In our April 2011 newsletter, we reported on Urban LandMark's research into the reasons behind the delays and blockages in issuing title deeds to beneficiaries of housing projects funded by the capital subsidy. This research - which showed that failure to finalise the proclamation of newly developed areas was a major cause for the more than one million subsidy beneficiaries not having received the title deeds to their properties - was launched together with FinMark Trust's study into the performance of government-subsidised housing assets on 1 December 2011 in Johannesburg.
Attended by officials from the national Department of Human Settlements, national Treasury, the Presidency, the National Planning Commission, the Finance & Fiscal Commission, property market professionals, bank and non-bank lenders, academics and civil society, the launch elicited substantial interest. FinMark and Urban LandMark subsequently presented their research to MINTOP, the meeting of Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale with the top officials in the Department, on 6 December 2011, and to the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements and the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, in early February 2012.
The Department of Human Settlements reports that between 1994 and 2009, 2.94-million housing units and serviced sites have either been built or were under construction. By September 2010, 1.44-million of these properties were formally registered on the Deeds Registry. This means that about 50% of subsidy beneficiaries had not yet received formal title for their housing. Moreover, since 2005, the percentage of subsidy properties that have been formally registered per year has plummeted.
Our research points to several factors that undermine the transfer of title deeds to subsidy beneficiaries, including:
- delayed and stalled processes of township establishment and proclamation
- revisions to the project payment process in the development of subsidy houses
- failure to hand over title deeds, even where they have been issued
- appropriateness of the deeds registration system.
The delay in issuing title deeds for subsidised houses fundamentally undermines the asset quality of government-subsidised housing and compromises the integrity of our Deeds Registry. It is a critical challenge facing the state, which should be addressed with urgency. Our research finds that there are two areas in which registration performance should be improved. First, changes should be made to improve registration rates in new projects, and secondly, steps need to be taken to address the backlog - the more than one million beneficiaries without title deeds.
To access the research reports, go to www.urbanlandmark.org.za/research/x55.php and www.housingfinanceafrica.org/projects/rdp-assets-study
Urban LandMark in 2012 continues to support the national Department of Human Settlements in various areas of work.