The basics of subdividing

The assistance of a land surveyor is key to ensuring lawful procedure. Altus Strydom, chairperson of the South African Geomatics Institute, spoke to Gerhard Uys.

The basics of subdividing:
Subdividing your land might appear straightforward, but there are technical and legal complexities involved. Expert help is essential.
Photo: FW Archive

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) administers the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act No. 70 of 1970. Subdivision of agricultural land, therefore, requires DAFF’s consent.

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However, the recent past has seen a major change in legislation to obtain consent for subdivision.

The Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA), which came into operation in July 2015, holds that all subdivision applications must also be submitted to municipalities for consideration.

Furthermore, neither Act 70 of 1970 nor SPLUMA exempt an applicant from the need to also obtain consent in terms of other laws that regulate subdivision, such as the Roads and Ribbon Development Act and the National Roads Act.

Under the new approach, the subdivision of a farm and an urban erf are treated in the same way.

The subdivision process
Subdivision involves three phases: feasibility investigation and obtaining letters of consent; the actual subdivision; and the transfer of the subdivided property.

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For the first phase, you would be well advised as the owner of the property to appoint a professional land surveyor. Although this obviously has financial implications, it helps cut costs and save time in the long run.

The land surveyor can help you steer clear of potential pitfalls and better understand the viability, estimated costs and time-frame for completing the process.

Site survey
The land surveyor establishes whether the property may indeed be subdivided, which consents are required, the minimum property size, and other factors.

Having established the feasibility of subdivision, the surveyor surveys the site, and produces a subdivision plan showing the buildings, servitudes and other pertinent information, and indicating precisely how the land will be subdivided.

He or she then compiles, and formally submits, the application for subdivision, along with all required attachments. The application is then circulated for comments and the letters of approval forwarded to the surveyor.

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The letters of approval are subject to conditions and may refer to amounts payable to the municipality.

After the letters have been received, the surveyor carries out the actual subdivision survey in accordance with the Land Survey Act of 1997, which includes the marking of boundaries.

The diagram and survey records are then lodged at the surveyor-general’s office for examination and approval. As a survey is technically complicated and highly regulated, only a land surveyor is permitted to perform this part of the process.

Once approved by the surveyor-general, certified copies of the diagram are issued for title registration purposes.

Deeds office
After the owner has entered into a deed of sale in respect of the subdivision, or decides to hold the subdivision in a separate title, the third phase begins.

The owner’s conveyancer now corresponds with the land surveyor, bond holder (if applicable) and owner to obtain the necessary documentation.

Once the conveyancer has confirmed that all requirements have been met, application is made to the municipality to resolve any outstanding rates, levies or payments.

The municipality then issues a clearance certificate allowing the applicant to register the subdivision.

The conveyancer drafts the registration documents and obtains supporting documentation.

When all the documents have been signed and costs paid, the conveyancer lodges them at the relevant deeds office for registration. Here they are carefully scrutinised to ensure they are correct and can be registered.

This description is intended as an overview of the process. Requirements and processes may differ from one province or municipality to another. If you are considering a subdivision, it is advisable to contact a land surveyor to help you with specific queries and manage your proposed subdivision efficiently and cost-effectively.

Email Karl van Rensburg, vice-president of cadastral at SAGI, at
[email protected], or visit sagi.co.za.