Four common forms of property ownership you should know

Skyline view of Johannesburg. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Skyline view of Johannesburg. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

In light of land expropriation without compensation, property owners must be informed about the different ways to access, own and attain property.

Land ownership, expropriation of land without compensation and property ownership are issues that have dominated South Africa’s social and economic discourse.

Ongoing engagement between government, diverse communities and interested parties highlights disparities in land and property ownership.

Here are the types of common property ownership you need to know in the midst of this ongoing debate, according to Caxton Central.

ALSO READ: Which land is most likely to be expropriated first?


Freehold tenure is the legal right to own a piece of property without any limitations on its use.

In a freehold or full title property you may modify, extend, alter or change both the interior and exterior of your property and fully express your own taste levels and creativity.

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 council regulations.


Sectional title

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

Sectional title dwellings comprise mini subtype houses, semidetached 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 property is 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.

Photo: Pierce van Heerden

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.

The listed types of ownership should assist you in understanding the differences.

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