Balancing the rights of creditors and consumers when a home is sold in execution: what procedures should be followed?
Mazubane, Zamanguni Sithabile.
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The sale in execution of theprimary residence of a consumer has numerous implications. This is especially in light of section 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996(‘Constitution’) which gives people the right to adequate housing and to not be arbitrarily evicted from their homes. The enactment of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005(‘NCA’) which aimsto balance the rights of creditors and consumers also impacted the procedure to sell homes in execution. In particular, section 129 of the NCA has pre-enforcement procedures whilst section 130 allows credit agreements to be reinstated if consumers can pay the overdue amounts and other costs in full. In addition, amendments were made tothe Magistrates’Court Rules and the Uniform Rules of Court regarding the sale of consumers’homes.The new requirements introduced by the NCA and procedures introduced by thecourt rules resulted in a great deal of confusion with different courts and judges adopting different approaches. Eventually, several matters which sought to sell consumers’homes in execution were heard in Absa Bank v Mokebe and Related Matters 2018 (6) SA 492 (GJ)(‘Mokebe case’). Van der Linde Jofthe Gauteng Local Division of the High Court, used the power granted in section 14(1)(b) of the Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013 to, in consultation with the Judge President, discontinue the hearing of the matters before him and refer the mattersto the full bench of the Division.In essence, the court held that a uniform approach must be taken by the judges of this Division regarding how they handle foreclosure matters. This thesis investigates the procedure that creditors should follow before they are entitled to sell consumers’ homesin execution. In order to do this, this thesis will examinethe Constitution, NCA, court rules, practice notesand case law. More specifically, the persons that are the focusof the investigation are creditors that have a security right in the form of a mortgage bond over the home,versus consumers who have become overindebted and are no longer able to meet their obligations under the loan agreement that was entered into with the creditors. There cent landmark Mokebe case is examined in depth to determine what the current law is and how it can be improved.Furthermore, the effect of the Mokebe case inother High Court Divisions in the country will be briefly discussed.Lastly, this thesis sets out what consumers can do to prevent their homes being sold on publicauction especially after they default in their payments. This thesis will show that the procedure to sell homes in execution has drastically changed from the pre-constitutional to the current constitutional dispensation. However, it is submitted that the procedures can still be improved upon. This is because the right to adequate housing is an important socio-economic right which has been undervalued and overlooked. The courts have previously allowed execution of homes without considering the circumstances of consumers. The court rules allowed for this as the contractual rights of creditors were held at a higher standard than the socio-economic rights of consumers. It is argued that in the light of the NCA and its aims, there must be an appropriate balancing of the rights of creditors and consumers to create just outcomes. If we are to truly create a society based on ‘human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms’ as expressed in the founding values of South Africa’s Constitution and reiterated to a large extent in the NCA; foreclosure laws must also reflect that vision.