Gert is a specialist Conveyancer based at our Illovo office. He worked at the Pretoria Deeds Office from 1985 until 1989 and after becoming a Senior Examiner left to qualify as an Attorney and Conveyancer in 1992. As manager of our Gauteng Development Law Unit Gert focuses on the establishment of townships and all the conveyancing work required to initiate and complete developments, whether it may be an upmarket sectional title, cluster or housing development. He enjoys finding practical solutions to complicated conveyancing problems. Gert serves on the committee of the South African Affordable Residential Developers Association (SAARDA), a body representing the interests of developers and other stakeholders in the affordable housing development sector which necessitates regular collaboration with government and municipal officials.

Thoughts on township establishment: Opening of a township register

The dreaded letter from the Department of Agriculture for the opening of a township register

One of the final hurdles a township developer in the Gauteng and North-West Provinces must negotiate before the stands in a township become registrable, is the opening of the township register at the Deeds Office in Pretoria in terms of section 46 of the Deeds Registries Act, 1937 (No 47 of 1937). On 7 May 2002, the Chief Registrar of Deeds announced an extra obligation requiring a letter issued by the Department of Agriculture declaring that the land on which the township is established, is not agricultural land, to be submitted to the Deeds Office too.

The procedure to request a letter from the Directorate: Land Use and Soil Management

The township applicant must submit a formal application to the Directorate: Land Use and Soil Management of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development with a request to confirm if the Subdivision of Agriculture Land Act, 1970 (No 70 of 1970) is applicable in respect of the property on which the township was established. The processing of this request or application does not always meet the practical and reasonable expectations of the township applicants, to put it mildly, and this causes unnecessary and unanticipated delays with the opening of township registers and the following development of housing opportunities.

The contents of the letter issued by the Department of Agriculture

This letter, if the land is not subject to the Subdivision of Agriculture Land Act, 1970 (No 70 of 1970), refers to the definition of “agricultural land” as set out in this Act, which defines it in terms of the following exclusions:

  • The above-mentioned property is an agricultural holding in terms of the Agricultural Holdings (Transvaal) Registration Act, 1919 (No 22 of 1919)
  • The above-mentioned property is situated within the municipal boundary of the Municipality prior to 1994.
  • The above-mentioned property is registered in the name of the State. (national, provincial or municipal)

The details of the land situated within the municipal boundary of a municipality prior to 1994 are available at the Directorate: Land Use and Soil Management. If this information can be noted against the affected properties at the Deeds Office the need for this letter will be eliminated. The information regarding the ownership of the land is, in the case of State land, confirmable by the Deeds Office from reference to its own records.

Conclusion

If the Registrar of Deeds dismisses the requirement to submit a letter issued by the Directorate: Land Use and Soil Management, merely confirming the definitions in the Subdivision of Agriculture Land Act, 1970 (No 70 of 1970) with regard to the fact that State land and land situated within the municipal boundary of a municipality prior to 1994 are exempt from the provisions of this Act, before allowing the opening of a township register,  it will allow for one less hurdle to be negotiated by township developers with the opening of township registers and the delivery of housing.

Read the complete article at THE DREADED LETTER FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR THE OPENING OF A TOWNSHIP REGISTER.

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