Access to housing in South Africa: an overview of dimensions and mechanisms

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • SDG 10
  • SDG 2
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    English: The historical background of influx control, group areas and the regulation of unlawful occupation of land (squatting), explain, to some extent, why unlawful occupation of land and informal settlements are still prevalent 18 years after the new Constitutional dispensation commenced. For many people in South Africa, access to land is still an ideal and not a reality. Not only have the “three pillars of apartheid” contributed to the dismal current state of affairs, but the multi-faceted and multi-dimensional nature of access to housing has also contributed to it being particularly complex. In this regard a human rights, a land reform and a property law dimension can be identified. The human rights dimension is imbedded in socio-economic rights and is founded on dignity; the land reform dimension is based on the premise that access to housing is interlinked with access to land, and the property law dimension involves the development of common law (Roman-Dutch) principles of property and ownership to provide for other (or alternative) forms of ownership. This article aims to provide an overview of the three-dimensional nature of access to housing and to highlight some of the mechanisms encapsulated within each dimension. An overview of statutory measures will be provided and, where relevant, certain aspects will be attended to in more detail. In light of its three-dimensional nature, it is clear that access to housing remains a major challenge for all role players involved.