Answer to a question from a reader

We bought municipal land but don't have a title deed. What can we do?

The short answer

Title deeds are the only legal proof of ownership. Talk to the municipality from which the land was purchased.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My spouse purchased municipal land before RDP houses were built on it. The original owner didn't have a title deed and neither do we. The stand is still under their name. What is the way forward?

The long answer

I think the place to start is with the municipality from which your spouse purchased the municipal land. The municipality would have the record of the sale of land, and what the conditions of this sale were: what rates and taxes were to be paid, whether buildings could be erected, etc.

If she did not buy the land from the municipality but from a private person who did not have title deeds, she would not be the legal owner of the land, even though she paid money for it. Even if she paid the municipal account or rates, this does not prove that she was the legal owner. Title deeds are the only legal proof of ownership.

She could ask the municipality to advise her on what to do. 

She could also ask for information from the Deeds Registry, like who the registered owner of the property is, and what could be done on the property.

She would need to have the full names and ID number, if possible, of the owner or at least his or her date of birth, and the correct erf number or farm name number for the property, when she went to the Deeds Office. She would need to go in person to the Deeds Office. Their phone number is 0800 007 095.

She could also ask for legal advice and assistance from the Legal Resources Centre:

Tel: 011 836 9831


Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 11, 2021, 11:35 a.m.

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