Court orders that Deeds Office needs to function optimally within restrictions
Since reopening on 12 May, the Cape Town Deeds Office was closed and reopened twice and then operated with such a small staff contingent that the number of backlogged deeds had piled up to around 14 000 by mid-June.
At the beginning of June the deeds office was closed for days without a notice to explain if Covid-19 decontamination was taking place or an indication of when the office will reopen.
The turnaround time for lodging at this deeds office has slowed to 27 days. This is in stark contrast to the average turnaround time of 5-6 days at the deeds offices in Johannesburg or Pretoria.
Conveyancers and estate agencies grew increasingly exasperated by the slow processing of deeds and having to explain the delays to frustrated and often desperate buyers and sellers.
This led to an urgent application to the Cape High Court made by Cape Town Attorneys Association together with the Tygerberg Attorneys Association and the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa.
The Cape High Court then ordered that the city’s deeds office had to reopen on Monday 15 June.
But what is the stumbling block now - is it only the backlog and the massively reduced staff contingent?
A systemic consequence of the backlog that built up from lockdown till we've opened - and the main reason for that was that the Deeds Office opened with a staff compliment of 18 which fell well below the one third allowance that lockdown regulations 3 provided for...Stefan le Roux - member, Cape Town Attorneys Association
The employer has issued a directive in May compelling all employees to report for duty subject to the no work no pay rule - that directive has not been adhered to by all the employees...Stefan le Roux - Cape Town Attorneys Association
Staff are returning to work; they are starting to work on the backlog...we not only want this plan to be applicable now; we want to see it over a gradual period...to assess the situation continuously...to prevent a situation like this repeating itself.Stefan le Roux - Cape Town Attorneys Association
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