Check you have your original title deeds before February 25

Many home owners may not be aware that amendments to Regulation 68 47/1937 of the Deeds Registries Act which were published in January 2019 mean a longer, more onerous – and no doubt more costly – route to follow if they’ve lost the original title deeds to their properties.

A title deed is proof of ownership of the property – registered in your name, and signed and endorsed by the registrar of deeds.

But, points out Lanice Steward, head of training for Pam Golding Properties, if you are selling your property, not being in possession of the title deed could end up delaying the transfer to the new owner.

Says Steward: “If you have paid off your mortgage, or paid cash for your home when you acquired it, you as the owner of the property should be in possession of the original title deed, whereas if you have a mortgage on the property, the bank will hold this document and you may retain a copy.

“In the case of the bond being paid off, then the bank’s attorney would have been required to give you the original title deed to your property. Alternatively, it may be that you may have simply mislaid the original title deed.

“In any event, you still have a window of opportunity to obtain your title deed before the new process kicks in.”

She says you need to check where your title deed is, and if it is not in your possession it is advisable to go to your local deeds office before the deadline, and complete an application requesting a certified title deed.

If you are not near a deeds office, you can ask your local attorney to apply for a new certified title deed on your behalf. This will result in the lost title deed being null and void.

This will avoid the new process, which dictates that over and above the existing application process, your application and affidavit will need to be attested by a notary public, and must be advertised in the Government Gazette. In addition, it must for two weeks be open for inspection by the public at the deeds registry. All of which costs both time and money.

And for buyers, says Steward, if you are acquiring a property and paying cash, ensure the original title deed is sent to you by your transferring attorney. This will be available from the deeds office about three months after the transfer. This will avoid any delays in the registration process, or additional cost when you want to sell. Ensure that your title deed is in a secure place and it is also advisable to keep an additional certified copy of your title deed in a different location.