Lost Title Deeds. What to do?
With the registration of immovable property in your name at the Deeds Office, a new Title Deed will be issued which serves as confirmation that you are the irrebuttable owner of the property. The original Title Deed must either be in your possession or in the possession of a bond holder (a bank for example) in the instance where a bond has been registered over the property.
It often happens that the owner or the bond holder loses or misplaces a Title Deed which means that the owner cannot deal or trade with the property. Fortunately, Regulation 68(1) of the Deed Registries Act provides an outcome in these situations. A new deed (“VA”) can be applied for which then replaces the original Title Deed.
Until recently the process of being issued with a VA was fairly simple and time efficient. The registered title holder of the Title Deed could simply sign a VA application which could be lodged at the Deeds Office in order to be issued with a VA. However, since January 2019 this process is amended and is now a much more complicated, time consuming procedure.
The process involves the following:
- The registered title holder of the Title Deed must sign an application for a VA which will be prepared by a conveyancer.
- The signed application is then used to request a copy of the original Title Deed from the Deeds Office. The turnaround time for receiving same can vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the circumstances.
- Upon receipt of the above-mentioned copy, an advertisement must be placed in the local newspaper of the area in which the property is located. This advertisement serves as a notice that the title holder intends to apply for a VA and that a copy of the original Title Deed is available for inspection at the relevant Deeds Office. The copy must lie for inspection by the public for a period of two weeks, calculated from the date of the advertisement.
- Should there be no objections against the application within the two week period, the title holder can continue to lodge the application at the Deeds Office in order to be issued with the VA.
The VA application can, fortunately, be lodged at the Deeds Office together with any linking transaction. It is therefore not necessary to be in possession of the VA before continuing with a transaction. In the instance where a bond has been registered over the property, the bond holder must also consent to the issuing of the VA. Lastly, it is important to remember that the original Title Deed cannot be used after the VA has been issued by the Deeds Office. An endorsement against the property will be noted by the Deeds Office referring to the VA as soon as the VA has been issued.
Do not hesitate to contact our conveyancing department should you have any further queries at email@example.com.
Article by Paul Delport, Senior Associate (Conveyancer and Notary)