Government mulls tech to speed-up issuing of title deeds

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Human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
Human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

Government will look to partner with the banking sector and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to help find ways of using technology to fast-track the issuing of title deeds.

So said human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu, noting challenges with SA’s titling process.

Title deeds are paper documents showing the chain of ownership for land and property.

According to Sisulu, her department has issued just under 30 000 title deeds in the past few months, through its provincial and municipal offices.

More needs to be done to fast-track the delivery of title deeds, says the minister. “To assist us to fast-track this, we are going to request the banking sector, together with the CSIR, to see if we cannot use technology to advance the issuing of title deeds.

“If we as a country are able to register a child at birth, it should be possible to use the same kind of technology and logic to register a house even before it is built, therefore knowing ahead of time who the title deed should belong to and the title deed should be given to at a time that the house is handed over.”

The minister indicated that part of the reason government has not yet been able to fast-track the delivery of title deeds is because officials often arrive at the beneficiary’s address only to find the owner of the house is no longer there.

This, she says, is despite a legal requirement that makes it very clear that people who are given houses are required to be in their houses for eight years before they hand it over to anybody.

“However, this is something that is regularly ignored and we are finding it difficult to fast-track this.

“Our biggest problem is that sometimes we find that we get to a house and there is a clear division in a family over who should own a title deed. The biggest problem here is that we as government cannot intervene in family disputes over who is the owner of the house in order to accord the title deed to.”

According to the minister, the department is seeking legal advice on how to deal with this issue.

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