The Banking Association of South Africa, along with the Black Conveyancers Association has made a written appeal to Minister Ebrahim Patel for a partial lockdown relaxation at the deeds offices, but to be under controlled conditions. The appeal went on to say that The Banking Association of South Africa supports the national lockdown and the government’s attempts at controlling the virus, but also that our country is quickly seeing the ramifications of absolutely no property transfers going through. With this in light, The Banking Association of South Africa has asked for the deeds office to be re-opened for the remainder of lockdown, especially seeing that some experts have said that lockdown could be extended until June 2020, but that the deeds offices operate with a skeleton staff, and under controlled health and safety rules.

An extract from this appeal clearly shows the plan put forward to Minister Patel, ‘We would not be supportive of a full unlocking of Deeds Offices, but rather a partial unlocking premised on uniform plans which ensure the safety and health of both employees and practitioners.

There are two categories of pending transactions which we believe could be processed between now and the end of this month, namely:

  1. Transactions which have been lodged at Deeds Offices, but which have yet to be finalized by Deeds Office staff; and
  2. Documentation which has been finalized at Conveyancers Offices, but which needs to be delivered to Deeds Offices for lodgement’.

The Banking Association of South Africa also made mention that of course, consideration should be given to the mode of transport that deeds office staff use, as their safety should remain the most important factor. By attending to the above two types of transactions, when the lockdown is lifted and our Government starts to allow certain sectors to begin operating again, this will reduce the copious amount of deeds to be registered and the amount of pressure that results from a back-log, as well as start to assist in the rebuilding of our economy right now.

Though, on the other hand, whilst agreeing to a partial lockdown relaxation at deeds offices may help to accelerate the normalcy of the property sector, those who’s deeds may register during the lockdown will not be able to take occupation of their new homes, or leave old ones behind. Technically, this would mean that new homeowners will begin paying towards their mortgage installments (if a mortgage has been taken out on the property), but will not be able to have access to the property until the lockdown is over. Unfortunately, it is not a simple decision to be made by Government, none of the decisions they face right now are, but we put our faith in them that they will continue to do what is best for our country and people.