Answer to a question from a reader

How can I get an RDP house I bought transferred to my name if the seller has disappeared?

The short answer

Make a sworn, signed, certified affidavit at the police station about how and when you bought the house and from whom, including the name of the daughter you paid and how much you paid for it.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I bought an RDP house in 1999 but it was never transferred to my name even though I paid the full amount for it. The woman who sold the house to me disappeared for two years and when I found her again she wanted more money. I applied for a subsidy, which she signed before disappearing again. When I found her again a year later, I applied for a subsidy again but then she disappeared again.

The long answer

I am assuming that the subsidy you are talking about is the R202,888 to buy an existing house or construct an incomplete house. The Western Cape Government website says that you can apply for this subsidy, but in order to qualify, you need to be registered on the housing demand database, you cannot have owned a property before, and the subsidy can only be used once if your application is successful.

So, there are a number of things I am not understanding here: 

Why would you be applying for a subsidy if you had already paid the full amount for the house? Do you have proof of payment? Was it because the daughter was demanding more money in order to transfer the house into your name? 

Does applying for a subsidy mean applying to the municipality for financial assistance to transfer the house into your name? Is that why the daughter signed this application? How is it possible to apply twice for such a subsidy? Is there actually a title deed for the house? Is it in the name of the mother who passed away? 

As none of this is clear to me, perhaps the best advice is that you first gather all the proof that you have of paying for the house. Make a sworn, signed, certified affidavit at the police station about how and when you bought the house and from whom, including the name of the daughter you paid and how much you paid for it. Include also the fact that she disappeared and then came back wanting more money from you. That you have applied to the municipality for a subsidy – and the reason for that – and that the daughter signed this application and has since disappeared once more. Take this affidavit to the municipality, together with all the proof you have of paying for the house in full, and ask them to assist you in getting the property transferred into your name. Write down the date and the name of the person who assisted you, as you may need that later.

If you are not sure whether a title deed has ever been issued for the house, you can check at the Deeds Office. You would need to go in person to the Deeds Office with the erf number of the plot and the full name and/or ID number of the previous owner. They will help you fill out a form to check whether the deed was registered and you will have to pay a search fee of around R14.00.

If they find the deed, they can advise you how to have it transferred into your name. This involves a lawyer called a conveyancing attorney who will do the transfer and may charge a fee of around R8,000 which includes VAT.

You could also approach Legal Aid, which is a means-tested organisation and must assist people who can’t afford a lawyer. You could take all your proof and affidavit/s to them and ask whether they can approach the court for a declaratory order that you are the legal owner of the house. If the court declares that you are the rightful owner, and there was a title deed issued, you can take steps to get it transferred to your name.

This is the contact information for Legal Aid: 

Legal Aid Advice Line (Toll-free): 0800 110 110

Legal Aid Ethics Hotline: 0800 153 728

Please-Call-Me number: 079 835 7179

Before the Registrar of Deeds can transfer the property, the municipality must issue a clearance certificate saying that all municipal service fees and rates have been fully paid for two years before you applied for the certificate. 

In all this, the municipality should assist you. If the local office is not helpful, you could contact the Housing Enquiries of the Department of Human Settlements at the toll-free customer service hotline:

0800 146 873 / 012 421 1915

You can call the Help Desk on 021 483 6488 / 0611 / 8984 / 0623 (Monday to Friday from 07:30 – 15:00)


You can also go in person to the Human Settlements Department at 27 Wale Street, Cape Town, taking all your proof and affidavit/s.

Finally, if they are not helpful, you can email the MEC: 

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Nov. 24, 2023, 12:48 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.