Answer to a question from a reader

Was it legal for my grandfather to sell my father's RDP house and how can my mother claim the title deed?

The short answer

It was almost certainly not legal. Here are some options for your mother.

The whole question

Was it legal for my grandfather to sell my late father's RDP house without my mother's knowledge or permission? How can my mother claim the title deed?

The long answer

1. It was almost certainly not legal for your grandfather to sell the house without your mother’s knowledge or permission. Even if your father had named your grandfather as his heir in his will, if your father and mother were married in community of property, your mother would be entitled to her half share of their joint property, when your father died. The other half would be distributed according to his will. If he died without a will, which is called intestate, she would inherit the property. This is the order in which people inherit in intestate succession: 

  • The spouse/s of the deceased

  • The descendants of the deceased

  • The parents of the deceased (only if the deceased died without surviving spouse or descendants)

  • The siblings of the deceased (only if one or both parents are predeceased)

  • When the deceased left only spouses and no descendants, the wives will inherit the estate in equal shares

  • When the deceased left spouses and descendants, the spouses and descendants will inherit the estate in equal shares, but each wife should inherit at least R250 000

  • When the estate is not large enough to allow each wife to inherit R250 000, the spouses will inherit the estate in equal shares while the descendants will not receive anything.

So you can see that your grandfather had no legal right to sell the property because your mother and her children were still alive.


2. Perhaps your mother should start off by taking your late father’s documents (death certificate, ID, any documents relating to his ownership of the house, her marriage certificate etc) to the municipality and ask them how she can put this matter right, and if they can assist her. She should check whether there were title deeds issued to your father, and if these title deeds are still in his name.

If she is not sure whether any title deeds were issued, she could find out from her nearest Deeds Office. She would need to go in person, taking your father’s death certificate, ID, the erf number of the house and any other documents that prove he was the owner of the house, and ask the person at the reception desk to do a search for the title deeds. This would cost about R14.00. If no title deeds were issued, she could ask the municipality to assist in getting the deeds issued, as the title deeds are the only legal proof of ownership.

Here are some options for your mother to get assistance in this matter:   

She could go to Legal Aid, which is a means-tested organisation that is supposed to assist people who can’t afford a lawyer. These are their contact details:

Legal Aid Advice Line (Toll-free): 0800 110 110

Please-Call-Me number: 079 835 7179


She could also approach the following organisation which provides free lawyers if they think the case is in the public interest:

Email: [email protected]

Johannesburg: tel: 011 339 6080

Cape Town: tel: 087 806 6070/1/2


She could also approach an organisation that specifically helps women in legal matters for assistance: 

The Women’s Legal Centre Trust is an NGO that takes up cases to protect and advance women’s human rights.

These are their contact details:

Helpdesk Queries: [email protected]

Telephone: Cape Town: 021 424 5660


She could also ask an organisation like The Black Sash for advice:

Black Sash

For free paralegal advice: 

Email: [email protected]

Helpline: 072 66 33 73

Answered on Oct. 21, 2020, 12:30 p.m.

See more questions and answers

Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.