Answer to a question from a reader

Is it possible to get the house that my father sold back?

The short answer

See if there is a title deed for the house and whose name appears on it. You could contact Housing Enquiries for assistance

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My father sold his RDP house even though his children are homeless. The person who bought the house doesn't have the paperwork for it – he only has the proof of purchase. Is it possible for us to get the house back?

The long answer

You should know that RDP houses may not be rented out and may not be sold before the beneficiary has lived in them for eight years. 

Does the fact that there were no papers for the house when your father sold it mean that no title deeds were issued for the house? Title deeds are the only legal proof of ownership.

Perhaps the first thing is to check whether there were ever title deeds issued for the house, and in whose name they are if they were issued. You could ask the municipality if deeds were issued. They should have a record of this, but if they don’t, you would need to go in person to the local Deeds Office and ask the person at the reception desk to do a search for the title deeds. They will only give out this information if you have the full names and/or ID number of the owner of the property, or at least his date of birth. You would also need the correct erf number and township or farm name and number, not the street address. You would have to pay about R14 for them to do this data search which would take about 30 to 60 minutes.

If the title deed was lost or destroyed, they can give you a copy in the form of a computer printout.

You could also ask the municipality to check if your names (the children’s) were listed as dependents in your father’s application for the RDP house. The municipality should have a copy of the application. The government’s stated policy is that RDP houses should remain in the family, meaning that you as the dependents listed in the application should have the right to live in the house until you are old enough to make your own application for a house, and the house can be left to you by your father.

But if no title deeds were issued, the sale was done informally and your father has already accepted the buyer’s money for the house, it will be difficult to dislodge the buyer. The buyer can also bring an application to the high court to ask for a declaratory order that the house be transferred into his name.

You could ask the municipality what you should do, but if they are not helpful, you could contact the Housing Enquiries of the Department of Human Settlements at the toll-free customer service hotline: 0800 146 873 or 012 421 1915

If they are not helpful, you could contact the provincial housing MEC on the grounds that you have not been assisted by the municipality or the Housing Enquiries in the matter.

Government housing assistance contact details:

Housing Enquiries Hotline: 0800 146 873

Gauteng: 011 355 4000

Western Cape: 079 769 1207 (Please Call Me)

Eastern Cape: 043 711 9901/2/3

KwaZulu Natal: 033 392 6400 or 033 3365300

North West: 018 388 5403

Limpopo: 015 284 5000

Northern Cape: 053 830 9422

Free State: 051 405 3883

Mpumalanga: 013 766 6087

If the MEC is also not helpful, you could contact the office of the Human Settlements Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is the official who must assist to resolve disputes involving housing matters. This is the email address:

Finally, you could also contact Legal Aid for advice and assistance:

0800 110 110 (Monday to Friday 7am – 7pm) 

079 835 7179 (Please Call Me)

Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 3, 2021, 11:40 a.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.