Answer to a question from a reader

My sister was listed as my spouse on my RDP application. It was approved but now that I want to sell the house she wants to claim her share.

The short answer

Even though it was unintentional, listing your sister as a spouse is fraud. You may need legal advice.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

When I applied for RDP housing, I was asked to bring a witness. Because I was not married at the time, I took my sister to be the witness. When I received my house, it listed my sister as my spouse! I did not pay much attention to that and went on with my life. I got married and stayed in the house with my wife and children. My sister also stays with her children and husband somewhere else. 

My wife recently got a transfer to another province. We initially wanted to rent out the house but it got vandalised so we decided to sell it. My sister never had a problem with this and signed all the documents with me and my wife. Now that the money is due to be deposited into my account by the attorneys that helped us to sell the house, my sister is asking for half the money because she was listed as my spouse. I don't know what to do now. Can I remove her from the document? How could I give my sister 50% of my property if I have a wife and children?

The long answer

Although it was not your intention to defraud the municipality when you applied for your RDP house as you thought your sister was signing as a witness, when you got the house and saw that she was registered as your spouse, you went along with this misrepresentation because it had secured you your house. It would certainly be considered fraud to knowingly put your sister down as your spouse in your application. 

This is what the law has to say about misrepresentation:

“Misrepresentation may however take a variety of forms. They may be made by entries in books or records or by conduct or even by silence when there is a duty to speak.” – Thirion J.

I think it must be clear to you that you misrepresented your sister as your spouse in terms of the above. And now that you have sold the house, she wants to cash in. I don’t think it is possible to remove her name as your spouse once you have obtained the house and have sold it, without exposing you both as having engaged in fraudulent behaviour to obtain the house in the first place.

Perhaps your best bet is to seek legal advice.

Here are the contact details for Legal Aid and the Black Sash:

Legal Aid Advice Line (toll-free): 0800 110 110

Please-Call-Me number: 079 835 7179

Email: [email protected]

Black Sash:

Helpline for free paralegal advice: 072 663 3739

Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 19, 2021, 11:45 a.m.

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