Understanding Title Deeds, your questions answered

A Title Deed is the most important document when it comes to owning a property. The Tenure Support Centre helps individuals resolve their title deed challenges, which can be daunting if one does not know where to find help.  

To better understand why it is vitally important to seek assistance, please read through these frequently asked questions below or head to our FAQ page.  

What is a title deed?

  • A legal document that indicates who the registered owner of a property is. 
  • This includes the full names and ID number of the owner or owners, address of the property, marital status, etc. 
  • The record is kept in the Deeds Office. 
  • You always need the original title deed.

How can you tell if a title deed is an original?

  • An original title deed will have the signature of the Registrar of Deeds on the last page. 
  • Only an original document will have an embossed deeds office stamp – if you touch the paper you will feel the surface is slightly raised over the stamp. 
  • It will also have an original date stamp indicating the date on which the transfer was registered in the deeds office. 

Why is it important to keep your title deed safe?

  • You need the original title deed to do anything with the property, for example, if you want to sell the property. 
  • If you lose your original title deed or it gets lost or damaged, you can apply for what is called a VA Copy. 
  • This is different to just getting a print-out of the title deed at the Deeds Office. 
  • You will need a lawyer to help you with this. 
  • There are costs involved. 

What happens if my details on the title deed are incorrect?

  • If your name, ID number or marital status on your title deed are incorrect, this can only be corrected by registration in the Deeds Office by a conveyancer. 
  • You will need to provide various documents (some of which you might need to get from Home Affairs) and sign paperwork to correct the errors. 
  • It is best to correct title deed mistakes as soon as you become aware of them as it can be difficult for your heirs to do so after your death or after a divorce where your ex husband/wife refuses to cooperate. 
  • There are costs involved in rectifying title deed errors but these are fairly minimal.  
  • Get in contact with our client administrator who will guide you through the correction process. 

What are the risks of buying a house and not getting the title deed transferred into your name?

  • Without transfer, you will not have legal ownership of the property. 
  • You may face difficulties in selling or passing the property onto your heirs. 
  • Protect your asset by ensuring proper transfer of the title deed. 

I bought a house and the seller gave me the title deed but my name is not on it, what do I do?

  • A title deed can only be changed through the Deeds Office, and you will need the assistance of a lawyer to do this. 
  • You will need to contact the seller and tell them that you want to change the title deed into your name. 
  • If the seller is deceased, you need to speak to their family and see if they will assist you. 
  • They will need to sign some documents during the process. 

Before buying a house, what should I check?

  • The sellers identity (ask to see a copy of their ID) and ensure they are the registered owner on the title deed
  • If the registered owner is deceased. Ask to see the Letters of Authority issued by the Masters Office and only transact with the properly appointed person on those Letters
  • If there is an outstanding balance owing on the municipal account. Ask the seller to show you a latest municipal account so that you can check
  • If there are any buildings on the property which encroach across boundary lines onto another owner’s property or onto roads or open spaces
  • If the seller has the ORIGINAL title deed. If not, the seller will need to pay the costs of obtaining a new original

What is a municipal rates account?

  • An account sent by the local municipality to property owners for services such as water, sewerage and refuse removal
  • It also includes property rates based on the value of the properties. Low value properties do not pay rates.

Applying for indigent rates relief

  • If you are struggling to pay your municipal account, you may qualify for a rebate on your property rate.
  • This rebate gives you 15 000 litres of free water and 10 500 litres of sewage free every month, as well as free refuse collection and a rebate on rates
  • You may qualify if your monthly household income is R7 500 or less and/or if you are a pensioner or a social grant recipient

The importance of paying

  • As a property owner you are responsible for paying your municipal account
  • If you want to sell your house you will need to have settled any outstanding municipal accounts

I lost my original title deed - what should I do?

  • Firstly, don’t panic. There are steps in place to resolve this issue
  • It is important you replace the title deed with a replacement original. A copy of the title deed is not enough
  • You will need the original title deed to sell your property, if you get married or divorced, or if one of the property owners passes away 
  • Only a conveyancer can apply for a replacement title deed from the deeds office 
  • The conveyancer will charge for advertising costs and deeds office fees of around R1800 
  • Contact our client administrator who will help you through the process and advise you what documents are required

Need help? 

Please WhatsApp the TSC on +27 (65) 041 6832 and we shall assist you.