This article is in addition to the one explaining properties held under title deeds or cession. It gives pointers on how a holder of cession rights over a property may obtain title deeds to the property.
Briefly, a title deed or deed of transfer is a legal document which identifies or proves the lawful registered owner of a property and is issued by the Deeds Registry in terms of the Deeds Registry Act (Chapter 20:05).
On the other hand for properties held under cession the holder of the cession holder does not have absolute rights on the property.
Cessions held on council land
For cessions on council land the following may explain the absence of title deeds:
The holder of the cession has simply not pursued title deeds.
The property could be under a rent-to-buy agreement and the holder still owes council.
Some houses could be owned by council and occupants are simply renting.
Minimum required improvements may be outstanding.
For some old suburbs such as Highfield, Glen Norah, Mabvuku, Mufakose, the properties may not be surveyed.
According to ML Mhishi in his book, “The Law and Practice of Conveyancing in Zimbabwe”, the land registration system in Zimbabwe is cadastral.
It is based on cadastral surveys done by land surveyors and approved and registered by the Surveyor General.
For each piece of land to be registered it has to be based on an approved survey diagram. A survey diagram contains, inter alia, the description of the unit of land, extent (area) of the unit, the boundaries.
For areas not surveyed property owners have to hire private land surveyors to survey the land and produce the survey diagrams. This is considered expensive unless done jointly by owners and costs shared.
Process of obtaining title
deeds for council land
Visit the local council District Office to understand why your property has no title deeds.
Address the outstanding requirements. Thereafter engage council, usually through the Department of Housing, which if satisfied will issue a letter authorising the processing of your title deeds by council conveyancers.
The owner has to pay conveyancing fees, at times considered unaffordable.
For councils with deed of grant for the land from the State, such as Harare, the process is easier. However, where land is still owned by the State the process involves the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
Land held under cession with land developers
Read your agreement and engage the land developer to understand why transfer is still outstanding.
A land developer can only effect transfer to a buyer if he has a certificate of compliance having complied with town planning requirements on his permit such as payment of endowment fees, separate water connection, roads, entrance culverts, sewer if applicable, survey diagrams.
Godknows Hofisi is a legal practitioner, chartered accountant and corporate rescue practitioner. He is a consultant in deal structuring and tax. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on +263 772 246 900 or [email protected]