Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has announced changes to Regulation 68 of the Deeds Registries Act.

According to Melissa Peneda, an associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, regulation 68 sets out the process where an original deed or mortgage bond has become lost or destroyed.

Previously, where a homeowner lost their title deed they could simply make a written application (accompanied with an affidavit) to the Registrar of Deeds to get a new one.

However, the amended rules will make things significantly more complicated and will require people to go through additional steps in the process – which could delay house transfers and could bring up costs.

The new amendments now require that, over and above the existing application process, your application and affidavit will need to be attested by a notary public, must be advertised in the Government Gazette, and must for two weeks be open for inspection by the public at the Deeds Registry.

All of which costs you both time and money.

The exact process is as follows:

  • The affidavit accompanying the application must now be attested by a notary public. A Notary Public is a specialist attorney who typically deals with the authentication of documents. Certain documents are required by law to be ‘notarially executed’, in which case a notary has to draft the document which is then signed and witnessed in the presence of the notary. Notary publics can be found within most larger law firms and conveyancing offices.
  • The notice of intention to apply for a certified copy or the cancellation of a lost bond must be published in an ordinary issue of the Government Gazette;
  • Copies of the deed must be left open for inspection in the deeds registry for a period of two weeks after the date of publication of the notice. During this period any person interested may object to the issuing of the new deed.

“While the purpose behind the new regulations and the details and sequence of the new procedural requirements still need to be clarified, one can be assured that the regulations will bring about a longer administrative process potentially resulting in significant delays to property transactions as well as additional costs,” said Peneda.

In addition to the notarisation and advertising costs of the new application process, it could cause delays that result in other financial implications for parties to related property transactions, she said.

“For example, such delays could trigger penalties or purchase price escalations. There could also be interest implications due to delays in cancelling the seller’s exiting bond finance.”

Act now before the new process kicks in

Property group Pam Golding has advised that home owners get hold of their title deeds before the new process kicks in to avoid it completely.

“If you have paid off your mortgage, or paid cash for your home when you acquired it, you as the owner of the property should be in possession of the original Title Deed – whereas if you have a mortgage on the property, the bank will hold this document and you may retain a copy.

“In the case of the bond being paid off, then the bank’s attorney would have been required to give you the original Title Deed to your property. Alternatively, it may be that you may have simply mislaid the original Title Deed.

“In any event, you still have a window of opportunity to obtain your Title Deed before the new process kicks in.

“What you need to do is check where your Title Deed is, and if it is not in your possession it is advisable to go to your local Deeds Office before the deadline, and complete an application requesting a certified Title Deed.

“If you are not near a Deeds Office, you can ask your local attorney to apply for a new certified Title Deed on your behalf. This will result in the lost Title Deed being null and void,” the group said.

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