Land Rights and Registration
Right to Property
The right to property is enshrined in the bill of rights contained in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act, 1996. Section 25 of the Constitution provides that no one may be deprived of property except in terms of law of general application, and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property. Although South Africa still recognises an historic system of ninety-nine year leasehold, the primary real right in land is that of ownership, akin to the English concept of "freehold" title, and most land in South Africa is privately held by outright ownership.
Registration of Title
South Africa boasts a sophisticated and efficient system of land registration. The Deeds Registries Act, 1937, regulates the registration of rights in land and other immovable property. The transfer of ownership in land is effected by registration in a deeds registry in accordance with the provisions of the Deeds Registries Act. The system is one of registration of title as opposed to a system of registration of deeds, as is found in many western countries.
Land Tenure and Rights in Land
The common law ownership of land includes the ownership of all fixed improvements erected on the land. South African law also recognises separate ownership of buildings or parts of a building. The Sectional Titles Act, 1986, regulates such ownership.
South African law recognises various limited rights in land, the most common of which is the relationship of landlord and tenant. Leases are capable of registration and afford the tenant greater rights than in the case of an unregistered lease. Various servitudes confer personal rights in land, such as the right to use land and/or to enjoy the fruits of land.
Taxes, Duties and Fees
Transactions relating to the acquisition and disposal of land are subject to payment of taxes and duties. Fees are payable to a deeds registry in respect of each transaction registered. Professional fees are also payable to a conveyancer.