Nadia Burger

What is a deed?

The most common deed is a title deed for your property. When you have no mortgage bond registered over your property, you as the owner of the property should be in possession of the original title deed. An original title deed bears the original signature and seal or stamp of the registrar of deeds on the last page of the deed.

If you bought a property and you financed it by taking a bond from a financial institution, a mortgage bond is registered over the property simultaneously with registration of the property on your name. The bank will keep the original title deed in their possession until you settle your bond in full, similar to when a paid off car is transferred from the bank to your name.

After twenty years of paying off your bond, you finally receive the original title deed back from the bank and you safely put it under your bed for safekeeping. You decide that you are tired of the city life’s hustling and bustling and you are retiring in Wilderness, Western Cape. You sell your property and the transfer attorneys attending to the sale of your property is requesting the original title deed, but it is no longer in the safe place under your bed. What now?

Well, up and until recently, you simply had to depose to an affidavit in front of a commissioner of oaths wherein you had to state that you have lost your original title deed and request the registrar to issue you with a new copy. However, this simple procedure led to many instances of fraud. Fraudsters would depose to an affidavit stating that they have lost the original title deed and the property would be transferred to their names fraudulently without the owner having knowledge thereof.

The implementation of this new procedure would have started on 25 February 2019, but on 20 February 2019 a Chief Registrar’s Circular was issued to suspend the implementation of the amended procedure.

On a date, to be announced, the new process for the issuing of a new deed would entail:

  1. You still have to depose an affidavit to the effect that you have lost your title deed, but your signature has to be attested and authenticated by a Notary Public. A Notary Public is an admitted attorney who passed an additional practical exam. It has been said that a Notary Public has a higher level of expertise and trust than the average attorney.[1]
  2. You have to advertise in the Government Gazette that you intend to apply for a lost copy of the title deed and a copy of the lost deed must be open for inspection at the deeds office for a period of two weeks after publication in the Government Gazette.

The aim of this new process is to curb fraudulent transfers, but ultimately this will have a financial impact on the owner of a property as there is an additional fee payable to a Notary Public to attest to an affidavit. The two week period in which the copy of the title deed must be available for inspection, will cause a delay in the registration process.

Moral of the story? Keep your title deed safe!

  • [1](Elliot.1987. The South African Notary. 6th);

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.