Your property, your rights

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Your Property, Your Rights


Important Words & Phrases You Need to Know 

-       Bond: A bond is a loan from a bank to purchase a house or a plot of land (see also Mortgage Loan below).

-        Conveyor or Conveyancer: A lawyer who deals with property (house or plot of land). A conveyor assists people with the legal details of buying or selling property.

-        Draughtsman: A person who drafts technical drawings of houses or extensions to existing houses so a builder knows what is required.

-        Estate agent: A person or business that arranges the selling, buying, renting or management of property.

-        Freehold title: Freehold or full title is the transfer of full ownership rights to a property owner. This includes the building and the land it is built on (see also Title Deed below).

-        Heir: The person or persons to whom you leave your house and belongings when you die (see Will below).

-        Insurance: Insurance on your property is a safety mechanism you buy for a small sum of money each month. If your house burns down, for example, your insurance company will cover much of the cost of replacing what you have lost. You can also purchase insurance for a car or household belongings.

-        Mortgage loan: See Bond above.

-        Permission to Occupy (PTO): A PTO is granted by the government to certain rural and unsurveyed land. A PTO is not a title deed and does not confer ownership. A PTO allows the person given the right to live on a particular plot of land.

-        Title deed: A title deed is a legal document that says you are the owner of a particular plot of land and the buildings on it

-        Will: A will, sometimes called a “last will and testament”, is a document that explains your final wishes to your heirs.  It is read out after your death, and the court makes sure that your final wishes are carried out.














 Your Title Deed

-        A title deed is a legal document that says you are the owner of a particular plot of land and the buildings that have been built on it. 

-        A title deed is issued by the Deeds Registry Office of South Africa.

-        A title deed is a very, very important document – keep it in a safe place. 

-        It is a good idea to make copies of your title deed in case you damage or lose it.

The title deed includes:

-        A description of the property, with its size, boundaries and exact position.

-        The name and identity number of the person or persons who legally own the property.  (It is possible for more than one owner to be listed on a title deed.)

-        The date when the property was last transferred.

-        If bought from another person, the purchase price.

-        Any factors which could restrict the sale of the property, for example, a mortgage loan (bond) with a bank.

-        Any restriction that applies on the sale by you of your property. Study your title deed to make sure that it is a full freehold title and not one that limits your ability to sell the property.

-        An official Deeds Registry Office seal to indicate that the deed has been recorded in the name of the owner and the date.

-        A title deed is not a letter from a councillor, municipality or developer. 

-        A title deed is not a letter from a previous owner. 

-        A title deed is not a document that gives Permission To Occupy (PTO) a site or a property.

Why would you not have the title deed to your house?

-        You have a mortgage or property loan from a bank. (In this case the bank will keep the title deed until you have paid the loan in full.)

-        Your Municipality has not yet issued the title deed to you. (You should enquire at the Municipal offices to see why.)

-        You bought the property informally. (In this case you, together with the seller, should go to a conveyancer and ask him/her to change the name of the previous owner into your name in the Deeds Registry and issue you with a title deed. The conveyancer will charge a fee.)

Your Responsibilities as a Property Owner

-        Paying the municipality for rates and service charges
Rates are used by the municipality to manage the municipal area and provide for facilities such as roads, parks and pavements. Service charges cover the cost of supplying water, electricity, sewage and refuse removal. It is very important to pay these charges so that the municipality has enough money to provide the services.

-        Being a good neighbour
You should be considerate of your neighbours.  For example, do not make a noise, especially at night, and do not block the entrance to their property.

-        Looking after your property
Look after your property by painting it regularly, repairing it when something breaks and doing regular maintenance. 

-        Leaving a will



Your Will

-        A will is a legal document in which you explain how your belongings must be divided among your family or others after your death. 

-        A will is very important: if you die without one, the government will decide who gets your belongings. It is important that family or friends know where your will is kept. You should also keep copies in case the original is lost. These must be clearly marked as copies.

-        If you have a title deed to a property, you can leave your property to anyone you choose, including family members or others. 

-        You can write your will yourself, ask your bank to do it, or ask a lawyer to write it for you.  A lawyer will usually charge a fee.

-        Your will should mention all items that you own that have a high value so that your heirs do not have disagreements after your death.


-        Property insurance is very useful.  For a monthly amount, it will pay for fixing all or part of the damages to your property from fire, storms or robbery.

-        There are many companies from which you can buy insurance.

How to Buy a Property

-        Decide on the amount you can afford to spend and then consult your local estate agent, family and friends.

-        When you have decided which property you wish to purchase, make sure that the seller has freehold title to the property registered at the deeds office. If the seller does not have the title deed, your conveyancer will check that the seller is the registered owner and check who has the title deed.

-        Very important: Do not pay money directly to the seller. The conveyancer handling your purchase will only pay the seller when the property is registered in your name at the deeds office.

Your Home, Your Community


-        Being part of a neighbourhood means that everyone is responsible for general safety and security.

-        Look out for children and the elderly and assist them if they are in trouble. 

-        If you notice any suspicious behaviour or feel worried about any strangers in the area, contact the police.

-        Keep flammable material such as paraffin, petrol, fuel or solvent in a safe place that is away from small children, plugs and matches.

Solving Maintenance Problems

-        Blockages to the drain in the kitchen or bathroom.  These are caused when oil, hot fat, food and hair are poured down the drain. Blocked toilets, which are usually caused when newspaper or items other than toilet paper are flushed down the toilet.

-        Electrical problems and even fires, which are caused by faulty appliance, or too many appliances (such as heaters), which draw current from a wall plug and cause the wires to over-heat and burn.

-        Damp on the walls and peeling of paint caused by poor ventilation or water around the foundations. Open the windows when you are cooking, bathing or showering.

-        Fix leaking roofs and pipes. Make sure water drains away from the property quickly.

How to Improve Your Property

-        It is important to have plans drawn up of any changes you want to make to your house. You can go to a draughtsman to assist you with this. Their rates vary, but some charge around R250.00 per hour. This plan must be approved by the municipality before building starts.

-        Be sure to hire a good builder who will use the correct materials. It is best to have a written contract so that the builder knows what is expected of him. Be sure to supervise the builder at regular intervals.



How Your Home Can Make Money for You

(Make sure that you check with you local municipality on the exact rules and regulations in your area, as these vary around the country)


You can operate a business from your property

You can use your property either to sell goods or services, to make or to store goods.  The advantages of using your property to operate a business are that you will save money as you do not have to pay rent somewhere else.  The disadvantages are that you have to share the space with your family or others.


You can rent out your property as accommodation


There are 5 ways you can buy or improve a property,
or start a business on your property


1.      Savings

This is any money that you and your household have been able to save.  If your savings will not cover the whole cost, you can use it as a deposit for a mortgage loan, or you can buy only the building materials you have money for and build over a period.


2.      Small loans

These are provided by banks. These loans are repaid over a short period (2-5 years). In order to qualify for this type of loan, you need to prove to the bank that you are receiving a regular income by showing them your bank statements and your salary slips. If you are self-employed you will need to provide a bank or savings account statement that shows enough monthly income to pay the instalments.


3.      Mortgage loans

These are provided by banks.  They are usually for large amounts (over R25 000). These loans are repaid over a long period (normally 20 years). You will need to provide your property as security for the loan.  What this means is that a mortgage bond is registered over your property by the bank. In order to qualify for this type of loan you need to show the bank that you are receiving a regular income by showing them your bank statements and salary slips. If you are self-employed you will need to provide a bank or savings account statement that shows enough monthly income to pay the instalments.


4.      A loan from your employer

If you are employed you may be able to access a loan. Many employers offer a range of different loan facilities.  Ask your manager or the human resource department for information.


5.      A loan from a building material supplier

Some of the large material suppliers offer loan facilities. These are similar to small loans but cover the cost of the building materials only.

How to Sell Your Property

-        You can sell your property through an estate agent who will charge you commission, or you can do it yourself. If you use an estate agent you should read the agreement very carefully so you understand the terms and conditions.

-        You must go to a conveyancer (property lawyer) so that they can change your name to the name of the buyer at the Deeds Registry and issue a new title deed to the new owner.

-        You can sell your property to any buyer who has the money to pay for it.



Frequently Asked Questions


1.      You do not have the title deed:

a)      If there is a mortgage loan (bond) over the property, the bank will hold the title deed until you have finished paying for the property. 

b)      The title deed was not issued to you when you occupied or bought the property. 

      If this is the case, you should contact a Deeds Registry office and check that your name is on the deeds register. You should then approach your Local Municipality to enquire where the title deed is.

c)      The property is located in an area where a Township Register has not been opened.

You should talk to the Councillor or Ward Committee for your area and request that the matter be investigated and that your Local Municipality completes the process.

d)      You acquired the property informally.

You should, together with the seller, approach a conveyancer to have the title deed changed into your name.  The conveyancer will charge a fee.


2.      You had the title deed and then lost it.

You need to submit a written request for a certified copy to a Deeds Registry office.

You will need to describe the location of your property and provide a copy of your identity and other documents.  A certified copy has the same value as the original title deed.

3.      You die without leaving a will.

Your possessions (called your estate) will be divided up by the government in terms of the rules that apply to someone who dies without leaving a will.  The state will appoint a lawyer who will divide the estate between your spouse, children, relatives or any others who make a legal claim on it.

What the Constitution Says About Your Title Deed

Your title deed is protected by the Constitution of South Africa. Specifically Clause 25 of our Constitution.


Clause 25 of the Constitution

(1)  No one may be deprived of property except in terms of law of

      general application, and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation

of property.

(2)       Property may be expropriated only in terms of law of general


(a)  for a public purpose or in the public interest; and

(b)  subject to compensation, the amount of which and the time and manner of payment of which have either been

agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a


(3)  The amount of the compensation and the time and manner of

payment must be just and equitable, reflecting an equitable

balance between the public interest and the interests of those

affected, having regard to all relevant circumstances, including

(a)  the current use of the property;

(b)  the history of the acquisition and use of the property;

(c)  the market value of the property

(d) the extent of direct state investment and subsidy in the

acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the

property; and

(e)  the purpose of the expropriation.

(4)  For the purposes of this section—

(a)  the public interest includes the nation's commitment to

land reform, and to reforms to bring about equitable

access to all South Africa's natural resources; and

(b)  property is not limited to land.

(5)       The state must take reasonable legislative and other 
measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which

enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.

(6)  A person or community whose tenure of land is legally

insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or

practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of

Parliament, either to tenure which is legally secure or to compa-

rable redress.

(7)  A person or community dispossessed of property after 19 June

1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is

entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to

restitution of that property or to equitable redress.

(8)       No provision of this section may impede the state from taking

legislative and other measures to achieve land, water and related

reform, in order to redress the results of past racial discrimination,

provided that any departure from the provisions of this section is

in accordance with the provisions of section 36 (1).





















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