Four Forms of Property Ownership in South Africa

Four Forms of Property Ownership in South Africa

Broadly there are four forms of property ownership in South Africa. In the light of land expropriation without compensation, property owners need to be informed about the various ways to access, own and attain property in South Africa.


Freehold is the legal right to own a piece of property without any limitations on its use (except for what is contained in the Title Deed or Deed of Transfer).

In a freehold or full title property you may modify, extend, alter or change both the interior and exterior of your property provided that it is not prohibited by the conditions outlined in the Title Deed and you have approved building plans.

You can adapt your living areas and land to suit the needs of your family. You are not governed by any laws other than your local municipality.

Sectional title

Sectional title is the separate ownership of units or sections within a complex or development.

Sectional title dwellings comprise mini subtype houses, semi-detached houses, townhouses, flats or apartments, and duet houses.

Owners of sectional title units only need to pay for their rates and taxes, the unit’s insurance, the contents of their home, their own private gardens and for their monthly electricity and water consumption.


Leasehold properties are usually owned by the government or local authority. Unlike freehold title, leasehold is not full ownership.

Under leasehold title, a leaseholder has the right to use and enjoy a property for the period of the lease. With the consent of the owner, the leaseholder may sublet the property, renovate it or add to it.

Long-term lease

A long-term lease entitles the lessee to a limited real right over a property for an agreed period of time ranging from 10 years to 99 years.

A long-term lease, with all the terms of the agreement, is registered and an endorsement is made against the property’s title deed in the Deeds Registry. This affords both the lessee and the lessor security in terms of the real rights and obligations afforded to each party as a result of the agreement.

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