The first session on ‘Place’ will be an engagement on the nature and roles of informal settlements, general lessons and policy reflections. The debate will include some interesting insights into what role informal settlements and property markets play; what works or doesn't work about them, and for whom; what our formal systems (public, private, development) could do to effectively engage in terms of solution seeking; what some future directions/possibilities are; what are emerging research/policy/action questions, and for whom.


  • Sarah Charlton, University of the Witwatersrand


Informal settlements in Johannesburg: How much do we know?

Marie Huchzermeyer, Aly Karam and Miriam Maina, University of the Witwatersrand

The following is an extract from a draft chapter titled ‘Informal Settlements’ for a forthcoming book on spatial change in Johannesburg edited by Phil Harrison, Alison Todes, Graeme Gotz and Chris Wray. It was presented at the South African Informal City Seminar, 15 November 2011.

Informal settlements have formed an essential part of Johannesburg since its inception, to some extent shaping its development, to a large extent repeatedly displaced by formal development but re-emerging elsewhere. This research focuses on the current informal settlement situation within the municipal boundaries of the City of Johannesburg. It compares the informal settlement data-base of the City of Johannesburg with informal settlements as per the definition adopted by the National Upgrading Support Program (NUSP) (attributed to the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme UISP). Central to NUSP’s definition is that an ‘informal settlement’ exists where housing has been created in an urban or peri-urban location without official approval.

The official and political position on informal settlements in Johannesburg is that this form of residence has been ‘mushrooming’ or ‘ballooning’ over the past decade, that there are over 180 and more recently 189 such settlements in the city and that they are largely unsuited for in situ upgrading, therefore requiring relocation. Using NUSP’s definition of informal settlement, which technically excludes municipal transit areas and formal housing developments, we separated actual informal settlements from other inadequate forms of residence which City of Johannesburg includes in its informal settlement data-base (see Figure 1). As a result, the number of informal settlements drops from 189 to 135. The majority of these 135 settlements were formed pre-2000 and no new informal settlements formed after 2003. In this analysis, the percentage of Johannesburg’s households living in informal settlements is currently below 7.5%.

Informal settlements in Johannesburg remain concentrated in an arc along the city’s western periphery, from Ivory Park in the north east past Diepsloot in the northwest, down to Orange Farm in the far south. This pattern must be understood from a view beyond the City of Johannesburg’s boundary line. On the one hand, the continuation of Johannesburg’s up-market suburban core of northern suburbs into the neighbouring Ekurhuleni Municipality to the east means that no informal settlements established themselves on the City of Johannesburg’s eastern boundary. On the other hand, in three large concentrations, City of Johannesburg’s low income housing areas, all with pockets of informal settlement, form part of a much larger agglomeration of such low income development. Orange Farm’s development continues across the Johannesburg border seamlessly into Evaton, Ivory Park into Thembisa, and Ebumandini (to the west) into Kagiso (see Figure 2). A further large low income housing concentration just outside the City boundary is Olievenoutbosch, directly to the north. Only one informal settlement itself crosses the municipal boundary, this is Chris Hani Extension 4 settlement, in an area spanning Ivory Park and Thembisa.

This research shows that growth in informal settlements is mostly punctual (restricted to specific areas) and spatially follows the strongest trends in formal up-market residential expansion with its domestic employment demands. Our finding is also that the majority the informal settlements in Johannesburg are characterized by low density and an orderliness in their layouts. This usually mirrors formal layouts in the surrounding. Low density and orderly layouts make these settlements more amiable to in-situ upgrading. Some, however, are on private land. The City and the Province consider this an obstacle to in situ upgrading.

One of the main findings is that Johannesburg’s informal settlement situation is less dramatic than generally assumed, but also more complex. The analysis challenges political rhetoric, official data and the City’s intervention programs for informal settlements. We call, instead, for a more differentiated understanding of the situation, which, in our analysis, may pave the way for actual in situ upgrading.

The research raises concern less with informal settlement growth than with large concentrations of informal settlement, often dating back to the transition from apartheid to ANC-led government, that have seen little if any improvement over the past decade. This calls into question, not only the suitability of the City’s informal settlement intervention program, but also the rationale behind the City’s spatial investment planning over this period, a theme that is carried through several chapters in this book.

The research raises concern less with informal settlement growth than with large concentrations of informal settlement, often dating back to the transition from apartheid to ANC-led government, that have seen little if any improvement over the past decade. This calls into question, not only the suitability of the City’s informal settlement intervention program, but also the rationale behind the City’s spatial investment planning over this period, a theme that is carried through several chapters in this book.

Kya Sands Informal Settlement: Vulnerability and Resilience

Dylan Weakley, University of the Witwatersrand

This article is a brief summary of a presentation done at the SA Informal City Seminar on 15 November 2011. It is based on or taken directly (in parts) from research undertaken by Dylan Weakley for his master’s degree . The research was funded by the NRF through the provision of a bursary. While this is the case, the views reported in this article do not necessarily represent those of the NRF. More detailed information on Kya Sands can also be found at the website set up as part of the Masters research mentioned above at

Kya Sands Informal Settlement: Limited Government Action Related to Resilience

Kya Sands is an informal settlement located in Region A of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ). It is informal as per Karam and Huchzermeyer’s definition of informal settlements being those settlements that were not planned by nor have formal permission to exist from government. Having said this, the definition is a bit crude in terms of this work and parts of the settlement may not fit this definition entirely. This is in that some residents were placed in certain sections of the settlement by the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, arguably giving those residents permission to live there.

Professional Mobile Mapping reports that the settlement is made up of 16,238 people living in 5,325 dwellings . If accurate, this is a very high number, giving a population density of 104,089.7/km2 (1,040.9/ha), similar to that of Kibera Informal Settlement in Nairobi, Kenya .

On 15 November 2006, a mayoral road show visited Kya Sands informal settlement. These road shows are a form of public participation that allow residents to communicate directly with the top management of the CoJ. From this visit, and due to the "appalling conditions that were found on site" the mayor set up a task team made up of the city's Development Planning, Urban Management and Housing departments to come up with long and short term strategies to address the "health and safety risks confronting the community" .

While short term interventions have been fairly successful in delivering basic services, no long term interventions have been implemented to date with no action in sight. This has resulted in numerous service delivery protests in Kya Sands, with the most recent coinciding with Human Rights Day, 21 March, 2012 . This is a tangible example of Huchzermeyer’s argument that despite progressive policy being in place regarding informal settlement intervention (such as in-situ upgrading) effective responses to informal settlements by planning authorities are limited.

The work hypothesises that one reason for this (among others proposed by Huchzermeyer e.g. ), relates to the type of resilience displayed by formal government structures, as well as their perception of resilience. Formal planning authorities display the opposite type of resilience to informal settlements (if indeed it could be represented on a simple continuum). Government structures show mainly equilibrist resilience, making them stable and not easily knocked off their state of stability. At the same time however, they lack the type of resilience shown by informal settlements being evolutionary/transformative resilience or adaptability to the changing urban context, shown by their limited success in effectively engaging informal settlements.

Also, just as planning authorities display equilibrist resilience; it is their mind-set of what resilience is. Huchzermeyer describes this by saying "[t]he inherent, although fragile, abilities of informally established settlements to respond to the demands of urban poverty have been officially ignored" . By failing to recognise the evolutionary resilience displayed by informal settlements, planning authorities inherently view informality as vulnerability. Here, the first step in engaging informal settlements is usually some sort of formalisation. This is an attempt by planning authorities firstly to make the two more compatible with one another (the authority and informal settlement) to allow engagement and secondly to start building the type of resilience that formal structures can relate to.

Thus, this research argues that in order for planning authorities to effectively engage with informal settlements, the inherent resilience contained by these informal settlements can no longer be ignored. To this end, the research looks to investigate this resilience in Kya Sands and report it in a way that planning authorities can respond to. At the same time, it is clear that vulnerability to certain hazards exists in informal settlements, and that this too needs investigation, with findings guiding authorities’ response.

Data regarding vulnerability and resilience in Kya Sands was collected through an interview process with residents in January 2012. Sixty residents were interviewed in total in interviews lasting an average of half an hour each. These were systematically geographically spread across the settlement in order to allow responses to be located in space and mapped. Findings from the work are currently being written up, and it is hoped that the thesis will be completed before the end of 2012. Preliminarily, findings indicate that the main resilience Kya Sands provides its residents is access to the city that they are effectively formally excluded from. This access is largely to the economic opportunities of the city, but includes other amenities such as access to healthcare and schooling and to social networks in the city. Kya Sands provides a viable entry point to the city for the poor that is actually affordable (sometimes free) and not limited by regulatory systems. At the same time, dangers such as crime, fire and flooding and poor living conditions are realities in the settlement. So while these need to be addressed, the process of doing so should not erase the resilience that the settlement provides for its residents, and the reasons it was established in the first place.

National Development Plan: Vision for 2030

Prof Philip Harrison, SA Research Chair in Development Planning & Modelling


The President appointed the Commission in May 2010 to draft a vision and plan for the country. The Commission is advisory - only Cabinet can adopt a development plan.

On 9 June 2011 we released a diagnostic document and elements of a vision statement; and on 11 November, we release the vision statement and the plan to the country for consideration.

Values of our Constitution are entrenched in the plan, such as:

  • Social solidarity and pro-poor policies
  • Non racialism, non-sexism (SA belongs to all who live in it)
  • The need to redress the ills of the past

Thandi’s life chances:

Thandi is an 18-year old girl who completed matric in 2010. Let us look at her life chances:

There is a 13% chance that Thandi will get a pass to enter university. BUT she is an African female so, for Thandi, the chance of getting a university pass is actually 4%.

Let us assume that Thandi passed matric but did not go to university:

  • Her chances of getting a job in the 1st year are 13%
  • Her chances of getting a job in the first 5 years out of school are 25%
  • Her chances of earning above the median income (about R4 000 a month) are 2%
  • Chances are that Thandi will not get a job in the 5 years after school, and for the rest of her life she will receive periodic work for a few months here and there
  • Chances are that Thandi will remain below the poverty line of R418 a month for her entire life until she finally gets a pension.

Figure 1: School enrolment and matric passes 1999 to 2010

Grade 1: Reflects over enrolment
Grade 12: 46% drop out rate before grade 12
School leavers: 13% get exemptions, 12% diploma entrance

1. The Diagnostic:

2. The Plan:

The broad diagnostic in the NPC was carried forward into a more specific diagnostic in relation to spatial arrangements which is structured around five story lines.

Transform urban and rural spaces:

  • Move from directly providing houses to:
    • Fixing the gap in the housing market
    • Strengthening local and community-based planning capacity
    • Facilitating provision of a full range of housing types
  • Ramp up public transport infrastructure significantly
  • Support local incentives to move jobs to townships
  • Shift more resources to upgrading informal settlements
  • Introduce a mechanism to capture part of the increased value of public investment for the public good
  • Facilitate security of tenure (especially for women) in rural areas
  • Address fragmentation in spatial planning

Five story lines in relation to space:

  1. Spatial dislocations at a national scale
  2. The challenges facing towns and cities
  3. The uncertain prospects of rural areas
  4. Challenges of providing housing and basic services and reactivating communities
  5. Weak spatial planning and governance capabilities


  1. Spatial dislocations at a national scale:
    • A relatively well balanced spatial structure in one respect but deeply dysfunctional in another
    • Entrenched spatial patterns that require multi-dimensional responses
    • Some shifts since 1994 (e.g. the rising prominence of Gauteng)
    • The environmentally destructive nature of spatial development patterns
    • Urban-rural dependencies
  2. The challenges facing towns and cities:
    • Complex trends – centralisation and decentralisation (opportunities at all scales)
    • Slower urban growth
    • The ‘ring of fire’ around the metros
    • Little progress in reversing apartheid geography
    • The major shift to public transport is yet to happen
    • Ecological limits to growth emerging
    • Towns and cities are not productive enough (even metro growth is disappointing)
  3. The uncertain prospects of rural areas:
    • The importance of rural areas understated in the national accounting system
    • South Africa’s peculiarity – a very small percentage actively involved in agriculture
    • Agriculture’s prospects in the short to medium term uncertain but rural areas cannot indiscriminately be written off as significant growth dynamics and potentials in certain areas
    • Key spatial issues include: rural differentiation, infrastructure type and location, spatial dimensions of land reform, Local systems of food production and distribution
  4. Challenges of providing housing and basic services and reactivating communities:

    Since this story line relates specifically to the theme of the workshop, it is elaborated below in more detail than the others.

    Citizens in South Africa do engage the state in various ways, including through democratic process, the use of the media, and the now common ‘service delivery protests’. However, the model for service delivery entrenched after 1994 has not incentivised active participation in all areas of development and runs the risk of producing a dependent and inactive citizenry. Households and communities have become passive recipients of government delivery. Many It is fair to say that many households are no longer actively seeking their own solutions or finding ways to partner with government to improve their neighbourhoods. Although government has a clear responsibility to provide services, alternative policies of service provision are needed that satisfy popular expectations, while building active citizenship and expanding citizen capabilities.

    The problem of dependency is most severely represented in housing. Many households have benefited from houses provided by the capital subsidy programme, but the harsh reality is that the housing backlog is now greater than it was in 1994. New approaches are needed, with individuals and communities taking more responsibility for providing their own shelter. but with the state still playing an active role in supporting household initiative and in developing the public environments and the public infrastructure that is needed to produce sustainable neighbourhoods.

    The capital subsidy programme has had unintended consequences and re-enforced apartheid geography. Financing has mostly focused on individual houses and ignored public spaces. To stretch limited subsidies, public and private developers often sought out the cheapest land, which is usually in the worst location. The capital subsidy regime has also generally resulted in uniform housing developments, which do not offer a range of housing and tenure types to support the needs of different households. It has also failed to meet the needs of a large segment of the population that requires rental houses, forcing many into backyard shacks on private properties.

    The commission is of the view that public funding should therefore be directed towards the development of public infrastructure and public spaces that would significantly improve the quality of life of poor communities who cannot afford private amenities. Increasingly, government should take on an enabling role in relation to housing. Some form of subsidy may still be required, as the vast majority of South Africa’s population is unable to access private financing, but this subsidy should also support community and individual initiatives and the development of well located sustainable communities.

    The commission acknowledges the positive direction that human settlement policy has taken since the introduction of the Breaking New Ground policy in 2004. The policy suggested “utilising housing as an instrument for the development of sustainable human settlements, in support of spatial restructuring”. Breaking New Ground argued forcefully for better located housing projects, more diverse housing forms, informal settlement upgrading, accrediting municipalities for housing delivery, and linking job creation and housing. This approach was reinforced recently with the creation of a Department of Human Settlements and with the President’s Delivery Agreement on ‘Sustainable Human Settlements and Improved Quality of Household Life’ (Outcome 8).

    Particularly important elements of Outcome 8 are: the commitment to upgrade 400 000 households in well located informal settlements with the assistance of the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP); the emphasis on affordable rental accommodation; and, the mobilization of well located land (especially state-owned land) for affordable housing. The commission believes that the full implementation of Outcome 8 will make a major contribution to shifting housing delivery from its focus on providing a single form of accommodation to meeting a diversity of housing needs.

    However, there are further shifts that are needed and there are urgent matters relating to implementation that must be resolved:

    • Target setting in municipalities and provinces still focuses mainly on delivering numbers rather than dealing systematically with the deficiencies in the implementation system and producing viable human settlements.
    • The capital subsidy remains a very limited instrument for achieving objectives of human settlement strategy, especially the need for better located settlements with a diverse range of housing and tenure types, and high quality public environments.
    • Despite the new focus on informal settlement regularization and upgrading at national level, there is still a high level of ambivalence towards informal settlements across spheres of government, and the capacity and implementation mechanisms to achieve the national objectives are still poorly developed locally.
    • Despite a BNG emphasis on affordable inner city housing as part of a broader urban renewal strategy, municipalities have continued to focus attention on housing developments on ‘greenfields’ where targets are more easily met. Inner cities have continued to develop as a mix of slum-lording for the low income sector and exclusive developments for the wealthier in scattered pockets of urban regeneration.
    • Financing and regulatory arrangements have hindered household mobility, fixing residents within specific places at a time when the spatial circumstances of households (e.g. places of work and schooling) change regularly.
  5. Weak spatial planning and governance capabilities:
    • South Africa’s intergovernmental system of spatial planning has been slow to develop and coordination has often been poor
    • Impossible to undertake cross-border planning
    • Spatial planning is dispersed across national ministries
    • Provincial land-use management functions overlap with municipalities, creating confusion and conflict
    • Ambiguity and contest around the developmental role of traditional authorities
    • Sound spatial governance requires strong professionals and mobilised communities

Six major proposals

  1. PROPOSAL 1: Develop a national spatial framework
  2. PROPOSAL 2: Strengthen the spatial planning system
  3. PROPOSAL 3: Start a national conversation about cities, towns and villages
  4. PROPOSAL 4: Bolder measures to make sustainable human settlements
  5. PROPOSAL 5: Support rural spatial development
  6. PROPOSAL 6: Build an active citizenry to rebuild local place and community


  1. Develop a national spatial framework:
    • A national spatial fund
    • A national observatory for spatial data assembly and analysis.
    • An interdepartmental spatial coordination committee in the Presidency
    • An approach premised on spatial differentiation
    • Spatial targeting


    • National competitiveness corridor
    • Nodes of competitiveness
    • Rural restructuring zones
    • Resource critical regions (ecosystem lifelines)
    • Special intervention areas:
      • Job intervention zones
      • Growth management zones
      • Green economy zones
  2. Strengthen the spatial planning system:
    • A major system review followed by legislation (by 2016) to resolve the current fragmentation in the planning system
    • Translate plans into spatial contracts
    • Provision for cross-boundary plans
    • City-region wide co-ordination of planning
    • Possible regionalisation of planning and service delivery
  3. Start a national conversation about cities, towns and villages:
    • ‘Unleashing citizen’s popular imagination, creative thinking and energies is fundamental to tackling the formidable challenges and opportunities that settlements face’.
    • ‘To achieve this, the media (radio, television, newspapers and new social media) and civil society organisations could stimulate a conversation at national and local levels about neighbourhoods, towns and cities’.
    • ‘Broad debates around urban and rural futures should be complemented with focused conversations on specific issues’.
  4. Bolder measures to make sustainable human settlements:
    • A coherent and inclusive approach to land
    • Radically revise the housing finance regime
    • Revise the regulations and incentives for housing and land use management
    • Recognise the role played by informal settlements and enhance the existing national programme for informal settlement upgrading by developing a range of tailored responses to support their upgrade
    • Support the transition to environmental sustainability

    Some of the more specific measures may include:

    • Move from directly providing houses to:
      • Fixing the gap in the housing market
      • Strengthening local and community-based planning capacity
      • Facilitating provision of a full range of housing types
      • Ramp up public transport infrastructure significantly
      • Support local incentives to move jobs to townships
      • Shift more resources to upgrading informal settlements
      • Introduce a mechanism to capture part of the increased value of public investment for the public good
      • Facilitate security of tenure (especially for women) in rural areas
  5. Support rural spatial development:
    • Guiding principles for provision of infrastructure in rural areas
    • Land reform programmes should reflect the importance of location and connectivity for farm viability.
    • Investigate and respond to shifting settlement patterns
    • Small town development strategy
    • Spatial interventions to support agricultural development
  6. Build an active citizenry to rebuild local place and community:
    • Properly funded, citizen-led neighbourhood vision and planning processes
    • Public works programmes should be tailored to community building and local needs
    • Citizenship education and training to strengthen community organisation, planning and project management skills and competences
    • Local arts, culture and heritage precincts
    • Forums for dialogue and liaison should be established at neighbourhood and municipal levels (e.g. to address migrant exclusion)


These proposals are contained in a draft plan that has been presented to the public and will be the basis of intense dialogue with stakeholders. We have an opportunity over the next few months to improve the analysis and improve the plan, and we request all individuals and agencies that have an interest in spatial transformation and human settlement to make comments. We need to get this right.

Study on potential interventions in the small scale rental market

Stacey-Leigh Joseph, National Department of Human Settlements

Presentation Outline:

1. Background and motivation
2. Developing a national rental research agenda
3. Definition and Scope for small scale rental research
4. Current context
5. Case studies
6. Preliminary reflections
7. Expected outcomes


The importance and relevance of the rental market is increasingly being recognised in South Africa. However, it remains a poorly understood and under emphasised component of the country’s housing and human settlements response. Though rentals are found all over the world and are occupied by people from a range of sectors in society with varying levels of income, the rental market in South Africa enjoys very limited attention and recognition. Rentals in the higher income private market are considered the norm and a vital part of the housing industry, while rentals in lower income, informal or illegal areas have been an invisible aspect in South Africa’s housing response.1 Yet, it is impossible to ignore the reality any longer of this highly complex sector that is playing a critical role in South Africa’s burgeoning and growing economy and housing market.

As with all housing and shelter related issues in South Africa, the small scale private rental market is nuanced, complex and challenging and will require an approach that takes these aspects into consideration. This research aims to look at the potential opportunities in the rental market that can contribute towards the imperative to develop accessible, affordable and reliable shelter options. While not currently a formal component of government housing policy, the small scale rental market is one area where there is a large amount of potential for scaled up delivery of appropriate shelter, within the context of government’s current scope of housing and settlement delivery in poorer communities, particularly in cities and towns. This study mainly attempts to answer the question of whether or not government should intervene in a specific component of the small scale rental market (backyard rentals) as this is increasingly being identified as a key challenge for particularly the larger municipalities to respond to. In the absence of national policy and guidelines on how to respond to the reality of informal backyard accommodation, these municipalities have attempted to develop their own interventions. The study will reflect on these interventions, the lessons and experiences and extrapolate relevant recommendations for national government on what its response could entail.

1. Background and motivation

South Africa’s current housing backlog - approx 2.4million
Households in rentals – 2.4 million (21% informal)
Rental is becoming the ‘’preferred’’ option both in formal and informal markets
Small scale rental market delivery at scale is on par with government’s provision of subsidised housing
Provides alternative shelter in a complex, nuanced and challenging context

2. Expanding our understanding of the rental market: Developing a national rental research agenda

The Research Directorate within the Department of Human Settlements understands that there is a range of rental types:
a. Rental in informal settlements
b. Inner city rentals
c. Small scale rentals (informal)
d. Social housing
e. Community residential units
f. Municipal rental stock
g. Rent to own
h. Higher end small scale rental

Proposed steps
Overarching framework that will inform a rental programme within DHS;
Development of individual research projects each focussing on the different rental typologies;
Partnerships with municipalities to implement pilots informed by research;
Development of national policy framework and strategies to address various types of rental in SA

This study aims to look at one component of the small scale rental market, namely backyard rentals, and will be one of the individual research projects on the different rental typologies.

3. Definition and scope for small scale rental research

Definition of small scale rental to be addressed
Rental in an informal settlement (undergoing process of regularisation, upgrade )
Renting an informal structure in a formal area
Renting a formal room in a formal area through both informal and formal arrangements
Inner city rental

Scope of study is to address the following:
Should government develop a formal response/intervention to backyards?
If so, what should this look like?
How will this tie in with the current human settlements response?
How will the response/intervention be implemented and what are responsibilities of different spheres?

4. Current context

Despite the existence of numerous policies addressing rental, there is none focusing on informal small scale rentals.
The State tends to focus on home ownership but, for many, rentals are not transitory or temporary – instead they are permanent/long term.
Rental accommodation is considered relatively safe compared to shelter in informal settlements.

The reasons for the massive growth in this market are:
Some access to services
For some only option (incl. non qualifiers, foreign nationals etc)
Generally well located
Sense of tenure security and flexibility
Income for landlords

The challenges faced by tenants and landlords are:
Tenant-landlord relationships
Insufficient access to services and opportunities
Quality of dwelling not always up to standard
Invisibility of backyarders and other users of informal rental options
Factors influencing ability of landlords to formalise or capitilise on opportunities afforded by rental

5. Case studies

Four case studies have been selected: Gauteng and the Western Cape Provincial Governments; and the Cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Gauteng Provincial Government
Introduced pilot programme in 2009 focusing on the upgrade of backyard shelters.
Pilots raised a number of key challenges including shortage of skilled labour, shortage of land and space for upgrade, and insufficient beneficiary education.
The most important challenge experienced was the displacement of tenants after upgrading.
Upgrading did not address the issue of improved access to services.
‘’Double’’ subsidy to landlords who used structure for their own purposes.

Western Cape Provincial Government
Proposed a provincial pilot backyarder programme.
The focus was on ensuring that a percentage of backyarders wasprioritised for new housing.
This initiative drew from the Gauteng programme – subsidy to landlords for upgrade of existing backyard shelters.
Emphasis on compliance in terms of minimum building norms and standards.
Included consultative process with backyarders and emphasis on protection of tenants against displacement.
Following a legal review, the proposed pilot was not implemented due to cost, compliance issues and concerns that it might encounter the same challenges as Gauteng.

City of Cape Town
Proposed intervention strategy to respond to the issue of backyard accommodation connected to city rental stock.
Intention further to improve the conditions in which backyarders live, access to health, safety and services and to introduce measures to protect tenants against arbitrary evictions.
Also focused on the need to recognise the informal rental market as existing alongside government interventions/responses to shelter.
Includes a survey of the current number of backyarders and instituting measures to improve access to basic services including long term plans to upgrade bulk infrastructure.
Potential limitations: only focusing on city rental stock and the study only looks at backyards and not other forms of informal rental.

City of Johannesburg
Faced with increasing pressure to address the issue of backyards and other forms of informal rental, the city has drafted a document focusing on small scale landlordism.
The proposed strategy is to develop an approach to recognise the informal rental market and identify the needs of both landlords and tenants.
The intention is to create an enabling environment for backyard accommodation to grow – through the facilitation and mobilisation of finance.
Incentives for landlords to upgrade structures.
Potential limitations: risk of falling into same trap as Gauteng and, by only focusing on backyards, also possibility of missing opportunity to respond to various types of informal rentals.

6. Preliminary reflections from case studies

Understanding the demographics and motivations within the small scale rental market is extremely important;
Engagement with communities is essential;
More education and awareness raising is necessary (amongst tenants, landlords and policy makers);
Location and access remain critical factors affecting decisions about where people live;
Backyarders and others within the small scale rental market (particularly at the lower, informal end) feel ‘invisible’ and not adequately consulted;
Expanding waiting lists (for housing), without recognising and harnessing the potential of the rental market, is not sufficient;
Improved structures and access to services is critical and interventions to address this should be an important first step;
Government cannot always be an implementer and understanding its enabling or supportive role is important (eg. In terms of providing policy guidelines, regulation where necessary and developing instruments to support the small scale rental market, and engaging with lenders to provide financial support products);
Reviewing municipal by-laws is one way of attempting to create a more enabling environment to support small scale landlords;
Bulk infrastructure investment and upgrading is another important intervention to support this market.

7. Expected outcomes

Partnership with metros and provinces to support and ‘regulate’ the small scale rental market.
Proposed rental pilot project with one metro to test an alternative response to supporting the small scale rental market.
Framework to inform small scale rental policy and potential national response.


This study is one step in a long term process aimed at improving our understanding and recognition of the rental market in South Africa. The study, together with a number of additional studies all focus on the various typologies of the rental market, will form part of an overall rental research agenda and framework currently being developed within the Research Directorate of the National Department of Human Settlements. It is envisaged that this research will over time inform a detailed and comprehensive human settlement response at National level that recognises and supports the rental market and maximises the opportunities for shelter that it presents.