Digitalization…the “future” of the Property Industry!?

Mohamed Raees Hussain | Attorney: Conveyancing Division
  • A need for change or an adaptation to an already changing environment?
  • Why change something that works?
  • What issues and challenges will the change bring?

These are but some of the questions which people involved in the property industry would have asked following a significant move towards the digitalization of deeds registrations in South Africa, i.e. the signing into law of the Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Act, 19 of 2019 (EDRS Act).

Currently there is a manual system in place which regulates the preparation, processing and registration of Deeds and other documents at the various Deeds Registries. 

All too often, the manual system although one of the best and safest in the world, is seen as archaic due its arduous manual nature. This coupled with the constant evolution towards a more digital era, brought with it not only a need for change but also a need for adaptation to the already evolving environment which saw the birth of the EDRS Act.

The EDRS Act paves the way for the development and implementation of an electronic based system which will effectively replace the existing manual system. This is known as the Electronic Deeds Registration System (e-DRS).

The intention behind the system is simple, i.e. replace the existing manual processes thereby allowing these to be done electronically; from the preparation of documents to the signing of these documents and ultimately its registration.

The system will have to work in tandem with certain other Acts, like the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) which will regulate and address the issues around electronic signatures; whilst on the other hand, it will at the very least necessitate amendments to certain other Acts such as the Deeds Registries Act and the Sectional Titles Act.

The e-DRS will provide for amongst other things:
  • The registration of larger volumes of deeds more effectively;
  • Improved turnaround times;
  • Country-wide access to deeds registration services;
  • Enhanced accuracy of examinations and registrations;
  • Access of information to the public; and
  • Enhanced security features.

Despite its full implementation still being far away as well as the various concerns surrounding an electronic registration system, the idea of such a system has certainly elicited a reaction and although it may be some time before the e-DRS kicks off, these are indeed interesting and exciting times for the property industry in South Africa.