Consolidation means combining, merging, or joining two or more properties that border one another, which is done by appointing a town planner. The Town planners will advise property owners on the process to consolidate whereafter he or she lodges the consolidation application with the relevant municipality for their perusal and consideration.

Consolidation

One of the requirements for a successful consolidation application is that the properties are registered in the same name of a person or company and that the zoning and development controls of the said properties are exactly the same. Should this not be the case, the consolidation application will not be approved by the Municipality to which it is lodged.   

Consolidation of properties require a cadastral survey (A cadastral survey contains the technical information of a cadastral survey such as dimensions, area, and exact descriptions of all borders and property lines as well as information concerning land use data, the parcel’s ownership, both current and historical, and its position).

Once the consolidation application is approved by the relevant council, the Land Surveyor will submit the required diagram to the Surveyor-General’s Office, for approval. Once the diagram is approved, the Conveyancing attorneys will step in and assist the property owner in registering a title deed which is subject to the consolidated property. This is done through a Certificate of Consolidated Title.

The bondholder over the property needs to consent to the consolidation before the application can be submitted to Council, for consideration. A problem that may arise in this respect is where a property proposed for consolidation has a bond registered over it which is dissimilar. This will subsequently cause the application to fail. To rectify this failure, a new bond will need to be registered over the consolidated property, and the process will then begin anew.

Rezoning

Rezoning means to change a use zone to allow for certain land use rights on a property (residential, business). Regulations that relate to rezoning determines the use and development of certain properties. These rules and regulations come into use when owners of properties want to use or develop properties in ways that are not in line with the current zoning regulations. If this is the case, a town planner will need to be appointed. The town planner will then apply for rezoning with the Local Municipality. This application consists of a request to change or rezone the current zoning of the property in question.

Prior to a property owner deciding to rezone a property, it is crucial to first approach a town planner, who in turn will check the policies of the Council, relevant to that area, to ascertain whether Council will allow such use/zoning within that specific area and on that specific property.

Local Municipalities have various policies i.e. Reginal Spatial Development Frameworks, Spatial Development Framework Policies, Density Policies, Precinct Plans, Town Planning Schemes etc. which stipulates which uses will be considered in which areas.

Every property within South Africa will have its unique certificate stating which zoning class the property falls within. Each Municipality has zoning regulations/town planning schemes that need to be adhered to in each area or suburb in which the property in question will fall. A property will either fall within the category of residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial, or mixed-use etc….to name a few. Within each zoning category, there are further subcategories that indicate the allowable development controls which consist of dimensions such as maximum height, coverage, building lines, density, and floor area, uses permitted with consent use, to name a few.

It is common for property owners to apply for rezoning to allow the operation of a business from their primary residence. This application once again will be lodged at the Municipality who will consider the application according to the town planning scheme of that local authority, policies for that specific area, availability of services, surrounding area, consent from surrounding owners/rate payers associations etc This application is a long-winded and sometimes complicated one that can take 3-12 months to approve (depending in which local authority the property is located). Another factor that property owners need to consider before launching this application is the cost which is involved.  This is not a cheap process.

Appointing a Town Planner is a crucial part of the process and is recommended to ensure that the application follows the correct protocol and has the highest chances of being successful. This process is also rather complex and can be out of reach for the common lay-person to do on their own without professional assistance.

The rezoning of property often happens when an investor wants to make a profit, which means that the property can be used for commercial purposes after it was residential property, or that residential land can be used for group buildings (residential units or townhouses).

Written by Shannon Smith (Candidate Attorney at Bruno Simão Attorneys)

Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as legal advice and Bruno Simão Attorneys shall not accept any responsibility and/or liability for any harm, damage, loss and/or claims which you may suffer. You are encouraged to seek legal advice which is particular to your circumstances.