What is servitude?

Private Property South Africa
Property Power

An explanation of the two main types of servitudes and how servitudes affect property values.

The Definition of a Servitude

A servitude is a registered right that a person has over the immovable property of another. It allows the holder of the servitude to do something with the other person’s property, which may infringe upon the rights of the owner of that property. An example is the right of way to travel over a section of the other person’s property in order to reach your own property.

How do you know whether there is a servitude registered over a specific property you would like to buy?

If you were to examine the title deed you would be able to ascertain whether there is a servitude registered over the property. If you are unsure of how to examine the title deed, you need to ask your estate agent or conveyancing Attorney to assist you.

There are two main types of servitudes:

  • Praedial servitude, which is when a person has a right of use due to the fact that he is the owner of a certain property. Should he sell the property the servitude can be exercised by/will have to be honoured by the new owner.

  • Personal servitude is a right in favour of a specific individual. This means that when that individual moves on, the servitude falls away. It does not pass on to the new owner if the property is sold.

You do not need to get permission from the person that has a right to exercise a servitude over your property if you want to sell it, however the new owner will have to comply with the servitude.

Servitudes are very common mainly with farms and smallholdings.

NB! The value of your property can be negatively affected by a servitude.

This article originally appeared in Property Power 11th Edition Magazine. To order your copy at the discounted price of R120 click here.

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