The City of Cape Town notes the newspaper report on the written parliamentary reply by the National Minister of Human Settlements which has confirmed that the City handed over the most title deeds of any metro during the 2014/15 financial year. This has largely been as a result of sound management, foresight and great grassroots action by the City and its partners to eradicate the backlog which exists with title deed transfers.
More than half of the approximately 25 000 historic title deeds which were identified for transfer in 2012 have been completed. The City of Cape Town is now focusing on the remaining 10 000 transfers.
These transfers pertain to older housing projects and what makes this process so difficult is that each case has to be addressed individually. It could also involve a combination of factors that have prevented beneficiaries from receiving title deeds, such as unsigned sale agreements or untraceable beneficiaries.These transfers are, of course, over and above the transfer of deeds pertaining to recent or current housing projects.
‘The process of title deed transfers is a laborious and intricate one but, according to the Minister’s reply, it would mean that the City of Cape Town issued more than half of all title deeds that were issued by metros in the 2014/15 financial year.
‘It is estimated that approximately 900 000 South Africans who reside in government-subsidised housing are not in possession of title deed documents which indicate formal ownership of a property. Formal ownership is a means to unlock economic opportunities.
‘When we transfer title deeds, it is possibly one of the greatest methods to bring redress to our residents who were prohibited from owning property during the reign of the apartheid regime,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Benedicta van Minnen.
The City has transferred more than 14 200 deeds in a span of approximately just over three years. This has been a great task and has entailed individually tracking down the vast number of beneficiaries when, for instance, it was found that sale agreements were not signed, documents were missing, or application forms were incomplete. These factors had all contributed to the delay with the transfers.
Considering the difficulties that are being experienced by other metros, according to the Minister, this is quite a feat.
In early 2012, the City embarked on a project which is still ongoing to make permanent staff and resources available to address historical transfer backlogs where these could be completed.
‘According to the reply given on 4 March 2016, 12 911 title deeds were handed over to households in the 2014/15 financial year. Of these, the City of Cape Town issued 7 924 title deeds, followed by Tshwane metro (7 896). None were handed over by the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in that year. The City of Johannesburg and Buffalo City metro did not hand over title deeds in 2013/14, while the City of Cape Town led other metros in that year too.
‘The eventual issuing of a title deed is the result of a very painstaking process as can also be seen in other parts of the country, such as the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro which, according to a written parliamentary reply given by the Minister on 20 February last year, has approximately 50 000 outstanding title deeds,’ said Councillor Van Minnen.