Make sure house is in your name

2015-10-27 06:00

The City of Cape Town has received queries from residents who are not sure whether or not they own the subsidised homes that were handed to them, because they have not collected their title deeds.

Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for human settlements, urges beneficiaries of subsidised homes to find out if their properties are registered in their names and to ensure that they have received their title deeds.

“Our project managers do their best to notify beneficiaries of the status of their individual transfers directly by the City project managers, but also via project steering committees, community meetings, local municipal offices and local councillors, city-wide local housing offices, field workers and house visits, private conveyancing attorneys, awareness campaigns and housing consumer education workshops,” says Van Minnen.

The City gave more than 14 000 properties to beneficiaries in older housing developments in the past three years.

“We need beneficiaries to work with us to ensure that they receive their title deeds,” says Van Minnen.

“Although we make every effort to assist beneficiaries with matters of home ownership, we often hear about cases where beneficiaries are not aware that they are the owners of the homes.

“A beneficiary becomes an owner through registration of the property at the Deeds Office in his name. For this to happen, a sale agreement is entered into between the beneficiary and the City. Following such registration, a title deed is issued by the Registrar of Deeds, formally confirming ownership of the relevant property in the beneficiary’s name.

“From this point, the new owner is responsible for the care and upkeep of the property. This includes paying rates, maintaining the house and property to acceptable levels and making sure the house is comprehensively insured. If your house is not insured and, for instance, is destroyed by a fire, you might lose everything. When it becomes your house, it is not covered by the City’s insurance.

“An owner should make sure that he complies with all relevant laws and bylaws, such as obtaining building permission and controlling noise and pollution. It is also important to ensure that a form of financial planning takes place, such as having a proper will, to ensure the continuity of dependants’ tenure.

“Unfortunately, there are many beneficiaries who have, over the past years, not received transfer of their homes. This is due to many reasons such as beneficiaries who cannot be traced and who refuse or neglect to correspond with the City, unpaid loans by beneficiaries where applicable, and normal conveyancing challenges.

“The eventual issuing of a title deed is the result of a very laborious process – as can be seen in other parts of the country, such as the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro which, according to a written parliamentary reply given by the minister of human settlements earlier this year, has about 50 000 outstanding title deeds.

“We need beneficiaries to work with us to ensure that they receive their title deed,” Van Minnen says.

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