Answer to a question from a reader

Can I get a title deed if I only have proof of purchase, and can I build and rent out a house?

The short answer

You have a land right in terms of IPILRA of 1996. Development depends on the zoning rules of your area.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My grandfather and about 40 others bought a piece of land in our village in 1940. I have a proof of purchase but not a title deed. Am I allowed to live on the property? And can I build a house to rent out?

The long answer

Although you do not have a title deed, which is the legal proof of ownership, the proof of purchase means that you have a land right in terms of the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA) of 1996. Practically speaking, I think you would be considered an owner of the land, even without the title deed, but it would be wise to find out how you could convert the proof of purchase to a title deed.

In a Miltons Matsemela article, the author points out that the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act of 2013 (SPLUMA), which became law in 2015, “requires all provinces and municipalities to pass provincial and local laws to govern land use and land development in their provinces and municipalities within 5 years … It does however not specifically state that before a property can be transferred, a certificate to confirm approved building plans and zoning is required.”

What SPLUMA says most clearly is that all municipalities have to develop procedures for how land development should take place. There are four different residential zones that apply to what you can build on your land and how many buildings can be erected. 

From an article by Property24 in 2018 on Residential Zoning:

Residential 1: This density stipulation allows for only one dwelling per erf – a house with a permitted coverage of 40% of the total erf size, including outbuildings and garages. Regardless of whether it is a single or double-storey home, the 40% footprint applies.

Residential 2: This category allows for a density of between 10 and 20 dwellings per 10,000sqm and it is, therefore, the preferred zoning for cluster or townhouse developments.

Residential 3: Allows for a density of between 21 and 40 dwellings per 10 000sqm which is ideal for secure estates and larger cluster complexes.

Residential 4: This zoning permits a density of between 41 and 120 dwellings per 10 000msqm and therefore is most commonly applied for when constructing blocks of flats.

But to quote from the Polokwane land planning document:

“A ‘RESIDENTIAL BUILDING’ – Means a building, other than a ‘dwelling unit’, group housing, hotel, flat and institution, that is designed for and used as a boarding house, residential club, hostel, residential hotel, Commune or rooms to let. The rooms within or forming part of a residential building does not include any kitchen of their own.

“‘ADDITIONAL DWELLING UNIT’ – Means a second dwelling unit, or such number of additional dwelling units as determined by the policy of the local authority.”

So, depending on the zoning that applies to your particular area, you might well be able to build a house and double-storey rooms on your property. That may or may not be a “primary right” in terms of which the owner does not have to seek further permission from the Council.

The only way you can safely find out what zoning applies to your farm and what you are allowed to build and under which regulations is by going to the municipality and asking them what applies to your farm.

The Elias Motsoaledi Municipality (Groblersdal) is probably the one you should see. These are their contact details:

Tel: 013 262 3056

Address: 2 Grobler Avenue,


Wishing you the best,

Answered on Aug. 15, 2022, 12:46 p.m.

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