How the Spatial Planning Land Use Management Act Affects Property Transfers in South Africa

The Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act of 2013 (SPLUMA) which was gazetted in 2015, has made it possible to create a framework for policy development, spatial planning on all levels, and land use management in South Africa.

Zoning forms an integral part of spatial planning. However, it has been the topic of much debate since many people have raised the concern that it creates exclusivity and makes it difficult for poorer communities to stay close to their places of work. Although past practices may have caused issues, such as long travel time from home to work and school, the modern approach to zoning is more focused on the creation of sustainable urban areas. This makes it possible to have mixed-use zones where residential housing is often close to places of work and transport hubs to reduce the time it takes to get to and from work.

See the video from the South African Council for Planners that explains SPLUMA as relevant to sustainable land use management and spatial planning in South Africa.

How does SPLUMA affect development property registrations in South Africa?

The Act affects every property seller involved with land developments in South Africa. It is, especially relevant for sectional title scheme applications. Developers take note that the National Deeds Office will only commence with a development property registration or transfer of ownership, such as a sectional title scheme development, when a SPLUMA certificate from the local municipality has been submitted.

How Does it Affect Current Land Use Management in South Africa?

Every municipality in South Africa must establish a land-use scheme in compliance with the requirements of SPLUMA. It must be done within five years from the date of the gazetting of the Act. This means that from 2020, all municipalities in the country must already have established their land use scheme plans according to the Act’s requirements.

What is Needed to Obtain a SPLUMA Certificate?

In terms of the SPLUMA, to get a certificate as required for property transfer, the following must be up to date, submitted where relevant, and confirmed:

• Rates and taxes relevant to the property must be paid up to date.
• The property seller must submit an affidavit at the relevant municipality office in which the seller declares that all the plans for the property are correct.
• Building plans of all structures on the property, inclusive of swimming pools, must be submitted.
• No buildings or structures encroach the building lines.
• The property’s use must be in compliance with the zoning regulations for the area and the property.

Development property owners must ensure that the above-mentioned requirements are met if they wish to receive the SPLUMA certificate to allow for property transfer. Since it takes time to get the certificate, it is essential to find out if all the requirements are met before the owner markets their property as for sale. To this end, the property owner can approach town planners to help with confirmation of the property zoning and compliance with zoning regulations.

One needs to keep in mind that SPLUMA provides the national framework, but each municipality still has its own by-laws aligned with the framework. The requirements thus differ from municipality to municipality. It is imperative to work with town planners right from the start should you wish to sell development land or apply for a sectional title scheme approval. The town planners work with land use management applications in South Africa and are familiar with the processes for each of the municipalities.

What is Meant with Development Land?

SPLUMA does not affect all property transfers. Properties affected include sectional title schemes and development properties. Section 53 of the Act deals with this issue. Accordingly, land development as discussed in Section 1 of the Act, refers to land where use of it is changed. This includes township establishment, consolidation or sub-division of the property.

Need More Information?

View the SPLUMA Act of 2013 for detailed information on which properties are affected. The authors of a legal brief titled “SPLUMA certificate confusion” published 5 May 2020, further explain the requirements and affected properties in detail.

Where to Get Town Planning Help

We offer an extensive range of town planning services in South Africa, including help with land consolidation, sub-division, zoning, township establishment and related land use management applications. View our range of services here. Get in touch for professional town planning help.