Real Estate Law

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South African property law provides for various types of registered land title including freehold title, sectional title, and long lease. Ownership may be held by a natural person, partnership, company, close corporation, trust, association, or any other recognised entity. The country has one of the finest land registration systems in the world. The precise location, status and identity of any given surveyed land parcel are unquestionable, contributing to secure land ownership.

Ownership by foreign legal entities is subject to certain restrictions, notably those contained in the Companies Act, No. 71 of 2008.

Save for some formalities contained in various laws, including the Alienation of Land Act, No. 68 of 1969 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No. 85 of 1993, South African law does not prescribe the form or content of an agreement of sale of land. All disposals of immovable property are subject to transfer duty or VAT. Real security may be gained from encumbering land with a mortgage bond(s).

Transferring ownership or limited real rights over land requires the registration of a deed under the Deeds Registries Act, No. 47 of 1937. The registration process is driven by attorneys who have qualified as conveyancers. The average time to register a transaction once a deed of sale has been signed and has become unconditional is between two to four months.

Pertinent developments in real estate law include the:

  • new Real Estate Investment Trusts tax dispensation, which aims to align the country's listed property sector;
  • Expropriation Bill, which seeks to expedite land reform in South Africa;
  • Property Valuation Bill which provides for the appointment of a valuer general and the valuation of land identified for land reform, for expropriation, or for acquisition by the State; and
  • proposed amendment to the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, which will extend the time frame within which claims for restitution can be made

“South African property law provides for various types of registered land title including freehold title, sectional title, and long lease.”

For a comprehensive document outlining the implications of this area of law in South Africa
click here.​

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