While it is heartening to hear that more and more South Africans are now in a position to buy their own homes, a recent case reported in The Star newspaper highlights how important it is for homeowners to educate themselves about the requirements of owning their own properties.
The story in question revolves around a man who bought a repossessed home three years ago. Despite doing everything in his power to move in, he is unable to do so because the previous owners (who insist that they still own the home), refuse to move out. The new owner diligently makes bond payments of more than R3 000 each month, even though he has been forced to rent a back room while his family continues to live in a shack.
At one stage the Red Ants were called in and managed to remove the previous owner. However, angry residents in the area got involved, promptly booted the new owner out, and reinstated the family that they believe to be the rightful owner.
The report states that, despite the fact that both parties have been to court on numerous occasions, the matter remains unresolved. The previous owner is adamant that he has no outstanding payments due to the bank on the property in question.
While this seems to be a fairly complicated case, what is pretty clear from the report is that this is not the first time that the property has been sold in execution, although there is no trace of the previous buyer. Despite this, the original owners have refused to vacate the home. It seems obvious that something has gone wrong with the account somewhere along the line. However, the original owner either doesn’t understand or simply doesn’t want to understand that the property has been repossessed and sold to another party.
As a rule, banks do not repossess a property without informing the owner. They will also generally go to great lengths to resolve the situation before they attempt to recover some of their money by selling the property.
Fighting the good fight
There are of course several very good reasons for buying a repossessed property, but the above clearly indicates that it can, and sometimes does, end in misery and could involve high legal costs. From the scenario outlined, it would seem that the new owner isn’t only fighting with the previous owner, but also faces a major battle to convince his new neighbours that he is indeed the legal owner of the property.
An eviction is always going to be a contentious issue and when a property is situated in an area where many do not fully understand the laws of home ownership, the situation could rapidly get out of hand.
Education, as always, is the key and any homeowner who is notified that his bond is in arrears should contact his bank immediately. Ignoring the correspondence in the hope that the situation will resolve itself in time is certainly not the answer. Those who wish to keep their homes need to take immediate action to ensure that the problem is addressed to the satisfaction of all concerned in the shortest possible time.