Unauthorised occupation of land and its implications has become one of the biggest challenges affecting planning and development including but not limited to housing. The number of occupations has increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Municipalities and other landowners are spending substantial funds to prevent unauthorized occupation, including costs for security, fencing, preventative signage, litigation etc. Illegally occupied land often has no basic services which often then leads to service delivery protest and in some cases the provision of emergency services. When protests become violent, damages to existing infrastructure may be incurred.
It is the view of local government that a more conducive environment must be created for municipalities to manage unauthorised land occupation in a balanced way that recognises land hunger while ensuring adherence to law, policy and procedure. This will assist in improving their ability to plan and deliver integrated human settlements and effectively tackle the housing backlog in a manner which balances the rights of landowners, the rights of occupiers, and the sustainability of local government.
The 5th Community of Practice on Human Settlements Finance, held virtually 21 October 2021, focused on the difficult issue of unauthorised land occupation. The National Department of Human Settlements shared a presentation on proposed amendments to the PIE Act. CAHF then made a presentation on the impact of unauthorised land occupation on municipal service delivery and planning, as well as the financial impact on local government budgets, from both the expenditure and revenue perspectives.
The COP is a joint initiative of CAHF, the Cities Support Programme of National Treasury, and SALGA and was established in 2019 as a regular platform intended to address issues of housing finance, spatial planning and housing development in cities. The purpose of the Community of Practice on Human Settlements Finance is to provide a knowledge-sharing platform for research on residential property markets and the built environment finance framework.
The report and presentations from the 5th COP session can be downloaded below.Finance impact of unauthorised land occupation Proposed amendments to PIE Act 5th COP report