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The signing of a purchase and sales agreement (deed of sale) gives a buyer the right to claim transfer of the property. The buyer becomes an owner once the property is transferred into his or her name.
The conveyancer, who has special expertise and skills as an attorney, lodges the necessary documents with the deeds office to have the property registered in the name of the new owner.
A waiting period of between a few weeks and three months seems to be the norm, unless there are complications.
The joy of receiving ownership rights to their flat has turned into a nightmare for the Kings of Sydenham Lodge body corporate in Durban.
A process that started in July 2009 remains suspended in confusion between the parties involved.
When Feranah King and her husband Charles King enquired about the delay in receiving their title deeds, they were informed by a housing official at eThekwini municipality to speak to the conveyancing attorneys, Kruger Ngcobo Incorporated.
The attorneys advised the Kings to get a letter from the department of housing instructing them to investigate the delay. A letter was never given to the Kings and, after numerous attempts to have the dwelling transferred into their names, they turned to the Organisation of Civic Rights (OCR).
The attorneys subsequently informed the Kings that there was a error that recorded the unit 707 under Block B instead of A, thereby causing the delay of the registration of the unit.
Two properties, one being the Kings in Sydenham Lodge and another in Sydenham Manor, are with the conveyancing attorneys.
In all fairness to the attorneys, they followed instructions received from the seller, eThekwini Municipality.
According to Nina Brune of Kruger Ngcobo Inc last week, “it would appear that levy clearance figures are requested, but that by the time the municipality pays, they have expired; alternatively, they pay the one and not the other.
“The only time both levies were paid simultaneously was in December, and then there was insufficient time to register the transfer before the levy clearances expired...”
It is not possible to register a transfer with the deeds office without a valid levy clearance certificate, and the attorneys are not willing to do so.
A meeting was held in Nov-ember 2010 with the OCR representative, Pretty Gumede, Charles King’s mother and the municipality’s officials, Sipho Ngema, conveyancing manager (transfer section) and Sifiso Mhlongo, principal project officer. King’s mother was asked by Mhlongo to provide him with Wakefields Property Management (Pty) Ltd (Wakefields) details. Although annoyed at this request, she complied because she wanted the matter to be resolved.
The meeting confirmed that the Kings’ unit was incorrectly registered; a wrong block number was the cause of the delay in the Kings’ getting the title deeds.
Ngema said he would sort out the transfer, which usually took about 4 to 6 weeks.
He envisaged the matter to be sorted out in January 2011, since the deeds office closed in mid-December 2010.
Since the dwelling was not transferred, even though the Kings had paid transfer fees in 2007, they continue to pay rental to the municipality, but are also billed by Wakefields for the monthly levy, although this is paid by the municipality.
The Kings would be required to pay the levy once ownership is transferred to them, but until then, they continue to be a tenant.
Mhlongo informed King on February 24, 2011, that a levy amount of R1600.00 was outstanding, together with interest, and until this was paid to Wakefields, a levy clearance certificate could not be issued.
According to Mhlongo, an official in charge of the project indicated that the municipality would resist payment since there were no arrears.
The so-called levy arrears, according to the official, was an administrative matter, in that the municipality’s monthly levy payment scheduled for a fixed date did not coincide with Wakefields’ billing date.
King’s question was why a simple meeting could not be convened with Wakefields, the attorneys and the relevant municipal officials to sort out the levy clearance certificate.
Enquiries directed to Wakefields in the second week of May 2012 led to confusion about whether it was Sydenham Lodge, since Sydenham Manor did not appear on their system.
According to Wakefields, the person in charge was on leave, but it appeared that it referred to the same sectional title scheme. This, of course, is not the case.
Pressed for answers from Wakefields, a Jean Visser from the compliance department of Propell entered the fray.
Propell, it was explained, was the levy financier for the body corporate appointed by Wakefields and the trustees to handle the levy financing of the sectional titles scheme.
They were not aware of the situation until questions were posed to Wakefields for this article.
Propell’s Jean Visser said that Bonita Flink from their office was informed of the matter and she was in contact with Balungile Bhengu (Balu), eThekwini’s senior housing officer, to assist in obtaining clearance figures.
Numerous attempts, including meetings with the municipality’s officials to get a response for this article proved fruitless.
No one can say when the transfer will take place, and why the levy payment at a particular date due to the municipality’s monthly scheduled payment system has not been sorted out with the managing agent. The last indication that something was being done was on May 10, 2012, when King asked Balu to clarify why there was still confusion regarding Sydenham Lodge and Sydenham Manor.
Registering a transfer with the deeds office can take more than a few weeks, or even a few months.
Indeed, eThekwini municipality has demonstrated that it can take more than 3 years.
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l Dr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed is the chairman, Organisation of Civic Rights.
For tenants’ rights advice, contact Loshni Naidoo or Pretty Gumede at 031 304 6451.