Answer to a question from a reader

Is it safe to transfer ownership of my house to my niece and can I make her give it back later?

The short answer

Once you transfer the house to your niece, it is legally hers to with as she pleases.

The whole question

I want to move to a retirement village but I do not qualify if I own a house. I don't want to sell my house. Is it safe for me to transfer ownership of it to my sister's daughter? I still want to have access to the house so that, if I decide to come back, she won't have the right to refuse me. I want us to sign that if I want my house back in the future, she must allow it and change ownership back to me. 

The long answer

Once the house is transferred into your niece’s name, she is the legal owner of the house, and it may not be so easy to get her to transfer it back to you again, bearing in mind that you have to pay a lawyer called a conveyancer to transfer a house into a different name, and it is a long, expensive process.

It might be a good idea to get some legal advice about the best way forward for you. Here are the contact details of two organisations that could advise you: 

  • Black Sash

For free paralegal advice: 

Email: [email protected]

Helpline: 072 66 33 73

  • The Women’s Legal Centre Trust 

This is an organisation that specifically offers legal assistance to protect and advance women’s human rights.

These are their contact details:

Helpdesk Queries: [email protected]

Telephone: Cape Town: 021 424 5660

Answered on Nov. 3, 2020, 1 p.m.

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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.