Agents urged to study Islamic laws relating to property

Estate agents, especially in the Western Cape, should familiarise themselves with Islamic laws relating to property ownership and transactions, says Vivien Marks, regional general manager of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA), in a November 22 press release.

Marks believes this topic is not always well covered in training courses, which traditionally focus on Roman-Dutch legal aspects. The IEA recently hosted an update presentation on the topic and now intends to hold more in the new year.

"Any estate agent who has been through a training course will know the basics of South African marriage laws as they affect property ownership, sale and letting," says Marks. "They know, for instance, the different implications of marriage in or out of community of property. However, Islamic marriage laws, perhaps because they have no statutory basis, do not always receive the same attention. That needs to change."

Marks says that draft legislation to place Islamic marriages on a statutory footing has been prepared by the SA Law Commission, and is expected to be tabled in Parliament next year. If passed, the bill would not only govern future Islamic marriages but validate existing ones and enable them to be registered. An Islamic marriage would be regarded as being out of community of property, without accrual, unless the partners entered into an ante-nuptial contract, which provided for other terms.

Marks points out that Islamic law also affects home loans. "Here too," she says, "estate agents are trained to know about various financial products and to calculate how much a prospective purchaser will be able to borrow to pay for a property, taking interest rates into account. But because of Shari'ah law prescriptions on interest, many home loan packages are unsuitable for Muslim purchasers. So we're excited to learn that one of the major banks has recently introduced specific Islamic financial products, including home loans. This too is something which estate agents need to know about."
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