My family and I are being chased out of our home of over 20 years. What are our rights in this situation?

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What can we do to stop this? (Getty Images)
What can we do to stop this? (Getty Images)

The following question is part of Groundup's Answers to your questions series and comes from a reader facing eviction. 

What can we do to stop the late owner's sister from kicking my mom out of the RDP house she has been living in for over 20 years?

The short answer

Ask the local municipal offices if they can help your mother to acquire title deeds after her 20-year occupation.

The whole question

My mom has been living in an RDP house since I was 2 years old (I'm 26 now). The RDP house was built while she was a backyarder there. Unfortunately, the owner passed away long before the RDP was built.

No one ever came to check on the house until this October. The person who came by claimed to be the sister of the late owner. Now, my family and I are being chased out of our home of over 20 years.

I am unsure whether or not there is a title deed for the house. What are my mother's rights in this situation?

The long answer

Perhaps you should start by finding out if there are title deeds for the house, as only the title deeds give you legal ownership of the house. You can find out by going to your nearest Deeds Office and asking them to search for title deeds for the house.

You would need to give them the erf number (not the street number), the late owner’s full names and ID number if possible. It costs about R14.00 for them to do the search.

If there are no title deeds, you could ask the local municipal offices for any information they have regarding the house and in whose name the municipal bills are, and if they can help your mother to acquire deeds after her 20-year occupation.

It may be possible to ask the High Court to declare your mother the owner through Legal Aid, which is a means-tested organisation that assists people who cannot afford a lawyer.

These are their contact details:

  • Legal Aid Advice Line (Toll-free): 0800 110 110
  • Please-Call-Me number: 079 835 7179

She could also approach the following organisation which provides free lawyers if they think the case is in the public interest:


Johannesburg: 011 339 6080

Cape Town: 087 806 6070/1/2

The following organisations may also be helpful:

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI): (WhatsApp, call or “please-call-me” to 073 226 4648 / 071 301 9676 / 083 720 6600;

Black Sash

For free paralegal advice, email: 072 66 33 73

This is an organisation that specifically offers legal assistance to protect and advance women’s human rights:

The Women’s Legal Centre Trust 

Helpdesk Queries:

Cape Town tel: 021 424 5660

Answered on Dec. 8, 2020, 3 p.m.

Published originally on GroundUp.

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