We are members of the Zambia Property Owners Association (ZAPOA) and today we attended our first AGM.  I must say that I was impressed with what the organisation has achieved in the short period of time since it was incorporated in 2014.  They’ve managed to grow their membership from 4 founding members to 25 members, which include institutions like African Life (one of the largest pension funds), NAPSA (the largest pension fund being the state owned pension fund) and Real Estate Investments Zambia (REIZ) plc (one of the leading property investment management companies) – making a up a significant portion of landlords and property owners.  But what impressed me is how ZAPOA is really interested in growing its membership base of individual owners who maybe only own one property – their home.  They have a strong vision to represent the broad spectrum of property owners.  In addition, they have a number of activities planned for the year to increase their reach outside Lusaka.  We had a property owner who travelled all the way from Eastern Province to attend the AGM, well done to him!  He was a huge encouragement to all of us.

ZAPOA aims to lobby government to make the property buying process easier and cheaper.  To this end, they were one of the organisations that lobbied vigorously to reduce the property transfer tax (PTT) down from 10% to 5%.  When someone sells property, they have to pay a transfer tax based on the value of the property.  Set at a high 10%, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) saw revenue from this source dry up as many sellers held onto their properties or refuse to register a transaction.  Now that it’s back down to 5% sellers feel free to transact properly again.

Even though PTT has come down another problem sellers encounter is ZRA placing a higher value on the property than the selling price.  The tax laws allow ZRA to “assess” the value of the land and in so doing they may place a higher value on the land – meaning the seller has to pay more tax than the amount he is receiving as the purchase price.  ZAPOA wants to engage ZRA and possibly the quantity surveyors board to arrive at fair valuations of prices so neither the seller nor the state loses out.

We ushered in a new Chairman, Mr. Daniel Katongo, and said goodbye to the founding chairman, Mr. Robin Miller, who was applauded for doing a fantastic job in setting up the association.  Mr. Mwila Changala is the new treasurer.  The Association will look to formalise its structures in the year ahead.  That means a functioning secretariat, a website and a social media presence, as well as an aggressive recruitment drive.  I’m looking forward to a great year!

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