Zvimba seeks to cancel Rydale title deeds

Zvimba seeks to cancel Rydale title deeds
Zvimba seeks to cancel Rydale title deeds.

Zvimba seeks to cancel Rydale title deeds.

ZVIMBA Rural District Council (ZRDC) is planning to cancel title deeds of thousands of properties in Rydale Ridge Park suburb on the outskirts of Harare, claiming that these were obtained using fraudulent documents.
This emerged in a High Court case in which the local authority is suing the Registrar of Deeds and Rydale Ridge Park (Pvt) Limited, a private property development firm that serviced and sold the residential stands, seeking cancellation of the title deeds some of which were issued a decade ago.
Rydale Ridge Park is located near Lake Chivero on the outskirts of Harare, just before Norton.
The title deeds under contention were issued after the local authority’s former chief executive officer (CEO) sanctioned issued clearance to the developer to do so.
The local authority claimed in its urgent court application that its former CEO, who issued the clearance certificates from 2007, had been incompetent, resulting in his failure to detect that the developer had based its application on a forged certificate of compliance.
Justice Felistas Chatukuta, however, dismissed the urgent court application on the basis that it did not meet the requirements of an urgent application, as well as on the basis that people who could be affected the most by this drastic decision had not been enjoined to the application.
The judge refused to accept the ZRDC’s argument that the matter became urgent after its new CEO discovered the anomaly this year, when the authority had been facilitating the issuance of these title deeds for ten years.
In April this year, Rydale Ridge Park (Pvt) Limited applied for rates clearance certificates on behalf of some of its clients who had completed the purchase of their properties. It was at this stage that the new ZRDC CEO refused to issue the certificates, demanding that the firm submits a parallel development permit, a subdivision permit and proof of payment for endowment fees.
This prompted the developer to file an application in the High Court seeking an order compelling the local authority to issue the certificates. The order was granted on August 2, 2017.
On August 4, 2017 the ZRDC filed its own urgent court application to get the court to order the Registrar of Deeds to cancel all the title deeds that it had issued to property owners in Rydale Ridge Park.
“The applicant cannot, by any stretch of imagination successfully contend that the application is urgent when it has been issuing rates clearance certificates to the second respondent for the past 10 years” Justice Chatukuta ruled.
“The parties were in agreement that a rates clearance certificate is a prerequisite for the transfer of property from a seller to a purchaser. In issuing the certificate, a local authority will in essence be authorising transfer of the property. For 10 years the applicant has been authorising transfers to numerous purchasers of stands in the Rydale Ridge Park suburb. Any diligent local authority ought to have inquired as far back as 2007 whether or not the second respondent had a valid certificate of compliance. The lack of diligence of previous chief executive officers cannot not be a basis for suggesting that the need to act only arose when the current chief executive officer took office,” the judge said.
The judge noted that even after purportedly discovering this anomaly in April, the ZRDC had continued issuing the certificates only to file a court application three months later claiming that it was urgent.
“However, it is necessary to observe that it is apparent that the relief sought by the applicant both in the interim and in the finale has far reaching consequences as it affects rights of persons not before the court. Such persons may include innocent third, if not fourth parties who may have purchased the stands from the second respondent’s purchasers. A determination of this application in the absence of those persons would be clearly contrary to rules of natural justice.”
The judge dismissed the application and awarded the costs to the respondents on a higher scale as a sign of the court’s displeasure at the abuse of court processes by the ZRDC and its lawyers.
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