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Lights go out

Numbers are unclear, but it seems that certain images of title deeds scanned between August 25 and December 6 last year "are lost", according to Tshepo Diale of the land affairs department. Although backup procedures in which images were stored on microfilm were in place when the Pretoria Deeds Registry started scanning title deeds in March 2006, when it moved onto an electronic title deed record management system, the system failed.

An agreement with the property committee of the Association of Pretoria Attorneys for its members to return all title deeds for rescanning should see the title deeds being rescanned within six weeks. Diale confirmed that there would be delays in transferring ownership of properties whose title deeds had been lost, but the registration of these transactions would be expedited upon request to the registrar of deeds.

Michelle Horn, chairman of the Association of Pretoria Attorneys property committee, has denied that an agreement had been reached and that the costs of recovering lost deeds would only be known once attempts were made to do so. The costs involved were largely those of looking for and delivering the deeds to the deeds office, rescanning them, and sending them to the financial institutions if necessary. If a deed was missing then an application in terms of section 38 of the Deeds Registries Act would have to be made. Many attorneys have been affected and, according to Horn, the Law Society therefore needs to get involved in resolving the problem.

Article on Business Report

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