AN anonymous NU4 reader wrote:
About three years ago I bought an RDP house from a woman who has since passed on. She died before we went to the lawyers and put the house under my name. The problem is there is another woman who claims the house is hers and the neighbours say she is the older sister and the house was left to her by their parents when they died. What can I do?
Legal Aid Port Elizabeth Justice Centre’s civil principal attorney Mike Burmeister replies:
In order to be able to give advice one will have to establish:
1. Whether the lady was in fact the registered owner of the property, or whether she had some other right in law (executor, etc) to be able to sell the property to the anonymous writer.
2. If she was the owner, then we need to establish whether the sale of the property was in writing, ie did it comply with the provisions of the Alienation of Land Act.
3. The date on which she became the owner of the property is also relevant as RDP houses may not be sold within eight years from date of receipt thereof.
4. If all of the above is answered in the affirmative, ie that she had the right to sell and the agreement was in writing, then the purchaser may bring an application in the high court to request a declaratory order that the house be transferred into his/her name.
If the family/executor refuses to sign the transfer papers, the sheriff can be appointed to sign on behalf of the estate of late seller, provided of course that the purchaser has paid.
In such situations it is best to see a legal expert to establish whether there is sufficient evidence or grounds for legal action to be successful and to provide the legal expert with all the information possible at the first meeting.
Legal Aid South Africa does take on civil cases, subject to a person qualifying in terms of a means test, and in respect of certain matters.
A civil unit attorney would have to interview the person concerned and then advise on what action might be possible.
The reader can visit any of Legal Aid South Africa’s offices in the Eastern Cape or call the Port Elizabeth office at (041)408-2800.