- It is not possible for 2 people to have VALID title deeds for the same property except if they are JOINT OWNERS and both appear on the 2nd page of an identical deed.
- The seller and purchaser NEVER sign a title deed. This is signed at the Deeds Office by the conveyance and the Registrar of Deeds.
- A copy of a title deed is of as much value as a photocopy of a cheque or banknote.
- Sometimes people wanting a bond on a property which they already own pretend to attorneys that their title deed is lost so that they don’t have to hand it over. The attorney then applies for a duplicate REPLACEMENT original. This receives a number beginning with VA
- Two things to look at are:
i. The existing occupants title deed and make a note of its number which appears on the first page. ‘Deed of Transfer No. T…. /20…’ The 20…. past is the year in which the deed was registered
ii. On the last page of the deed is the exact date on which it was registered
- Do the same with the purchaser’s title deed which should show a later date
- At the top left corner of the purchaser’s title deed (usually this position) you should find the name of the convenyancing firm which registered the transfer into his/her name. Of course, he/she should in any case remember who they were and where they were, as they would have to go there to sign the documents.
- Phone them, briefly explain the problem and what you are trying to do, and ask them to obtain Deeds Office searches on:
i. The occupants title deed number
ii. The purchaser’s title deed number
iii. The occupant’s name
iv. The estate agents name
v. The purchaser’s name
vi. The ERF number as shown on both title deeds (which must be identical)
If number 1, 3 or 5 produces a print-out with a VA…. /20…. then there is a ‘dead deed’ in the possession of the occupant. The issue of a replacement original (VA) results in the ‘lost’ original becoming what is known as a dead deed, i.e. it is null, void and invalid.
- Ask the conveyancer to let you know when they have the print-outs of the Deeds Office searches (most can do the searches themselves as they are linked by a computer to the Deeds Office, so they can have the print-outs at once. Otherwise it may take 2-3 days.)
- When they have the print-outs go to see the conveyancer who can explain the search results to all concerned parties. For the lay person they are not easy to understand. For those who do conveyancing they are crystal clear. The searches will prove beyond any doubt who owns the property.
- The street address never appears on a title deed, and the agents often do not put the ERF number on the offer to purchase. However the conveyance has to obtain a Rates Clearance Certificate in order to register the transfer, and the documents from the Municipality (including your monthly account for rates, electricity, water, etc.) shows both the ERF number and the CORRECT Street address.
- The conveyance may charge a small amount for each Deeds Office search print-out, as they do have to pay for each search themselves.
- Make sure that you obtain copies of all the print-outs. You will now know beyond doubt who is the legal owner of the property and have a case to present to the occupant, or whoever is best to deal with it, (or for eviction).
- Information supplied by Mrs Heather Latigan