Relocations have the potential to severely disrupt peoples’ lives and negatively impact their livelihoods, community relations and sense of security. To make sure this doesn’t happen, the relocation process should be carefully planned, well-run and participatory. SERI developed this set of legal and practical guidelines to assist those involved in the relocation process to navigate the complexities involved in planning for and carrying out a relocation. The guidelines present an approach to relocations based on SERI’s experience in planning and managing relocations to alternative housing and draw on international and local experience. The guidelines offer practical guidance on how to ensure that relocations are carried out in a way that respects the constitutional rights of the people being relocated. This guide was written by Michael Clark and Lauren Royston.
This is a user-friendly guide that explains the rights of farm dwellers and the law in relation to evictions from farmland. It gives advice on how farm dwellers can navigate the legal processes involved in eviction proceedings and practically resist evictions. It is a resource for farm dwellers facing eviction from their homes, as well as for farm worker unions, community-based paralegals and lawyers. The guide was developed by SERI and the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU), and written by Tim Fish Hodgson and Dasantha Pillay.
This guide explains the sale-in-execution process and sets out what steps homeowners can take to avoid their houses being sold in execution. Courts are legally required to make sure that sales-in-execution follow the proper legal process and that the interests of both homeowners and banks are balanced and protected. The laws which regulate sales-in-execution are complex and come from many sources. This guide will help homeowners prevent sales-in-execution before they happen. It will also help homeowners oppose sales in execution if the process to repossess their home is already underway, or if they have already lost their homes. This guide is a resource for individuals and households who are facing the threat of a sale in execution of their homes, as well as for community-based paralegals and lawyers who deal with sales in execution of people’s homes or bank repossessions. This guide was written by Michael Clark.
This guide explains your rights and the law regarding evictions, and gives practical advice on how to resist them. It is a resource for individuals, households and communities who are facing eviction from their homes, as well as for community-based paralegals, CBOs, social movements etc. The guide covers a number of different issues: what is an eviction, what the law says about evictions, when an eviction is unlawful, the lawful process for an eviction, how to oppose a lawful eviction, and how to resist an unlawful eviction. It is one of the resources in the Dear Mandela Toolkit, aimed at informing individuals, communities and CBOs of their rights.
This guide was developed by SERI and the Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment Studies (CUBES) based at Wits University, and is meant to help tenants. It is structured in three sections which cover the start, duration and end of the landlord-tenant relationship. In each of these sections there are a number of questions which tenants have often asked SERI or CUBES when they have come to us for support. The answers provided are meant to assist tenants to protect themselves against unfair and illegal conduct by landlords and to understand when the law says that a tenant is acting unfairly and illegally.
This booklet was developed because of difficulties faced trying to access laws and regulations on landlord-tenant relations and rental housing in South Africa. It includes the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999 and the Gauteng Unfair Practices Regulations, 2001, which are printed in full together with some guidelines to help readers navigate the content. The booklet is meant to be a companion to another SERI guide: A Tenant’s Guide to Rental Housing. The contents of both booklets have been approved by a lawyer who specialises in housing law. The booklet also provides summaries of two important Constitutional Court judgments which relate to rent increases and unfair lease terminations (Maphango), and electricity disconnections and notice (Joseph). It also summarises a recent decision of the Rental Housing Tribunal on electricity service charges (Jele).
This guide was developed by SERI and the Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment Studies (CUBES) based at Wits University. The law relating to sectional title schemes can be quite confusing. This guide tries to provide a brief description and explanation of the main legal issues that those involved in sectional title schemes should be aware of. This guide is structured in two sections. The first section deals with a number of key questions that are commonly raised by people involved in sectional title schemes. The answers provided are meant to assist sectional title owners, trustees and body corporates to better understand the legal rules that apply to sectional title schemes. The second section lays out how certain disputes and challenges that come up in sectional title schemes should be dealt with.
This resource guide aims to provide a simplified yet comprehensive overview of legislation, policy, programmes and practice relating to basic sanitation in South Africa. The guide focuses on access to household sanitation by poor communities. While some progress has been made since 1994 in terms of the provision of basic sanitation, challenges remain in the formulation and implementation of policy by municipalities. The guide does not claim to be an exhaustive analysis of legislation, policy and practice; however aims to outline the legislative and policy framework, highlight key challenges faced by various departments and communities, and provide a tool for those working on sanitation issues in South Africa e.g. social movements, community-based organisations (CBOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), lawyers, development practitioners, planners, government officials, academics, scholars etc. This guide was written by Kate Tissington.
This resource guide provides an overview of housing legislation, jurisprudence, policy, programmes and practice in South Africa since 1994. As with other socio-economic rights, the legislative and policy framework created by national government around housing is in fact quite progressive. However, implementation to date has been skewed and unable to address the land, housing and basic services needs of millions of poor South Africans who still lack adequate housing and access to water, sanitation and electricity. The report explicitly focuses on access to housing in the urban context. It provides a simplified yet comprehensive guide to policies, legislation, jurisprudence and practice in relation to urban housing in South Africa, which will hopefully be useful to a wide audience that includes social movements, CBOs, NGOs, lawyers, development practitioners, planners, government officials, academics, scholars etc. This guide was written by Kate Tissington.
South Africa’s cities are exclusionary spaces where the combined influences of unchallenged market forces and an Apartheid past mean poor people are confined to urban peripheries. They are also places of great dynamism and have significant potential for development. This report uses statistical analysis and national spatial data on local unemployment rates and the distribution of jobs to investigate spatial mismatch in South Africa’s major urban centres. It finds that there is a significant relationship between physical proximity to jobs and local unemployment rates, which implies that housing located far away from job opportunities acts as a poverty trap. The state and city governments should proactively intervene in housing markets to provide well located and affordable housing for the poor. This will be central to dismantling the “Apartheid city”, and moving towards urban spatial justice. In addition to the report, we have published a longer technical report, which includes a more in-depth presentation of our method and results. The report was written by Joshua Budlender and Lauren Royston. Joshua Budlender wrote the technical report. >>Read the report here, and read the technical report here.
This report, which builds on a first edition published in 2013, responds to the fact that neither property owners nor municipalities have fully come to terms with the significant paradigm shift in the law relating to eviction and urban regeneration. Despite years of litigation and a host of progressive court judgments, which have substantially contributed to the constitutional right of access to adequate housing, municipalities like the City of Johannesburg are still failing to fulfill their duties in relation to evictions and the provision of alternative accommodation. The report includes the latest developments in the law relating to housing rights and evictions and aims to highlight what they have contributed towards South Africa's housing and evictions jurisprudence. The first edition was written by Michael Clark. Stuart Wilson updated the case law and analysed its implications for the second edition. >>Read the full report here.
Tenure Security in Informal Settlements on Customary Land (December 2015)
SERI worked with the Housing Development Agency in the course of 2015 on a research project on securing tenure in informal settlements on customary land. It involved in-depth research in four informal settlements in four provinces and culminated in a set of recommendations for the HDA and other role players. One of the key issues identified in the research was lack of awareness about IPILRA rights (the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act) among the key stakeholders. >>Read the full report here.
This research report highlights the gap in the demand for and supply of low-income rental accommodation in inner city Johannesburg. From research into the supply of formal rental accommodation in the inner city, it is clear that there are no permanent options available to those earning below R3 200 per month. This comprises almost 50% of all households in the inner city, who can afford rent of R900 or less per month. While there are a few institutions providing state-subsidised social housing at lower rentals, these institutions are extremely oversubscribed and there is almost no social housing actually available or affordable to people. The City argues that poor and low-income people should access informal accommodation in shared units at cheaper rentals. However even this informal accommodation is unaffordable to many people, with living arrangements overcrowded with a lack of privacy and security of tenure. The report argues that the most significant intervention the City should be making in the inner city is an affordable, accessible rental housing programme that responds to the needs of the majority of residents. This report was written by Kate Tissington. >>Read the full report here and the summary here.
The jurisprudence of the South African courts (especially the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal) has significantly contributed to the right of access to adequate housing, enshrined in section 26 of the Constitution. The courts have supplemented the legal framework by developing a number of progressive legal principles that should be upheld in eviction cases. The jurisprudence has therefore led to the development of a new cluster of relationships between the parties involved in eviction proceedings, a cluster of relationships that is characterised by a series of rights and obligations pertaining to various parties. Yet despite years of litigation and a host of progressive judgments municipalities have been hesitant, unwilling or unable to act on the obligations laid down in case law. It is amid this complexity that this report seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of the jurisprudence on evictions and alternative accommodation, and the contingent obligations on municipalities in respect of the provision of alternative accommodation. It is hoped that the report might act as a to guide activists, communities and public interest law practitioners caught up in eviction related struggles, as well as local government officials who are tasked with devising and implementing housing policy. This report was written by Michael Clark. >>Read the report here and the summaryhere.
This research report provides an overview of the law and policies relevant to free basic services (FBS) and municipal indigent policies in South Africa. It details the regulations and strategies around FBS - free basic water (FBW), free basic electricity (FBE), free basic sanitation (FBSan) and free basic refuse removal (BRR) - and examines the framework policy and implementation guidelines for municipal indigent policies. The report also contains a survey of 137 municipal indigent policies in South Africa that highlights the numerous problems encountered with the implementation of indigent policies and the provision of FBS, including: targeting methods of FBS, municipal systems of indigent application, conditionalities attached to indigent status and FBS, and FBS amount provided. The report finds that indigent policies tend to restrict FBS to people who already own property, when the greatest need exists among those who do not. The application and documentation requirements to access indigency support are excessive, and the system is designed to restrict rather than expand access to FBS. While the professed aim of the indigent framework is to “target” the poor for the provision of basic services, its overall effect is to target them for exclusion. This report was written by Kate Tissington. >>Read the report here and the summary here.
This research report by the Community Law Centre and SERI analyses perceptions and practice around housing demand and allocation in South Africa, looking at the policies and processes operating at national, provincial and local level. Politicians and officials responsible for housing policy, at all levels of the state, have sought to create the impression that housing allocation is a rational process, which prioritises those in the greatest need, and those who have been waiting for a subsidised house the longest. The ideologically (and emotionally) charged concepts of ‘the waiting list’ and ‘the housing queue’ are emblematic of this. However, the situation is far more complicated. This report attempts to unpack some of the complexity and provide recommendations to government departments at all levels. It argues that the housing waiting list is a myth and should be eradicated from public discourse on housing in favour of a more nuanced way of characterising the rational, appropriate and humane responses to the broad range of housing needs in South Africa, which are not currently catered for by the market. >>Read the main reporthere and the executive summary here.
A public rental housing programme is needed to bridge the gap between the demand for and supply of affordable rental accommodation in South Africa’s higher density urban centres. No formal rental options exist in either the social or private rental sector that accommodate the majority of poorer urban households' needs for rental accommodation. The up-front capital costs, ongoing operating expenditure, availability of building stock and management model are four aspects of the proposed programme addressed in this policy brief.
Community Practice Notes
Informal Settlement Series
SERI’s first community practice notes published in August 2014 are a series on informal settlement struggles for development, in which we examine how community-based organisations (CBOs) in four informal settlements in South Africa have organised and mobilised for development, particularly around the in situ upgrading of informal settlements. The series documents and analyses the relationship between evictions, development, community organisation and mobilisation, local politics, protest and the use of courts.
The four community practice notes making up the Informal Settlement Series are:
Makause: Resisting Relocation on the East Rand is the first in the Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. Makause informal settlement is located in the suburb of Primrose in Germiston, which falls within the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in the Gauteng province. The settlement was established in the mid-1990s after retrenched mine workers occupied the abandoned vacant site, known as Driefontein Farm. Some residents have lived at the settlement for over 20 years.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the settlement; summarises the key events in the struggle to resist eviction and push for development at the settlement; and examines the strategies and tactics of the local community structure, the Makause Community Development Forum (Macodefo).
Rooigrond: Community Struggle in the North West is the second in SERI’s Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. Rooigrond informal settlement is located in ward 27 of Mahikeng Local Municipality in the North West province. It is a rural settlement informally divided into two sections and comprising approximately 600 households (1 500 people) living mainly in shacks, but also in mud and brick houses.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the settlement; summarises the key events in the struggle to resist relocation and push for development in the context of broader political struggles, inter-governmental relations failures and protest in the North West province; and examines the strategies and tactics of the local community structure, the Rooigrond Committee.
Thembelihle: Engaging an Unresponsive State is the third in SERI’s Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. Thembelihle informal settlement is located to the south-west of Johannesburg in the suburb of Lenasia, within the City of Johannesburg. The settlement was established on municipal-owned land in the mid-1980s by rural migrants and employees of a brick manufacturing company. Some residents have lived at the settlement for over 20 years. Currently between 7 000 and 8 000 households reside at the settlement.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the settlement; summarises the key events in the struggle to resist relocation and promote in situ upgrading; and examines the strategies and tactics of the local community structure, the Thembelihle Crisis Committee (TCC).
Slovo Park: Twenty Years of Broken Promises is the fourth in SERI’s Informal Settlement Series of community practice notes. Slovo Park informal settlement is located next to the Nancefield industrial area, between Eldorado Park and Bushkoppies in the City of Johannesburg. Slovo Park consists of around 3 700 households (approximately 7 000 people) living on more than 1 000 informal stands. The settlement was established in the early 1990s by people who moved to the site in search of land close to their jobs.
This community practice notes provides a brief background to the settlement; summarises the key events in the struggle to push for upgrading at the settlement; and examines the strategies and tactics of the local community structure, the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF).
Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series
SERI’s second set of Community Practice Notes published in July 2016 are a series on struggles for access to adequate housing in inner city Johannesburg. They highlight the histories of resisting evictions and the ongoing challenges faced by people in the relocation sites where alternative accommodation has been provided by the City of Johannesburg.
The three community practice notes making up the Informal Settlement Series are:
From San Jose to MBV 1 is the first in the Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series of community practice notes. San Jose is a block of flats in Berea, Johannesburg, which was built in the 1960s. The City of Johannesburg sought to evict the occupants before the Constitutional Court ordered it to provide them with alternative accommodation in a case known as Olivia Road. The City provided the occupants with alternative accommodation in two buildings, called MBV 1 and Old Perm.
This Community Practice Note documents experiences of residents at MBV 1. It provides a brief background to San Jose, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of life at MBV 1 and provides some conclusions regarding the provision of alternative accommodation.
From Carr Street to MOTH is the second in the Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series of community practice notes. Residents of the Dina Glassware building, a derelict building on Carr Street in Newtown, resisted illegal attempts at eviction before they were fporced to relocate after a fire in the building. Residents were relocated to MOTH, a three floor building with a basement, with a large communal kitchen and dining room. Each floor is essentially a large empty hall with no sub-divisions.
This Community Practice Note provides a brief background to the Carr Street building, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of life at the MOTH building and provides some conclusions regarding the provision of alternative accommodation.
From Saratoga Avenue to MBV 2 and Ekuthuleni is the third in the Johannesburg Inner City Alternative Accommodation Series of community practice notes. In the court cases known as Blue Moonlight and Dladla, the occupants of 7 Saratoga Avenue, a commercial property in Berea, were provided with alternative accommodation in two buildings, called MBV2 and Ekuthuleni.
This Community Practice Note provides a brief background to the Saratoga Avenue building, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of life at MBV 2 and Ekuthuleni and provides some conclusions regarding the provision of alternative accommodation.
Informal Settlement Relocation Series
SERI’s third set of Community Practice Notes published in July 2016 are a series on informal settlement relocation. It highlights community struggles for access to adequate housing and how people experience the relocations that follow court processes regarding the provision of alternative accommodation.
The two community practice notes making up the Informal Settlement Series are:
From Marie Louise to "Rugby Club" is the first in the Informal Settlement Relocation Series of community practice notes. The Marie Louise informal settlement is located 15 kilometres to the west of the Johannesburg CBD. After resisitng various illegal evictions, the High Court ordered that the City of Johannesburg relocate the to alternative accommodation at a nearby site called "Rugby Club".
This Community Practice Note provides a brief background to the Marie Louise informal settlement, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of the relocation to the Rugby Club site, and provides some conclusions regarding informal settlement relocation.
From Taylor Road to Ruimsig and Fleurhof is the second in the Informal Settlement Relocation Series of community practice notes. The residents of Taylor Road informal settlement in Honeydew were relocated to two seperate locations after being evicted by the owner of the property and lengthy engagements with the City of Johannesburg on the provision of alternative accommodation. The community engaged both in and out of the courts.
This Community Practice Note provides a brief background to the Taylor Road informal settlement, highlights key events in the struggle against eviction, examines residents’ experiences of the relocation to Ruimsig and Fleurhof and provides some conclusions regarding informal settlement relocation.
Social Movement Series
SERI’s fifth set of Community Practice Notes published in November 2017 examines different social movements and community-based networks advocating for socio-economic development for poor and vulnerable people in different contexts in South Africa. The series assesses how social movements and community-based networks have organised and mobilised to advocate for decent, well-located housing, and protect and strengthen the tenure rights of low-income people.
The first community practice note in the series is:
Inner City Federation: Fighting for Decent Housing in Inner-City Johannesburg examines the strategies and tactics of the Inner City Federation (ICF), a self-organising coalition of tenants and unlawful occupiers from over 40 buildings in inner-city Johannesburg that advocates for housing and basic services, and challenges the stigma associated with low-income inner-city residents.
This community practice note provides a brief background to the challenges facing low-income tenants and unalwful occupiers in inner-city Johannesburg. It also summarises the key events in the struggles of poor inner-city residents to resist evictions, harassment and displacement; establish and maintain effective self-management structures in dilapidated buildings; collectively mobilise; and advocate for decent housing.
This paper looks at the City of Johannesburg’s March 2017 decision to withdraw the universal provision of free basic water and its implications for the poor and their right of access to sufficient water. Since July 2017 only households registered as indigent can access 6 kilolitres of free basic water per month, the basic minimum as stipulated in national policy and legislation. The paper reviews policy and legislation regarding the provision of free basic water services in South Africa and summarises international lessons about narrow versus universal provision of social benefits. The paper concludes that the City should reconsider its decision to withdraw the universal provision of free basic water as it constitutes an unreasonable, regressive step in the realisation of the right to sufficient water.
This paper provides a human rights analysis of the right to housing in South Africa, first reviewing the legal, policy and functional frameworks governing housing, before undertaking a rights-based fault-line analysis of the systemic problems. The paper focuses on urban and peri-urban areas. It is part of a series of papers commissioned by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) in terms of which scholars and experts examine how far the realisation of socio-economic rights have advanced in South Africa. The paper was written by Jackie Dugard, with Michael Clark, Kate Tissington and Stuart Wilson.
This paper assesses the situation pertaining to basic water services in South Africa, first reviewing the legal, policy and functional frameworks, before undertaking a rights-based fault-line analysis of the systemic problems. It is part of a series of papers commissioned by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) in terms of which scholars and experts examine how far the realisation of socio-economic rights have advanced in South Africa. The paper was written by Jackie Dugard.
This paper assesses the situation pertaining to basic sanitation services in South Africa by reviewing the legal, policy and functional frameworks, and undertaking a rights-based fault-line analysis of the systemic problems. It is part of a series of papers commissioned by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) in terms of which scholars and experts examine how far the realisation of socio-economic rights have advanced in South Africa. The paper was written by Jackie Dugard.
This working paper was initially prepared by SERI for the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) as part of a larger project funded by the Ford Foundation. To read the CDE report entitled “Learning to Listen: Communicating The Value of Urbanisation and Informal Settlement Upgrading” see here. This working paper provides an up-to-date overview of the current landscape with regard to informal settlement upgrading in South Africa, particularly the linkages between informal settlement upgrading, livelihood creation, informal sector development and economic opportunity generation. The paper was written by Kate Tissington.
This Occasional Paper was prepared for the Municipal Services Project (MSP). The paper examines and draws lessons from water campaigns’ legal strategies around the world, some of which have transformed national laws and banned private provision, while others were partial victories. The paper looks at six cases of citizen-backed referenda and litigation, offering a comparative and global perspective. This paper was written by Jackie Dugard and Kay Drage.
This working paper presents a number of findings from ongoing research conducted by SERI on informal settlement upgrading and access to well-located land for the poor in South African cities. Specifically, this paper provides a detailed case study on Slovo Park informal settlement in Johannesburg, and the numerous attempts made by the Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF) to bring about upgrading and development at the settlement over the past 17 years. This working paper was written by Kate Tissington.
In 2010, SERI was approached by the Studies on Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII) to undertake a review of housing policy in South Africa since 1994. This research formed part of a broader SPII research project to compile a measurement matrix of progressive realisation of the socio-economic rights enshrined in the South African Constitution.