What You Need To Know If You Want To Purchase Property In Eswatini

By Ntokozo Nkambule

Q: How is immovable property transferred from one person to another?

A: In terms of section 15 of the Deeds Registry Act, 1968 immovable property (i.e. vacant land or land with a building) can only be transferred by means of a Deed of Transfer attested by the Registrar of Deeds.

Q: What is a Deed of Transfer?

A: A Deed of Transfer is a registered legal document which evidences ownership in respect of defined a piece of land.

Q: Can I as a property owner prepare a Deed of Transfer?

A: No. In terms of section 14 of the Deeds Registry Act only a conveyancer can prepare a Deed of Transfer. Mortgage bonds are another common use document whose preparation is exclusively done by a conveyancer.

Q: What is a conveyancer?

A: A conveyancer is a special type of lawyer that has been both admitted as an attorney and conveyancer of the High Court. They have to sit for and pass a rigorous exam before they can be admitted as such.

Q: What do I need to do when I am interested in purchasing an immovable property?

  1. Conduct a deeds search at the Deeds office. Through this search you will receive confirmation that indeed the property is owned by the seller.
  2. Do conduct a site visit of the property being sold so that you satisfy yourself as to its condition.
  3. Insist on entering into a written sale agreement with the seller, popularly known in property circles as a deed of sale.
  4. Do not pay any funds directly to the purchaser before the property is registered into your own name. If they insist on a deposit or upfront cash, insist on paying it into the trust account of an attorney with the specific instruction that it only be released to the seller once the property is registered in your own name.
  5. If not paying cash, secure a bank guarantee letter from your bank and furnish it to the seller or their representatives within the timelines stated in the deed of sale.

Q: Are there any other documents required for transfer purpose?

A: Yes, and these include power of attorney, transfer duty receipt, clearances relating to income and property (rates) taxes, a certified copy of National Identity Document.

Q: How long does the deeds office take to register a Deed of Transfer and thereafter deliver it the Conveyancer after registration, and why?

A: Registration of Deeds of Transfer takes between 5 – 7 working days from lodgment and about 10 days to deliver a title deed to the conveyancer after registration. The 10 days is to allow the office to complete the necessary administrative actions such as numbering, effecting an authentication seal of office, the performance of quality assurance procedures, information capturing, and scanning for archiving purposes.

Q: The property was registered in my name but I did not receive my title deed.  Where is my title deed?

A: It is best to contact the conveyancer dealing with the registration of the transfer of the property into your name, in order to establish the whereabouts of your title deed.

However, please note the following:

  1. After registration has taken place in the deeds registry, and after the relevant deed and documents have been archived and the deed of transfer is delivered to the conveyancer.
  2. Should transfer of the property occurred simultaneous with the registration of a mortgage bond over such property, then your conveyancer is duty bound to transmit the Deed of Transfer (together with the Mortgage Bond) to the bond holder (financial institution – Bank).

Q: My parents passed away, what must I do to have their property registered in my name?

A: Legal steps to be followed in the winding up of a deceased estate, that is, transfer of property from the name of a deceased to her/his descendants.

  1. Reporting the death to the Master of the High Court that serves the area in which the property concerned is situated.
  2. Master appoints an Executor.
  3. The duties of the Executor include amongst others, the following:
  4. The advertising for creditors to lodge claims.
  5. The preparation of a list of the assets in the estate called an inventory.
  6. The preparation and advertising of a liquidation and distribution account, if any, and finally.
  7. The distribution of the assets.
  8. The distribution of immovable property in favour of the beneficiaries is done by means of registration in the Deeds Office wherein the Executor instructs a conveyancer to effect transfer in the Deeds Office.

Note: This article first appeared in Eswatini Property Review, our sister publication.

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