Answer to a question from a reader

If I settle on municipal land, can I negotiate with the municipality to buy it later?

The short answer

No, it's illegal - the municipality would consider this as land invasion.

The long answer

Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to settle on municipal land with a view to buy it later. The municipality would regard that as a “land invasion” – occupying the land illegally – and would probably get a court interdict to have you evicted.

It is possible to buy or rent municipal land if the municipality has decided that it doesn’t need that particular land for supplying basic services. But it is a long, complicated procedure. You would begin by filling out an application form to rent or buy the land in question and paying a non-refundable application fee, which in Cape Town is R2,625. Your application would then be circulated to all departments in the municipality for comment, and in the end a report would be prepared by the council. If the application was approved, the land would have to be evaluated to ensure that the lease or sale price was in line with current market values. That evaluation would have to be paid for by the person making the application. 

Leasing or buying the land would not mean that you had been given permission to put up any structures on the land. You would still need a separate formal permission to put up structures, and these structures would have to be in line with how the land was zoned. 

Perhaps the best thing would be to go to the municipality and ask them how best to go about leasing or buying municipal land, as all municipalities have their own systems, although they are all required to work according to the Municipal Finance Management Act of 2003.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Nov. 11, 2021, 4:36 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.