Answer to a question from a reader

Can I claim the RDP house my deceased ex and I got together even if my name is not on the title deed?

The short answer

It depends whether you were living in the house when he died, whether he was married and whether he wrote a will.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My boyfriend and I applied for and received an RDP house together. We later separated and he has since passed away. Can I claim the house for myself even if my name is not on the title deed?

The long answer

When you applied for the RDP house, both your name and your ex-boyfriend’s name were added to a database, and they would still be on that database. So the housing department would have a record of your name as well as his. 

If you separate from your partner, neither of you will be granted another subsidy with a new partner, because you can only ever get one RDP house. 

If you were living in the RDP house at the time your ex-partner died, it’s unlikely that the housing department would remove you from your home, as you would not qualify for an RDP house again.

If your ex-partner made a will nominating someone as his heir, that person would become the legal owner of the house. But if your ex-partner did not make a will, the Intestate Succession Act of 1987 would apply in this way: if there is a surviving spouse and children, the property will be left to him/her and their children. If there is no surviving spouse, the children will inherit, followed by more distant relatives. 

It becomes more complicated if you were not living in the RDP house when he died, and if he was living in it with a new partner or wife and children. In that case, if he was married, the legal wife and children would stand to inherit the house.

Perhaps your first step should be to go to the municipality where you and your late ex-partner applied successfully for the RDP house and ask them to help you. Take all the proof you have of your own ID and of the application and when it was granted etc, and make a note of the person’s name that you speak to, in case you have to take it higher.

If you are not helped by the municipality, the MEC for housing in every province can investigate your case and grant you a new subsidy if he or she thinks it is deserved. 

You could ask the Housing Department in your province for advice:

Housing Enquiries Hotline: 0800 146 873

Mpumalanga: 013 766 6087

Gauteng: 011 355 4000

Western Cape: 079 769 1207 (Please Call Me)

Eastern Cape: 043 711 9901/2/3

KwaZulu Natal: 033 392 6400 or 033 336 5300

North West: 018 388 5403

Limpopo: 015 284 5000

Northern Cape: 053 830 9422

Free State: 051 405 3883

You could also ask for advice and help from a paralegal organisation like the Black Sash, or from lawyers at Legal Aid. Legal Aid is a means-tested organisation.

072 663 3739 

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

Please-Call-Me number: 079 835 7179

Wishing you the best,

Answered on May 15, 2024, 1:06 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.