Title deeds - [Google Images]

The provincial government has set aside R160 million for the transfer of title deeds, but politicians and rights groups have warned against those abusing the system.

The title deeds that the provincial government will give to thousands of residents will make them owners of their properties, which they can also use as collateral.

But their title deeds might be a passport to easy cash which could see them land up on the housing waiting list again.

During the 2018/19 financial year, 7000 new title deeds will be provided, which will ensure that individuals are given ownership of their properties.

Matlodi Maseko, Western Cape Legislature housing committee chairperson, said that despite a R1billion budget cut over the next three years, the project is still ongoing.

“I’m pleased to note that through the Title Deeds Restoration Project, the new Title Deeds Restoration Grant will allow qualifying residents to benefit and will assist in addressing the backlog of title deeds. All municipalities will submit new business plans when applying for funding in the 2018/2019 financial year,” she said.

She called on Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela to engage with communities and municipalities to resolve any confusion so that every resident realises their constitutional right to housing.

But Madikizela said there were those who abused the system to benefit themselves. “You cannot sell a government house before eight years. When we hand over title deeds, we do so to empower people and give them liquidity. We have processes in place to prevent corruption. When a beneficiary applies for a house or subsidy, he or she can only do so once. And for those who try and abuse the system, there are penalties in place,” he said.

Asked how poor families would be able to afford paying for rates, taxes and insurance, Madikizela said: “Once we hand the property over, we assume no responsibility. It becomes the responsibility of the owner. For those that cannot afford rates and taxes, there is provision made in the indigent grant.”

Brenda Nobanda, deputy chairperson of rights group Reclaim the City, said those who received title deeds and sold their houses were adding to the problem.

“You find certain people who now own houses and then they sell it and take the money and move back to the Eastern Cape. It is wrong, because this makes the process bad for all of us,” she said.

“Part of the reason some people opt to sell the properties is because they can’t afford rates and taxes and insurance for their homes. Others are purely just greedy and take the money and hit the road. There are even others who go back to the township and wait for another house,” she said.

Sharon Davids, ANC spokesperson on housing, said it firmly believed that people should receive their title deeds. “But there are issues with this because some elements abuse the system,” she said.

Davids said having a title deed gave owners power and a sense of belonging. “For those who cannot afford to pay their rates, there are indigent grants. I am confident that those who are employed will surely pay what needs to be paid.”

Ferlon Christians, African Christian Democratic Party leader, said the corruption in the housing sector needed urgent attention.

“We need the government to address the issue. We cannot have people getting title deeds for a state house and selling it just to go and live in a township again.”