Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa

Edited by: Ben Cousins, Lauren Royston, Rosalie Kingwill, Donna Hornby

A title deed = tenure security. Or does it? This book challenges this simple equation and its apparently self-evident assumptions. It argues that two very different property paradigms characterize South Africa. The first is the dominant paradigm of private property, referred to as an 'edifice,' against which all other property regimes are measured and ranked. However, the majority of South Africans gain access to land and housing through very different processes, which this book calls social or off-register tenures. These tenures are poorly understood, a gap Untitled aims to address. Untitled reveals that 'informal' and customary property systems can be well organized, often providing substantial tenure security, but lack official recognition and support. This makes them difficult to service and vulnerable to elite capture. Policy interventions usually aim to formalize these arrangements by issuing title deeds. The case studies in this book, which span both rural and urban contexts in South Africa, examine these interventions and the unintended consequences they often give rise to. Interventions based on an understanding of locally embedded property relations are more likely to succeed than those that attempt to transform them into registered tenures. However, emerging practices hit intractable obstacles associated with the 'edifice,' which only a substantial transformation of the legal paradigms can overcome. [Subject: African Studies, Property Rights]

Publication Date: 7/31/2017
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781869143503