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Primary Transfer Toolkit

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Tenure Support Centre, The World Bank Group, 71Point4 Consulting, GeoAfrika Technologies

23 May 2022


TSC Librarian

Tool/ Toolkit

Tenure Support Centre

South Africa

The Primary Transfer Toolkit, with its two components, a Land / Legal toolkit and Beneficiary Administration Toolkit, provides municipalities and housing authorities with a comprehensive knowledge base and best practices overview to reduce the title deed backlog. The National Department of Human Settlements estimates that there are over 1.1 million title deeds that have yet to be registered or formally issued on subsidy houses. Occupants in these houses have been living there for many years, without any formal security of tenure. This clearly undermines the wealth creation objectives of the housing subsidy programme. It also undermines the performance of local property markets, fuels contestation around property ownership within families and communities, and creates enormous challenges for municipalities who cannot effectively engage with property owners around key activities such as billing and building plan approval.


Several blockages and barriers prevent title deeds from being registered or formally issued. In many historical subsidy housing projects, there are no registered general plans. In the general rush to build houses, project managers and professional teams may not have concluded the land assembly processes, and accordingly the Township Registers cannot be “opened” and title deeds registered. Resolving this impediment may take a long time. In addition, because it has been so long since the property was originally handed over to the approved beneficiary, this beneficiary may no longer be in occupation or locatable. Original beneficiaries may have died, married, got divorced or sold their properties.  Housing authorities must therefore determine who lives in each property and who claims ownership. These claims must be validated before the property can be transferred.


Given the complexity of the problem, it is not surprising that progress in tackling the “title deeds backlog” has been limited. But there is a growing body of knowledge and emerging best practice around the core processes that must be navigated to issue a title deed to the rightful owner. Some of this experience and knowledge has been compiled into the Primary Transfer Toolkit, in a collaborative effort between the Transaction Support Centre, National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme, and the World Bank Group.




Website References

Affordable housing market

Blocked projects


Formal tenure


Housing markets


Land assembly

Land governance

Land tenure


Property transactions

Property transfer

South Africa


Tenure regularization

Tenure security

Title deed

Title deed backlog

Title deed transfer

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