Are you sure you are the registered owner of your home?
If you bought your house in 2008, and have been living in it for 10 years, you have probably paid off 50% of your bond. But do you really own your house? While you may have lived there for almost a decade, you may not be the owner.
The following is a personal and true account of events that took place in 2012.
Simon* bought a house for him and his family in 2008 where they lived happily. Two years later new neighbours moved in next door.
The new neighbours were a young couple, named Dirk and Annette who rented the house from a man called Peter*. Peter had bought the vacant stand in 2002 on which he built the house.
After two years of renting the house, Dirk made an offer to purchase the house from Peter. Peter agreed, and the process was set in motion. Annette, a town and regional planner by profession, decided to go through all the documents related to the property, such as the title deed, sectional title diagrams, the building plans, etc. to ensure that everything was in order.
Whose house is it anyway?
What she found turned the entire transaction on its head. Legally, Peter was the owner of Simon’s house, and Simon owned Peter’s house.
Peter’s house is located behind Simon’s by way of a pan-handle. The two houses were built on one stand, which was registered as a sectional title scheme. Peter’s house was numbered as stand “A”, and Simon’s house was numbered stand “B”.
In 2002, when the stands were registered and the title deeds drawn up, a typing error was made. The person who drew up the title deeds for the stand did not take note of the letters assigned to each stand on the sectional title diagram. The title deeds, therefore, read that Peter, the owner of stand ‘B’ as reflected on sectional-title diagram number x… and Simon, the owner of stand ‘A’ as reflected…
The result of this typing error was that Peter legally owned Simon’s house, and was selling it to Dirk and Annette. Furthermore, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, to rectify the mistake, Simon would have to (again!) pay to have his house transferred from Peter’s name, to his own. Peter got away without having to pay transfer fees (for a second time) as Dirk paid for Simon’s house to be transferred to his name, and Simon paid to have Peter’s house transferred to his.
It took two years to rectify the mistake and Dirk and Annette only took ownership of the property in 2014. Peter and Simon had to pay significant fees to conveyancers and attorneys; and to make matters worse, the developer had no record of the development of the township as the development took place more than five years prior. Legally, the developer was not required to keep documentation of finalised projects older than five years. Simon continued the taxing legal process to have the developer repay the costs that he had to incur. The result of this endeavour is unknown, but one can only imagine a tiring battle.
*not their real names
Words: Annette de Kock, town and regional planner at Property Investment Consulting
Before purchasing a property, Property Investment Consulting can inspect all the documentation beforehand. This is especially relevant for building plans which need to be up to date before proceeding with the transaction.
This investigation does not take long, and does not cost a fortune. Property Investment Consulting’s scoping investigation will provide you with peace of mind, and can save you a small fortune upon selling.
Contact them on +27 76 985 3088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org