I’ve Lost My Title Deed – What Do I Do Now?

I’VE LOST MY TITLE DEED – WHAT DO I DO NOW?

(Revised in March 2020)

After months on the market you have finally sold your house, your purchaser’s bond has been granted and you are ready to start the transfer. Then the Conveyancer asks you for the Title Deed for the property and your heart sinks …. you have no idea where it is.

All is not lost, however, as the Deeds Office Regulations do provide for a mechanism whereby you can apply for the issue to you of a certified copy to replace the lost original – Regulation 68(1).

Regulation 68(1) allows for an owner to apply to the Registrar of Deeds for the issue of a certified copy of his lost Title Deed. The application takes the form of an affidavit signed in front of a Commissioner of Oaths. The affidavit must contain the following information:

  • Details of the deed that is lost;
  • State that it has not been pledged;
  • State that it is not being detained by anyone as security for debt or otherwise;
  • State that it has actually been lost or destroyed;
  • State that it cannot be found though a diligent search has been made; and
  • If known, state the circumstances under which it was lost.
  • If this is not the first time that the Title Deed has been lost and a copy has been issued previously, this must be disclosed and it must state that the previous copy has also been lost.

If the property is bonded, the bond holder must sign a consent confirming that the Title Deed is not in its possession and that it has no objection to a copy being issued.

In an attempt to combat fraud, the legislature has introduced a further requirement which must be met before a certified copy of a Title Deed can be issued, namely that an advert must be published in a local newspaper circulating in the area where the property is situated, giving notice of the intention to apply for a certified copy. The notice is a prescribed form found in the Deed Office Regulations.

Anyone who has an objection to the issue of a certified copy of the Title Deed has a period of 2 weeks from the date of publication of the notice to file their objection with the Registrar at the Deeds Office.

It is possible that there may be additional procedural requirements which must be met before the application for the issue of a certified copy of the Title Deed can be lodged at the Deeds Office. Most Deeds Offices have published internal notices regarding the procedure to be followed at their particular Deeds Office when lodging an application for the issue of a certified copy of a Title Deed.

Once all procedural requirements have been met, the notice has been published and 2 weeks have passed with no objections being filed, the application for the issue of a certified copy of the Title Deed is lodged at the Deeds Office. A copy is printed from the microfilmed/scanned records and an endorsement is placed on the copy stating “Certified a true copy of the registry duplicate in terms of Regulation 68 of Act 47 of 1937 and is issued to take the place of the original”. The issue of the copy is also noted against the Deeds Office data records.

You now have a certified copy that will replace the original lost Title Deed.

Should you later find the original Title Deed that was lost, from the moment the Deeds Office issued a certified copy to replace it, that original is no longer a legally valid document and cannot be used again.

It is important to note that only the owner of the property can apply for the issue of a certified copy. In the case of a property owned by a juristic entity, the application would have to be authorized by the members of the CC, directors of the Company or trustees of the Trust, as the case may be. In the case of an owner who is deceased, only the person appointed by the Master’s Office to act as the Executor in their estate will be able to bring the application, which means that the estate must first be reported and an Executor appointed before any dealings with the property and the Title Deed thereto can take place.

Even though the Deeds Office Regulations provide for the above mechanism to allow owners to obtain copies of their lost Title Deed, a Title Deed is a valuable legal document and owners are encouraged to take proper care in ensuring its safekeeping.

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10 thoughts on “I’ve Lost My Title Deed – What Do I Do Now?”

  1. Good day Natalie
    I am currently sitting with an urgent matter and do not know how to have this matter resolved. there was an house illegal change of ownership on my deceased grandmothers house and now we would like to get the title deed back onto her name as the grandchildren are suppose to have the house sold and split however he person who has the original title deed refuses to give it to us so that the house can be transferred back into my grandmothers name and so that we can have the house sold, are you at all able to advise, Very desperate.

    1. Having spoken to Suzanne, we have advised her to seek assistance from her litigation attorney to obtain an order compelling compliance with the High Court order originally granted in her dispute over the property.

  2. Hi Natalie
    I’m in a predicament…my parents are late. My late father fully paid for his property but he passed away. None of the siblings know where any of his documents are. The Will hasn’t been read out to the siblings. The estate is lying like that for da past 20 years. Not winded and no executor . I want to build an outbuilding in the back of my fathers house as I don’t have a safe place stay. My siblings agreed by signatures that I can build there but the plan drawer needs a title deed. How can I get a copy of the title deed?

    1. Natalie Shephard

      You can’t do anything with the property until the estate is reported to the Master’s Office and an executor is appointed. Only the executor has the legal right to deal with the property. Only the executor will be able to apply for a certified copy of the lost Title Deed.

  3. WHAT DO I DO IF MY CLIENT HANDED IN THE ORIGINAL TITLE DEED BUT THERE WAS A LOST TITLE DEED DONE IN 1995. MUST I ADVERTISE THAT LOST TITLE DEED IS MISSING AND DO REGULATION 68(1)

    1. Natalie Shephard

      Yes, you advertise that both the original and the previous copy are now lost. The original ceased to exist for legal purposes once a certified copy was issued.

    1. Natalie Shephard

      The new process now requires that the advert be placed in a local newspaper and that a period of 2 weeks must pass to allow time for any objections to the application to be lodged. Only after the 2 weeks has passed can you lodge the application as the Deeds Office, where after the normal Deeds Office turn-around-time to register applies.

  4. Hi Natalie.
    I have a commercial property I bought together with the business some 20 years ago as a going concern of which I don’t have a title deed. I took a business loan at the time from the bank. The bank structured the business loan deal whereby the property was used as a collateral. The loan was repaid over the stipulated period. Recently I requested from the bank for the title deeds. But, in order for them to retrieve from their archives, they asked for the banking account details of the property the repayments were made, which they and I cannot find anywhere as it was almost 15 years ago. As per The bank, they have tried their best to find the title deeds but not to be found.
    What do I need to do or the processes to follow to get the copy of title deeds? As I only know the CC names of the property?

    1. Natalie Shephard

      Hi Hamid,
      To cancel your bond, the Bank will need the account number for the bond or the property description – it depends on how they linked the security documents to the loan account and their internal filing system. If the Bank can’t find the Title Deeds anywhere and they are in fact lost, they will usually instruct the bond cancellation attorney to apply for the lost copy, as the cost of obtaining the copy will be carried by the Bank. You will need to liaise directly with the Bank or the attorney they have instructed to cancel your bond to follow the cancellation process which will include the application for a replacement copy.

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