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Stands for Sale in Zimbabwe – A Scrutiny of Legitimacy


Its not easy to save money that one can use to purchase any of the various stands for sale in such developments like Glaudina,  Crowhill, Charlotte Brooke, Madokero etc or any form of immovable property because of a mountain of economic problems that the country is going through at the moment. Indeed its painful to lose this hard earned cash to voracious property crooks whose presence we are regularly reminded of by newspaper headlines. The biggest problem home seekers have however, is not ignorance pertaining the importance of safeguarding their money but it is a lack of know how about HOW to do it. This is understandable because the security of a property buyer’s money is never one of the minimum O’Levels everybody compulsorily study at school. To this end this article will zero in on the “how to” part by explaining how an interested prospective buyer can ascertain the legitimacy of a stand for sale in Zimbabwe.

By Cain Ndhlovu of Property Matters News

Subdivision permit

In as far as legitimacy is concerned the Rural and Urban Planning Act makes it illegal for any land development to be done without a document known as the subdivision permit being issued by a Local Planning Authority which usually happen to be a city, town or rural council. The reasoning behind this law is that though the need for housing due to population pressures is not a dispute how we address it however, should be in such a fashion that align with the dictates of beauty and order. So when you come to a developers office you must ask for this document and take note of the following information in your note book.

  1. Name of the applicant for the permit.
  2. The following title deeds details of the property being subdivided.
  3. a) Legal description of the property. Usually it’s a statement which has this vocabulary “ … certain piece of land known as …”. The legal description provides the stand / lot number, its location and size in square meters.
  4. b) Deeds number which is something like 1929 / 2017 meaning title deeds number one thousand nine hundred and twenty nine of the year two thousand and seventeen.

But if you are confused the best is to take a photocopy of the permit to the department of physical planning of the Local Planning Authority so that they validate it for you. Your quest to verify the legitimacy does not end however, when you are shown the subdivision permit because we have mentioned two critical permit elements namely title deeds details and the applicant whose legitimacy must also be scrutinized.

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Title deeds

You must be shown the title deeds whose details appear in the permit so that you can also verify its legitimacy at the deeds office in Bulawayo or Harare.  But whilst you are still in the developers office you must do a critical check that can save you time. You should check to see if the person mentioned as the applicant of the permit and the one mentioned as the transferee or owner of title deeds is ONE. I mean same name and surname, same date of birth and same national ID number. If this information defers then it’s a big problem because its one of a Local Planning Authority’s requirement that the only person who can apply for a subdivision permit is the title deed owner. There is no any other way!  If the information is not the same please look for another stand else where. But if this particular information is the same then move to the next step which is the deeds office where you must verify the legitimacy of the title deeds whose details are given in the permit. The best advise for layman when it comes to this point is to kindly seek audience with the register of deeds office so that they scrutinize a title deeds’ security features for you. I recommend this  because some con artists can be so good such that they can run you over despite your best efforts. Some criminal syndicates can even steal the government copy of a title deeds available to the public for information purposes. It will be difficult for a layman to avoid being conned here because the title deed itself will be original. After the title deeds the next important item to scrutinize is the identity of the person (individual or corporate)  mentioned as the transferee which means owner in the title deeds. Remember the person mentioned as transferee in the title deeds must be the very same one designated as applicant in the subdivision permit.  We will look at this below.

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Identification of applicant

Scrutinizing the identity of applicant is important because in some cases an applicant can be a company which only acts through agents who must be fully authorized by a resolution of the board. This is also the case for properties owned through a trust.  A deceased estate however, is one form of ownership that usually confuse many a home seeker. A deceased estate is property belonging to a deceased or dead person and is inherited by living beneficiaries of the estate. For beneficiaries to own this property a full registration of the estate must be done at the high or magistrate court and a certificate of administration is issued in which an executor dative is appointed as the person to supervise the distribution of the estate. For a vast piece of land beneficiaries can agree to subdivision and selling of pieces of land as a reasonable way of distributing the deceased estate. In such a case the person recognized as a bona fide owner by the law is one namely the executor dative mentioned as such in the certificate of administration. So in this case the document you must ask for is the certificate of administration whose legitimacy is verified at the magistrate or high court.

Despite the form of ownership all stands that are subdivisions are new properties whose physical presence and creation is only recognized legally by The Surveyor General. So in addition to all the above steps one must finally visit the Surveyor General’s offices and use the legal description of the individual stand to do what is known as search of survey in order to verify whether or not the stand in question is recognized by the statutory authority. The rational for having the Surveyor General is the same for having a subdivision permit which is the need for land should be addressed in a fashion that align with the dictates of beauty and order.

DISCLAIMER: This article does not replace advice you should get from your subject matter experts or property advisers.

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