an open data program is helping to make it one of Europe’s most innovative environments.
“Don’t think of Smart Cities as just a technology solution, think of it as collaboration. Involve communities, involve citizens and it’s very important for governments to work together with businesses and private citizens,” says Kock.
Source: By Nell Lewis, Carla Howe and Jenny Marc/cnn.com

Should construction companies learn from their in-house data?

The construction industry involves a lot of data, from pre to post-construction. This involves construction data revolving around the planning stages, construction site information, accounting, workflow, job cost management, project management and much more.

However, while a lot of information exists that contractors could use to save time and money, this information remains underutilized because of the lack of the right tools to collect and analyze data in ways that would have significant project results. Fortunately, this is now all about to change.

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How to get the best out of your construction data

Contractors are now discussing and considering different solutions and visiting construction software conferences, with the entire industry  looking for more efficient ways to get smart about data. So what factors are necessary for subcontractors to get involved in construction data analytics technology and software?
A better overview about your project will naturally save you both time and money on current projects. But it will also help in terms of your future projects. Here are some of the major advantages:

  • Contractors can obtain a comprehensive suite of solutions for the entire company, allowing you to control every step of the process. You can imagine how many project movements take place during the day. But you can reduce these moves to a minimum, saving yourself and others a lot of time in the process.
  • All contractors can benefit from data tracking analysis. True data analytics is more than simply tracking down job costs and cash flow. Data analysis can also prevent future problems and risks to your business, as it allows for far more accuracy in future projects with increased efficiencies. Analyzing data results in better plans and predictive analyses, and being on time and in total control over your budget lends you a good reputation, which in turn leads to a higher number of clients. In other words, while
  • data analytics can solve your project tasks and problems on a current project, it will likewise help to make predictive analyses with more and better insight for the same kind of projects in the future.

To take full advantage of data analytics software, you need to understand the right tools for the job as well as your bottleneck.

A construction management software or ERP solution could be essential in order to stream your data across the company.

From project management to accounting, all processes need to be in order. A software solution or internal ERP system can help to communicate with different parts of company units, thereby using collected and stored data more efficiently. From that data analysis, everyone can work with higher success and provide good values for business models. An ERP system and construction data analytics solution can demonstrate hidden values that remained previously unseen.

One important question remains: what can be done with that data and what can be done to improve overall effectiveness, saving your company time and money? This question is being answered by firms who are hiring professionals to get the most out of the business intelligence process.

These new and highly efficient software solutions and tools link all units with different, often complex operations into one integrated system. The solutions provide excellent support, from small building projects to large, with such an innovative approach ushering in a new era for the construction data industry.

Source: oilvoice.com

Japan: Construction sector tries to defy demographics with data

Blue-collar workers can afford to be picky when considering job prospects thanks to Japan’s historically tight labor market. That means few enter construction, where the hours are long and the pay is relatively low.

The Fund for Construction Industry Promotion, a trade association, has a plan to draw more laborers to the business. In April it will roll out a new database that will aggregate workers’ experience and qualifications to help match them with employers. In addition to smoothing out personnel transactions, the system’s creators believe it will lead to better pay and working conditions.

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Construction has been particularly hard-hit by Japan’s labor shortage. Manufacturing, which offers higher pay and shorter working hours, attracts more workers.

The construction sector’s problem will only worsen as Japan’s population ages. A government study projects the country’s workforce to shrink 20% by 2040, and few young people are eager to join the trade.

The new database is expected to help workers employed by low-level subcontractors who are stuck with low pay and few benefits.

These laborers often sign up for temporary, irregular work, making it difficult for other employers to evaluate their expertise. With all of their experience accumulated in one place, companies will be able to actively recruit talented workers at higher pay. Better wages may also help attract younger recruits.

“This system is a great opportunity to get more young workers into the industry,” said Takashi Ueda, who overseas the construction site of an office building in Tokyo.

55 different specialties will be recorded in the system, so if there is a regional shortage of scaffolders, specialists from another area could look for jobs there.

“If we can gather a lot of data, benefits may emerge that we hadn’t even thought of,” said a manager of the database at the trade association.

The system, which is currently operating on a trial basis, has already registered about 17,000 workers. The association hopes to have 1 million registered within the first year of operation, and all of the industry’s roughly 3.3 million workers within 5 years.

Source: asia.nikkei.com

Is virtual reality the future of building construction?

40% of architects and designers say technology will have biggest impact on the  industry in next 18 months.In fact, technology was identified by 40% of research respondents as having the biggest impact on the design process in the next 18 months, followed by a renewed focus on fire safety (28%) and new regulations (23%).

The study surveyed 250 architects and designers across the UK to gauge their opinions on the use of technology in the design process, their use of flame in projects, and the overall challenges faced.

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Three quarters (74%) of architects and designers are already using digital technology to visualise projects during the building process, while a further 20% don’t currently use it but seek to do so in future.

Just more than one-third (34%) believe smart technologies are already influencing the industry, 23% said they believed trends like virtual reality would impact in the next six months, and 24% said augmented reality would make its mark in the next 18 months.

“There’s little doubt that technology is making the lives of architects and interior designers easier. But what the research shows is that technology adoption isn’t slowing down, with respondents placing a strong focus on virtual reality, augmented reality, and other technologies such as robotics, 3D printing and modelling and even the use of drones in the short and longer-term future”

“This focus on technology, and indeed the appetite for it, is reflected in our own business, with a lot of demand for flame technology and flame effects as an alternative to real flame installations.”

The majority of respondents (78%) said they had concerns over including flame in their projects, but 53% noted if safer technology was available, they would reconsider.

Source: pbctoday.co.uk

Just 9.1% of America’s construction workers are women— Report

Sinade Caroll was on her way home from nursing school one evening six years ago when she saw an ad on the New York City subway for Non traditional Employment for Women(NEW), an organization that trains women for careers in construction, utility and maintenance trades.

“I didn’t know that women were construction workers, or that women were actually in these fields where there are mostly men,” the 26-year-old says. “I didn’t experience that growing up and something told me to call the program.”

Caroll had earned her GED in 2011 and was hoping to find work as a medical assistant after nursing school. But she called NEW to learn more, and says she realized immediately that she had found the right career path for her. She quit nursing school and enrolled in the organization’s eight-week apprenticeship program, where she learned everything from how to accurately read a measuring tape to how to lift heavy materials without getting hurt.When her apprenticeship was done, Caroll joined the New York City District Council Carpenters Union and found a full-time, paid job as a construction worker within two weeks. At her current job, she says, her role is “putting up the sheetrock and framing hardware ceilings.”

The construction industry is expected to see 12 percent employment growth between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and as the industry continues to face a worker shortage, many state legislators and professional organizations are doing all they can to bring more women like Caroll into an industry packed with diverse opportunities and the potential to earn strong wages.

Currently, women make up 9.1 percent of the U.S. construction workforce, and earn an average 95.7 percent of what their male counterparts make, according to The National Association of Women in Construction (compared with the average 82 percent  women earn of what their male counterparts make across industries.)

The average annual salary for construction workers in the U.S. in 2017 was $38,890 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), though pay varies based on experience, job title and location. U.S. News & World Report found that in other construction roles, including structural iron and steel workers and construction managers, average salaries climbed as high as $101,000.

Of the women currently employed in the construction industry, 45 percent are in sales and office roles, 31 percent are in professional management roles, 21 percent are in natural resource, construction and maintenance roles, 1.5 percent are in service occupation roles (including cleaning and maintenance jobs) and 1.4 percent are in production, transportation and material moving roles.

Schillivia Baptiste, who owns the construction firm Laland Baptiste, says that as a kid who loved STEM classes, she had no idea that she could find a career in construction as an engineer. Her introduction to the industry came in high school when she attended a summer program at Manhattan College and learned about the different type of jobs you could get with an engineering degree.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from New York University Tandon School of Engineering (formerly the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute). In college, Baptiste interned for the New York State Department of Transportation as a transportation construction inspector and at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey as a traffic engineer. When she graduated, she worked at a private civil engineering firm in Huntington, New York, for 13 years, doing site development work.

“I think there is not enough introduction at the elementary and middle school grade age of what young girls can be,” says Baptiste, who links the industry’s scant female workforce to a lack of early exposure. “I think it starts there, and before you get to high school you’re choosing a high school that has something you want to study and then by the time you get to college you’re able to make a decision and say, ‘OK, this is what I want to do.’”
Bringing more women into the industry

Professional organizations, vocational training programs and lawmakers all have vital roles to play in bringing more women into industries like construction that have historically been predominantly male.

NEW, the workforce development program that helped Carrol launch her career in construction, was founded 1978 and works primarily with low-income women from the five New York City boroughs. Through partnerships with labor unions, contractors and the government, NEW has helped more than 1,300 graduates find stable employment as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, painters and iron-workers since 2005.

In Massachusetts, the state Gaming Commission has been proactive about the opportunity to build gender diversity on new casino construction projects, passing a legislative mandate for casinos to increase workforce diversity. The mandate requires licensees to put women in 6.9 percent of the construction jobs.

“In order to make this work, you have to have a kicka– champion, and you’ve got to kick these doors down,” Steve Crosby, then-chairman of the commission,said.

The commission has been tough about enforcing the mandate. Crosby said that enforcing the mandate hadn’t been easy, but the commission followed a strict protocol to ensure that organizations were complying.

“We go union by union, contractor by contractor — ‘Do you have that? Have you met the target?’” he says. “If you are an outlier — somebody else is doing 8 percent women and you’re doing zero percent women — we call you out.”

Even as CEO of a company she founded, Baptiste says she’s had several encounters where she had to prove herself as a leader at work.

“Graduating as one of five females in my class, it was the beginning of a world where some males only see you as an assistant to someone, or the secretary to someone else,” she says. “It’s always interesting going into a meeting where they are like, ‘Who’s Baptiste?’ and I’m like, ‘It’s me.’”

“I’ve had opportunities where I’ve had to manage males, and you can sense them being uncomfortable with my authority or sense of knowledge,” she explains. “But my goal stays the same, and that is to train them, share that knowledge and help them be able to function in their position and overall on their team.”

Amanda Gray is a national architectural and commercial account manager for The Dow Chemical Company. She says that as an executive in construction, it’s not uncommon for male colleagues to doubt her credibility.

She recalls a time when she was leading a meeting, the only woman in a group of 14 people at a job site. Gray started talking about the technical details for an upcoming project when a male consultant stopped her and asked, “Ma’am do you even know what the cut section of a building is?”

Gray says she started laughing, because he was challenging her knowledge of one of the most basic aspects of construction. “Everyone around us started laughing as well,” she says. “The good thing is, you know, I had built credibility with these people in the past and someone stepped in and said, ‘I can’t believe you would ask her that question.’”

Though these attitudes about women in construction persist in some corners, Gray, Baptiste and Caroll all say that overall, the industry is becoming more diverse and more welcoming to women. In fact, Caroll says that in her experience in the field, she’s seen a 2:1 male-to-female ratio on some of the construction sites where she’s worked — a significant jump from previous years.

Baptiste says that for women who are interested in entering the field today, there are many organizations that can offer them assistance and mentorship. She notes the support she’s received from the national organization Professional Women in Construction. She says she’s been part of the group for several years, and it’s been an important source of industry contacts and potential clients.

“There are a lot of organizations like Professional Women in Construction that provide mentorship, networking and opportunities for growth and business development to women in the industry,” she says. She advises anyone interested in construction to find a local support group to join. ”[These organizations] are not only for you if you’re an owner, but even if you’re just an intern in college, in high school or just starting out in the industry.”

Source: cnbc.com

Uzbekistan Introduce New Reforms For Construction Industry

The construction industry in Uzbekistan is undergoing significant changes following the enactment of Presidential Decree from November 14, 2018 No. UP – 55771 (“Decree”). The Decree introduces new procedures for project appraisal, construction and commissioning processes, and covers issues concerning licenses, certification, land allocation, tax benefits and modification principles of current norms. Some changes have been in force since December 1, 2018. Others will take effect in the nearest future.

Allocation of land

From January 1, 2019, expenses incurred as a result of tardy or undue allocation of land for construction are subject to reimbursement at the expense of local budgets, with subsequent recovery from the person responsible in recourse. Such responsible parties are relevant khokims (heads of local municipality offices). Their personal responsibility is being introduced for the timely and proper allocation of land for construction, as well as for the prevention of construction and installation of objects without reference to the approved master plans for districts (cities) or land allocation schemes (in the absence of master plans). These changes aim to eliminate the cases when objects are demolished and their owners are left with no compensation after the land is regarded as being unlawfully allocated by state organs.

Certification and Licenses

From January 1, 2019, certificates and licenses for engineering and construction activities issued by authorized agencies of member-states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will be recognized in Uzbekistan.

From March 1, 2019, the Association of Consulting Engineers of Uzbekistan (the “Association”) will carry out the certification of specialists in the field of design and construction. For legal entities to render engineering services, they need to have at least two in-house certified engineers in their staff. This requirement does not apply to members of the Association. Moreover, author supervision, technical supervision and construction inspection of buildings will be carried out only by specialists certified in the prescribed manner.

From July 1, 2019, the licensing procedure in the sphere of engineering and construction will exclude the need to sign a license agreement, as an effective mechanism for verifying the compliance of the licensee applicant with the license requirements and conditions prescribed in the law will be formed.

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Tax benefits

After the enactment of the Decree, subcontractors, including foreign ones, and investors fall within the category of entities that are exempted from payment of value added tax on works (services) performed by non-residents (VAT) until January 1, 2021. They are eligible for tax benefits when (i) investors are involved in the implementation of “Business city” projects, including “Tashkent city” project and (ii) subcontractors implement “Business city” projects, including “Tashkent city” project, on EPC basis utilizing “fast-track” method. The Decree expands the existed list of entities enjoying VAT exemption and now, the exhaustive list comprises general contractor, general engineering organization, subcontractors, including foreign subcontractors, and investors

“Fast-track” method

EPC-projects (Engineering Procurement Construction) may be implemented through “fast-track” method since December 1, 2018. This method infers the creation of consortium3 of engineering and construction organizations (where each participant retains its separate legal status) that implements the project by simultaneous engineering, procurement and construction rather than splitting the named processes on subsequent steps. Consortium members share responsibility for the high standard and timely realization of projects. Shared responsibility allows creditors to claim all damages from any consortium member.

BIM technology

From July 1, 2019, the usage of BIM (Building Information Modeling) technology for all participants (customer, engineer, and general contractor/subcontractors) of the construction process will be obligatory. BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

Expert appraisal

Since December 1, 2018, the cost estimates for construction projects involving objects being built at the expense of direct investments or foreign direct investments are no longer subject to mandatory expert appraisal.

Current legislation provides for two types of examination: comprehensive examination and examination of town-planning documentation. Comprehensive one is a more complex examination and mandatory only in particular cases of investment and infrastructure projects, while examination of town-planning documentation is the essential part of all construction projects. The Decree alters the examination process in the part of cost estimates expert appraisal. Now, the source of funding becomes the main criterion when deciding whether to apply expert appraisal of the cost estimates. If the construction is financed by the state budget or through a legal entity that has a state shareholding (centralized investments), then expert appraisal of cost estimates is required. On the other hand, the presence of direct private or foreign direct investments excludes such a requirement.

The comprehensive examination is mandatory to projects financed by direct investments or foreign direct investments when:

  • the project is implemented on the basis of Presidential Decree of Uzbekistan that provides for certain tax benefits without the involvement of international financial institution or foreign state financial organization;
  • the project includes the extraction and/or processing of strategic minerals (precious, non-ferrous, rare and rare earth metals, hydrocarbons, coal, uranium).

As the legislation does not explicitly specify the type of examination that shall adopt altered requirements for cost estimates expert appraisal, the supplementary regulations may clarify this issue. If the new regulation extends the application of these changes to the comprehensive examination, the above-mentioned projects will not be obliged to apply expert appraisal for cost estimates.

Commissioning

Prior to the December 1, 2018, the commissioning procedure was exercised in two steps: firstly, by working committee and then, by the state committee that comprised of a number of representatives. Starting with changes, the two-stage procedure is now transformed into single-step and the number of participants in the state committee has been significantly reduced. Now, the following entities are the only participants of the state commissioning: construction verification inspection under the Ministry of Construction, cadaster authorities, the employer (customer) and general contractor.

The commissioning procedure of objects that are built at the expense of entities involved in public procurement is not subject to these changes.

From January 1, 2020, projects for residential objects must foresee the installation of energy-efficient and energy-saving equipment at the engineering (designing) stage. After the construction is complete and objects are equipped, an energy audit passport must be received prior to the commissioning. In order to acquire an energy audit passport, independent private company providing professional energy audit services must be hired. This requirement is not applied to the buildings certified by international BREEAM4 (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and LEED5 (The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards.

Delegation of Authority

From the beginning of 2019, some powers of the National Agency of Project Management (NAPM) have been transferred to other State authorities:

  • authority for regulating issues concerning the public procurement – to the Ministry of Finance;
  • authority for licensing the activities of the project organizations and for accreditation of individuals performing the examination of construction projects – to the Ministry of Construction;
  • authority for exercising state regulation of the valuation activities and standardization processes concerning property evaluation practice – to the State Competition Committee;
  • authority for implementing comprehensive type of examination – to the Ministry of Economy and Industry.

Further modification of legislation

The Decree also covers issues concerning modification of current norms and standards in the construction industry and stipulates that by 2028 the legislation will be fully changed and modified by the gradual adoption of the foreign experience. Starting from January 1, 2019, the Ministry of Construction initiates development and improvement of building regulatory and technical documents based on the foreign experience. The local and foreign legal entities together with public and international organizations are encouraged to participate in the above mentioned processes. All newly adopted legislation will be published on the official web-site of Uzstandard Agency, which will be responsible for making all construction standards, technical regulations and norms available for public access.

Source: mondaq.com

Vancouver now ranked ‘second-least affordable’ global housing market

The widely reported annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey  has been released – and despite Vancouver’s real estate market slowdown, the city has moved back up in the rankings of the world’s least-affordable housing markets.

Having been ranked in third place for three years running (after Hong Kong and Sydney, Australia), Vancouver has the dubious honour of displacing Sydney to return to second place in the 2019 chart. Hong Kong remains top of the list for the ninth year in a row.

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The report ranks 309 cities in eight countries using a method called the median multiple, which is calculated by comparing the city’s median home price (in 2018’s third quarter) with the median local household income. The countries in the survey are Canada, the U.S., China (Hong Kong only), Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland.

Vancouver is deemed to have a median multiple of 12.6, which is the same as in 2018, and means that the median Vancouver home price is 12.6 times the city’s median household income. Hong Kong’s median multiple is slightly up from last year, now at 20.9, and Sydney’s has dropped to 11.7 from 12.9 last year.

The report authors wrote, “Vancouver has experienced significant housing affordability deterioration among major markets, with its Median Multiple deteriorating from 5.3 to 12.6 [since the first survey in 2004], equivalent to 7.3 years of pre-tax median household income.”

The report acknowledged Vancouver’s recent price slowdown, but said this had not improved affordability, as most of the price drops have been at the high end of the market. “While a British Columbia foreign buyer tax has been associated with a moderation of house prices in Vancouver, reductions have been concentrated in higher cost houses, with middle market housing affordability having continued some deterioration.”

Demographia’s annual survey is extensively reported each year, but has been widely criticized for not being consistent with broad-reported data, only studying cities in eight countries (or nine, in previous years) and failing to take into account a wide range of other variables. The 2019 study does not include pricey housing markets in China, other than Hong Kong, or European markets, other than U.K. and Ireland.

Source: timescolonist.com

 

Survey Reveals Indian Women Take Bigger Home loans

Indian women are borrowing higher amounts for home loans as compared to men. According to a survey by online marketplace for financial products, BankBazaar, the average home loan ticket size with women as primary applicants was Rs 27.57 lakh, as compared to Rs 22.97 lakh with men as primary applicants.

One reason could be that when a woman is the primary applicant, chances of the family being a two-income household are higher, as compared to when the man is the primary applicant. So, in the first case, the family is able to take a bigger loan, said Adhil Shetty, co-founder & CEO, BankBazaar. Another reason is the lower rates offered by banks and housing finance companies for women borrowers, prompting more women to take home loans, he added.

‘BankBazaar Moneymood 2019’, a report based on data from 169 million users who used BankBazaar’s website, also said that the the demand for credit cards was quite high among women.

In 2018, the increase in women consumers applying for various kinds of credit cards was 89% for fuel credit cards. Similarly, women applicants for travel credit cards increased by 73%, as compared to 71.5% men.

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More youngsters want lifestyle credit cards

The demand for lifestyle credit cards has seen tremendous growth, especially among those under 25 years and non-metro applicants. Attractive discounts and deals have fuelled the demand for cards from first-time and non-metro users, the report said. There has been a 64.5% year-on-year increase in lifestyle credit card applications from non-metros and a 53.67% y-o-year increase in lifestyle credit card applications from users under the age of 25.

Fuel credit cards saw a massive spurt in demand, with a 104% rise in card applications from people under 25 years of age. Metros witnessed a 62% y-o-y increase in fuel credit card applications compared with an 85% increase from non-metros. Young indians with wanderlust are aware of the benefits of travel credit cards and an increasing number of people are applying for them. There was a massive 195% growth in travel credit card applications from those under 25 years of age. Non-metros saw a whopping 309% y-o-y rise in travel credit card applications compared to a 59% increase from metro cities, the report said.

Non-metros avail more personal loans

The report also said that demand for unsecured credit in non-metros outpaced that of the metros in 2018, and this trend could continue in 2019 as well. The average personal loan ticket size in non-metros is Rs 2.80 lakh, while it is only Rs 2.55 lakh in metros. However, the highest personal loan ticket size of Rs. 47.23 lakh came from Bangalore, while the highest non-metro personal loan ticket size from Vapi was of Rs. 25 lakh.

“One reason could be that people in metros have better access to credit cards while those in non-metros may not. So, there could be a higher demand for personal loans from non-metros,” Shetty said.

Paperless finance gaining popularity

The report also said that paperless finance is gaining popularity, as incidated by a 198% y-o-y growth in paperless approval of personal loans, an 11% y-o-y increase in paperless approval of credit cards and a 38.3% y-o-y rise in paperless approval of car loans.

In 2018, there was a 42% increase in the highest car loan ticket size compared to the previous year. The average car loan ticket size for metros (Rs 5.72 lakh) marginally outperformed the average car loan ticket size for non-metros (Rs 5.21 lakh), the report said.

Source: dnaindia.com

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