Sunday 31 March 2024


Thousands of suburban residents in Masvingo City might be at risk of losing their homes as most of them do not have ownership rights in the form of title deeds.

Findings from a survey conducted by the Masvingo City Council that were presented at a title deeds workshop organized by the local authority at Charles Austin Theatre show that a large part of Masvingo’s population have no title deeds and are not aware of process through which one can acquire the documents as well as their importance.

Speaking at the event, Masvingo City Director of Housing and Social Services Simbarashe Mandishona said it was sad to note that most people living in high and medium-density suburbs where most people are located had no title deeds.

“Recently we conducted a survey in Masvingo City trying to figure out people’s awareness of the importance of title deeds and how one can access them. It was however shocking to note that most residents in middle and high-density suburbs formed the largest part of the population that do not have title deeds.

“It is only in low-density suburbs like Rhodene where most people have title deeds and are acquainted with the processes through which the papers are obtained as well as their importance,” said Mandishona.

Mandishona went on to urge all residents from low, medium, and high density suburbs, small and big organizations representatives who were present to take the issue of legal property ownership papers seriously, directing them to inform others who did not attend the familiarization programme.

“I urge everyone here to take this issue seriously because if not, there is a high likelihood that one can easily lose their hard-earned property, be it a house, business, or any other important valued assets. I encourage you all to inform others who are not present on the importance of title deeds and the processes to acquire title deeds to prevent loss of property,” said Mandishona.

Speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office Deputy Registrar Elizabeth Nyagura said it was advisable to use registered legal practitioners known as conveyancers when dealing with property transfers.

“When dealing in property transfer, it is advisable to use a conveyancer who gives effect to the transfer from the seller to the buyer. The conveyancer will make both parties sign declarations where the draft deed of transfer will bear the name of the buyer as the new owner,” said Nyagura.

She warned property owners against displaying certificates in houses.

“A title deed certificate is a security document which must not be displayed on walls, nowadays because of technology one can scan and copy the paper, and who knows what next that person is going to use the document for, so it must be kept private,” said Nyagura.

She also urged people to be careful when using their title deed documents as collateral to get loans as they can be misused and they can lose their properties in the process.

“I also urge you to be careful when using title deeds as collateral, be aware of where you sign papers as they can be declarations giving other people or organizations power over your property. It is advisable to use reputable banking institutions.

“Finally on safe keeping of your documents, I encourage you not to laminate your certificates, because stamps do not work on laminated title deeds, instead place them in plastic to protect them from water and dust,” she said.

She said documents like the original deed of transfer in the name of the seller, CGT certificate issued by ZIMRA, and rates clearance issued by the local authority are some of the documents that might be needed when doing a transfer.

She went on to say when the documents are sent to the deeds office a stamp duty will be paid, the office will then examine the documents and send them to the surveyor general who will deduct the area and return the papers to the deeds office where one paper copy will be left at the office and the other given to the lawyer who will give the buyer.

The documents to be lodged together with the new or draft deed of transfer will vary depending on the cause of the transfer for example sale or transfer from the deceased estate, however, in the case of land development documents such as a compliance certificate issued by the local authority are usually required.

Speaking to TellZim News after the workshop, Edgar Katapa who runs a poultry business in Masvingo said the workshop was an eye opener as it helped with information on issues to do with title deeds to Masvingo residents, how to acquire, and how to keep them safe.

“The title deed workshop was an eye-opener to me, I have learnt a great deal about procedure to follow for one to get the certificate as well as the safekeeping of the documents.

“I urge all people in Masvingo to attend workshops like this one whenever they get a chance and to seek advice from relevant authorities on issues they do not understand concerning deeds certificates since a lot of people have lost their properties due to ignorance of how these things work,” said Katapa.

Reasons for title deed transfer include, sale, inheritance, donation when parents donate to children, or when a husband donates to his wife through sheriff or court order and reconstruction where some group or companies need to restructure or grow its structures. TellZimNews


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