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.
Natalie Shephard has extensive knowledge in all aspects of the transfer process; the registration of small sectional title schemes and mortgage bond registrations. Natalie was admitted as a Notary in 2011 and is available to assist clients in the drafting of Antenuptial Contracts and other Notarial work.