Answer to a question from a reader

How can I transfer the property that my mother bought in 1993 to my name if it was never transferred to her?

The short answer

You need to negotiate a new deal with the municipality that issued the Deed of Sale.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My late mother tried to purchase the council house that she was renting in Bridgetown, Athlone from the City of Cape Town. Although the Deed of Sale was dated and signed by a town clerk on 19 March 1993 and my mother paid a deposit of R5,955.00, the property was never transferred to her name. 

As her sole beneficiary and executor of my mother's estate, I have the Deed of Sale. How can I get the City to complete the transfer? And can I apply for tenancy while the estate is being wound up?

The long answer

As you know, a Deed of Sale is a legally binding document that contains all the terms and conditions of the sale and is signed by both seller and buyer. The Deed of Sale should specify the amount to be paid, what the agreed method of payment is, and what the occupational rent is. (Occupational rent would be what your mother would pay monthly to the City of Cape Town until the transfer process was complete.)

To transfer title deeds involves a transfer attorney called a conveyancer. Usually, the seller appoints the conveyancer and the buyer must pay the conveyancer’s fees. The conveyancer and the buyer and seller all receive a copy of the Deed of Sale.

The conveyancer must do all the legal paperwork. Once that is done, the buyer and the seller both sign the transfer papers. Only once the buyer has paid the purchase price in agreement with the terms and conditions of the Deed of Sale, and paid the conveyancer, will the conveyancer register the transfer of title deeds at the Deeds Office. Since 2019, if the property is valued at less than R1,000,000 no transfer costs have to be paid to SARS – but this does not affect the conveyancer’s fees.

It’s not clear why the transfer process was stalled some 28 years ago, whether a conveyancer was ever appointed by the City of Cape Town, and in addition, what has become of the deposit your mother paid.

Perhaps you should start by approaching the municipality where the Deed of Sale was signed by the town clerk in 1993: show them the Deed of Sale and ask them to check their records to see why the transfer never took place and what became of the deposit your mother paid. You would need to inform them that you want to purchase the property yourself, given that your mother has now died. A new Deed of Sale in your name would have to be negotiated. The value of the property is likely to be much higher than it was in 1993. You would need to find out from the municipality what the situation is regarding an application for tenancy while the estate is being wound up.

If the municipality is not helpful, you can contact the Western Cape Government Complaints Contact Centre:

You can also take queries or complaints about Western Cape Government services to the walk-in centre at 9 Wale Street, Mondays to Fridays, between 7.30am and 4pm. 

Wishing you the best,

Answered on April 29, 2021, 1:02 p.m.

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