C&A Friedlander Attorneys

A title deed serves as proof of your legal ownership over a property. When one wants to transfer a property, this document is of utmost importance.Regulation 68 of the Deeds Registries Act 47 of 1937 sets out the process to follow where one has lost or destroyed a title deed or mortgage bond. The regulation used to provide that where a homeowner had lost or destroyed their title deed, a written application and affidavit could be submitted to the Registrar wherein the property owner would state the following:

  1. the details of the deed;
  2. the circumstances under which it was lost or destroyed;
  3. an assurance that the deed has not been pledged or detained as security for debt;
  4. an assurance that an exhaustive search has been made if the deed was lost; and
  5. a statement that the original title deed will be provided to the Registrar of deeds if found.

If there was a mortgage bond over the property, the relevant bank would sign a document that they were not in possession thereof and that it has no objection to the application. This was a relatively simple process.

However, regulation 68 of the Deeds Registries Act has recently been amended by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. This amendment has far-reaching consequences for homeowners. The process has been made significantly more difficult with the new amendments and has left us all yearning for the simpler days.

The application and affidavit process remain. However, there is a new provision that the affidavit must be attested to by a notary public. A notary public is an attorney who has specialised in notarial work which largely consists of the authentication of certain legal documents. The purpose of this is to raise the standard of care and responsibility, as this standard is set particularly high for notary publics. One can find a notary public at most firms that have a Conveyancing Department. This will add to the costs of your application.

Pursuant to this, one must advertise in a local newspaper, who will also charge for such publication. The purpose of this advertisement is to convey your intention to apply for a certified copy of the title deed or the cancellation of a lost bond.

One then has to leave a copy of the title deed or mortgage bond to lie for inspection at the deeds registry for two weeks after the date of advertisement in the newspaper. The purpose of this is to allow for objections from the public.

The main purpose of this amendment is the prevention of fraud and the subsequent need to put stricter measures in place to counter said fraud. Furthermore, this amendment has also been brought to life as the number of applications for lost or destroyed copies have been on a steady incline in the past few years. Seemingly this has created the impression that the significance of title deeds has decreased as it was rather simple to obtain a copy. Thus, the aim of the new process is to place more importance on the care of the original deed, and encourage a higher standard of care, with the option still available to obtain a new one, however in a much more complex manner.

The moral of the story? Look after your title deed! The best option in ensuring the safety and preservation of your original title deed is to leave it with the attorneys who have attended to or who are attending to your transfer. The title deed will be stored securely and a certified copy can be handed to you, as the property owner. It is important to note that if your property is bonded, the title deed will remain under the bank’s custody until the bond is paid off. If you are wanting to transfer your property and you do not have your original title deed, inform your conveyancer as soon as possible so that the process can commence and cause as little delay as possible to your transfer.

Good luck!


by Tayla Strauss


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).