What is a title deed and who keeps it?

What is a title deed and who keeps it?

Private Property South Africa
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Simply put, the title deed is a document that proves legal ownership of a property in South Africa.

Title deeds explained

Anyone who purchases a home will need to have the title deed transferred into their name as proof that they own the property. The document acts as proof of ownership in terms of the Deeds Registries Act 47 of 1937, with each property required to have its own separate deed. The document contains all the necessary details and important information about the property such as a comprehensive description and exact size.

Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that the Title Deed also provides vital insight into to a properties history, registered owner and previous owners, the purchase price paid by the current owner and some other information elements such as the rules and restrictions surrounding the property. “By reading the Title Deed on a property, a prospective buyer will also know if there are any conditions applicable to the zoning, use or sale of the land, along with all real rights registered in respect of the property. All of these aspects can have an impact on the value of the property and should be considered. Before signing any Offer to Purchase on a home, buyers should carefully read through the Title Deed to ensure that they are fully aware of all the details pertaining to the property,” adds Goslett.

When do you receive the title deed to your home?

The owner of an immovable property will only receive the original Title Deed once they have paid off the home in full. However, if there is a bond registered on the property, the bank keeps the Title Deed in their custody until the home loan is paid off. “If the purchase of a home was financed by a bank, they are legally entitled to keep the Title Deed because it is their money that bought the home and they have a vested interest in the property,” says Goslett.

He notes that while the bank that holds the bond over the property will have the original Title Deed in their possession, the homeowner or agent marketing the home should have a copy that the buyer can read through. Alternatively, buyers can access the information directly by obtaining a copy from the Deeds Office. There are several Deeds Offices throughout the country, each handling a particular area of jurisdiction. A copy of each Title Deed is held in a Deeds Registry at the Deeds Office within the closest proximity to where the property is located. The Deeds Registry is open to any member of the public who requires access to information. However, each enquiry will come at a nominal cost.

Goslett says that most real estate professionals will have access to deeds information through a computer-linked facility at their office called Deedsweb, which is the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s official site for the supply of deeds registration information. Every Deeds Registry is connected to the network which contains all Title Deeds registered from 1980.

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