Due to an increase in fraudulent transactions a need has arisen for stricter procedures in respect of the issuing of copies of Title Deeds and Mortgage Bonds as provided for in the Deeds Registries Act and Regulations. Prior to the 24 February 2019 the process of replacing a lost title deed or mortgage bond has been fairly simple and inexpensive. With effect from 25 February and as a result of amendments to the Deeds Registries Act and Regulations, this process has now been made much more complicated and more costly. Now an application will need to be made to the Registrar of Deeds for the replacement of a lost title deed or mortgage bond. The sting in the tail is that the application needs to be supported by an affidavit signed by a Notary Public and it must first be published in the Government Gazette whereafter it will have to lie for inspection at the Deeds Registry for a period of two weeks to allow for objections from interested parties to the issue of a replacement Title Deed. If an objection is received the deeds office will not issue a replacement title deed. It is presently not clear what steps a party will have to take if an objection is lodged to an application, but probably a court order would need to be obtained pronouncing on the validity or otherwise of the objection. An Applicant will need to pay the legal costs of the application (presently R1150.00 plus VAT), the deeds office fee, the advertising costs in the Government Gazette and also any fee payable to the Notary Public. The current tariff would entitle a Notary to charge a fee of R1600.00 to attest the affidavit. If an objection is lodged and the Applicant is required to approach the High Court for a declaratory order this is a very expensive exercise. If after the application has lain for inspection at the deeds office no objections are received then the Registrar of Deeds will issue a replacement deed to serve in lieu of the original. At Bax Kaplan Russell we foresee that the new regulations may be abused by anyone who objects to an application for a lost title deed because they may have an issue with the Applicant. We also foresee a significant increase in the costs of making an application (in some instances more than 100% increase) and also a significant delay in conveyancing transactions. If you are in possession of your Title Deed then ensure that it is kept in a safe and secure place. If your property is bonded to a bank the bank will have possession of the Title Deed. If you decide to either sell or further mortgage your property then please ask your Attorney to check with your bank whether they have your Title Deed as soon as possible to avoid delays. If the bank has lost your Title Deed it may in certain circumstances pay for the cost of the issue of a replacement Title Deed. If you are in any doubt then consult your Attorney timeously for advice.
• Mike Francis | Director, Bax Kaplan Russell Inc