Check the Zoning regulations before signing an offer to purchase

Check the Zoning regulations before signing an offer to purchase

Private Property South Africa
Sarah-Jane Meyer

Most of South Africa’s megacities encourage densification where possible. This has benefited many property owners who want to subdivide their properties or redevelop their land.

The latest zoning and development rules have streamlined the standardisation of types of development and plots, whereas, in the past, the rules would have been more restrictive. This means that certain areas will have more plots with subdivision rights or the right to develop upwards.

Views

If you are buying a property because of its views or because taller buildings don’t surround it, you should be aware of how nearby buildings could be altered before signing an offer to purchase.

In South African law, there is no legal right to a view. So, suppose there is a chance that the view from the property could be obstructed. In that case, you should find out whether there is a possibility that the owners of surrounding properties could undertake renovations or rebuild in the near future.

Zoning

The various types of zoning on properties vary from single residential (SR) to general residential (GR) and mixed-use rights.

Single residential zone SR1 allows for one dwelling on a property. This applies unless consent has been granted for additional uses such as a second dwelling, a guest house, an educational facility and various other uses. The maximum height of SR1 buildings should be 10m to 11m to the top of the roof, depending on the size of the plot.

With SR1 properties measuring 200m2 to 650m2, neighbours are now allowed to build right up to the adjoining wall without special permission from the local authority. The previous regulations specified that there had to be a 1m gap between the house and the boundary wall, but this no longer applies.

Single residential zone SR2 applies to incremental housing. This can include group housing, boarding houses, places of worship, clinics, places of entertainment and other similar buildings.

In general residential (GR) zones, the maximum height of buildings on a property may be up to 50m to the top of the roof - depending on whether the property is zoned GR1 to GR6. This could certainly intrude on a view or enjoyment of neighbouring properties.

Check

Many suburbs are mainly single residential zones but have some plots listed as general residential – or even commercial. So before you put in an offer, be sure to ask your estate agent about the specific zoning of the surrounding properties.

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