Answer to a question from a reader

I want to claim my late mother’s RDP house, but my uncle wants to take it. What must I do?

The short answer

You need to find out if a title deed was issued for the house.

The whole question

My mother passed away in 1995 and during that time, several RDP houses were built in the area. Our family was informed that someone with the same surname as my late mother would receive the house, therefore, my uncle inherited it. He later told me that I was the beneficiary, but because I was still young at the time of my mother's passing, he had to step in. He has since passed away, but another uncle of mine wants to claim the house. How can I find out if my name is really on the title deed as the beneficiary?

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking how you can find out if your name is on the title deed as the beneficiary for your late mother’s RDP house.

Firstly, a beneficiary’s name will not appear on the title deeds, but only the name of the legal owner. In this case, it is probably your late uncle’s name, or even possibly your mother’s name.

Perhaps the first thing to find out is if there was a title deed issued for the house. You can find out by going to your nearest Deeds Office and asking them to do a data search for the title deeds. You will have to fill in a form and give your mother’s and your uncle’s full names, ID numbers (or at least their dates of birth), and the erf number of the house, not the street number. You pay about R14 for them to do the search. If there was a title deed issued, you can get a copy of it there.

The other question is whether your uncle left a will naming you as the beneficiary of the house. If he did, you can get the title deed transferred into your name by a lawyer called a conveyancing attorney who will see to it that the Deeds Registrar signs the title deed in your name and a copy will be kept in the Deeds Office. The cost of a conveyancing attorney could be as much as R7 600, so perhaps you could ask the municipality to help you do this as economically as possible.

If your uncle did not leave a will naming you as the beneficiary, the law of Intestate Succession will apply: if there is a surviving wife or wives, the property will be left to her/them, and her/their children. If there is no surviving wife or wives, the children will inherit, followed by more distant relatives.   

The Human Settlements Department wants to keep RDP houses in the family, so if your uncle did not leave a will, the municipal office where your mother applied will have a list of all the dependants that he listed, and you should be on that list.

You should gather all the documents you will need, including the copy of the title deed (if there is one), the death certificates of your mother and uncle, their dates of birth if you don’t have their IDs, and ask that municipality for assistance.     

You could contact the Housing Enquiries of the Department of Human Settlements at the toll-free customer service hotline:

0800 146 873 / 012 421 1915

You could also take all your documents and ask Legal Aid for advice and assistance here:

0800 110 110 (Monday to Friday 7AM - 7PM) 

079 835 7179 (Please Call Me) 

[email protected]

Answered on March 11, 2020, 4:05 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.