The Cape Town Deeds Office has been experiencing continuing delays in property transfers.
These delays are causing chaos for people waiting for house sales to be finalised.
Repeated closures of Cape Town Deeds Office
The Deeds Office reopened after the initial hard lockdown at level 3 in May.
Since then its operations have been intermittent at best.
Towards the end of July, it closed again for four working days to decontaminate the premises.
Industry insiders have accused the Deeds Office staff and management of using the pandemic as an excuse for poor attendance.
About 50 independent Deeds Office clerks have also been banned from the building due to COVID-19.
They have resorted to working on the pavement across the street.
Massive backlog in Cape Town property transfers
The backlog is staggering.
As of 5 August, the backlog was 25,811.
That’s more than 50% of all the deeds lodged from 13 May when the office reopened.
According to the Deeds Office website, applications are supposed to take seven working days.
Now, conveyancers are looking at waits of up to two months.
Department delays exacerbate problem
Delays from other departments are exacerbating the problem.
Transferring attorneys are battling to get rates clearance certificates from municipalities that are behind due to lockdown closures.
These documents are crucial for registration with the Deeds Office.
Home sellers face months of delays
The backlog is translating into huge delays for home sellers and buyers.
It’s impossible for sellers and buyers to move forward and plan ahead.
Due to the economic downturn and rise in unemployment, some property sales are being made out of financial necessity.
Sellers can’t afford long delays.
Estate agents and conveyancers are dealing with frustrated and unhappy clients.
Legal action against the Deeds Office
In June, the Cape Town Attorneys Association (CTTA), the Tygerberg Attorneys Association and the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa lodged an application with the Western Cape High Court to try to restore regular working hours at the Cape Town Deeds Office.
Delays in getting personal protective equipment, frequent closures and lack of staff have contributed to the delays.
Even taking reduced staff due to social distancing into consideration, the Deeds Office is understaffed.
This legal action may rectify this too.
Cape Town Deeds Office update
A court order compelled the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and the Chief Registrar of Deeds to submit a “Deeds Office COVID-19 Action Plan”.
These plans were filed on 22 July.
The former president of the Cape Town Attorneys Association, Attorney Stefan le Roux, called the plan “inadequate”.
A response from Le Roux and the CTAA chairperson submitted that the minister and chief registrar “failed to keep abreast of the latest development around the pandemic”, leading to the delays.
More recently, the Cape Town Deeds Office has said it’s prioritising an upgrade of its IT system so that some officials can work from home where possible.
Getting bridging finance on pending house sale proceeds
Bridging finance is effectively an advance on the proceeds from a property sale.
It helps cover the gap between selling a home and receiving the funds from the sale after registration has been submitted and approved.
This gap can be long during the best of times and, with the current delays, people are finding themselves short of much-needed funds for relocating or moving to a new home.
Bridging finance is a quick and easy way to cover this gap.
Bridging finance with Lamna
At Lamna, we can help you get bridging finance while you wait during the continuing Deeds Office delays in Cape Town.
Bridging finance is settled as soon as the proceeds from the house sale come through, so the transaction is low-risk and short-term.
The application is also straightforward and quick, meaning you can get on with planning your move without worrying about money.
At Lamna, we offer competitive interest rates that fall within NCA limits. We are licenced by the Financial Services Board and registered with the NCR.
We offer fast, discreet loans against the value of a wide range of assets, from luxury watches and jewellery to vehicles or artwork.
Client borrows R10,000 for 90 days.
Total Cost of Loan
Fixed rates range from 36% to 60% APR and payment options range from minimum 3 to maximum 24 months. Apart from the initiation and monthly fees shown below, the only additional fee is credit life insurance if the borrower does not have this already.