The reopening of the land claims is causing major uncertainty, especially in the agricultural sector.

What is Land Restitution?

Land restitution is one of the key issues since South Africa achieved democracy in 1994. The goal of the Restitution of Land Rights Act No. 22 of 1994, was to offer a solution to people who had lost their land as a result of racially discriminatory practices such as forced removals.

On the 30th of June 2014, the president signed into effect the Land Rights Amendment Bill. The most significant change was the new date for submission of claims, which has been moved to 30th June 2019.

It is important to note, however, that the requirements for proving the validity of a land claim have not changed since the act was first passed. Claims may still only be lodged for dispossessions after the date of June 19, 1913.

Anyone lodging fraudulent land restitution claims, as well engaging in the obstruction of legitimate claims are committing a criminal offence, which is punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both.

While land reform and land claims have been a controversial issue that has affected the South African society at large, section 25 of Act 108 of 1996 of our Constitution of the Republic of South Africa outlines the property rights afforded to every citizen.

It states that no one may be deprived of property except in the terms of the law of general application, and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property. It, however, does not guarantee that your property may not be acquired by the government for the purposes of land redistribution or land reform.

How does Land Restitution affect Property Values?

The Expropriation Bill has received a great deal of attention in the media recently due to a controversial push to have this bill passed as soon as possible. The government intends to speed up the expropriations by the state with the newly proposed legislations.

As it currently stands, the definition of expropriation implies that the organ of the State or the State itself can expropriate property on behalf of a private individual or private company. The new Bill’s definition of property is wide open to interpretation which could include residential and commercial property, other moveable property and intangible property such as intellectual rights.

It goes a step further to include ‘public purpose’ and ‘public interest’ definitions and opens the door for the expropriation of land for people who would like to undertake economic development such as low-income-housing.

Due to the establishment of the Office of the Valuer-General, the State can now expropriate property and pay out what the valuators have determined the property to be worth – unlike in the past where there was a ‘willing seller, able buyer’ principle allowing owners to refuse to sell if the Government didn’t offer enough compensation. The valuator’s determined price of the property will be based on market value. The property’s history of acquisition, current use and the purpose of expropriation will also be considered.

A layer of protection does exist, in that the new bill requires that the state first exhaust all efforts to purchase the property on reasonable terms in the open market before considering expropriating it.

At the end of the day, both land owners and claimants have rights. Make sure to exercise yours within the parameters provided by the Constitution.

The Property Partnership specialises in asset valuations, as well as property, business, and plant valuations. Give us a call on 0860 999 440 to get a fair and accurate valuation of your property so you are better prepared when it comes to standing your ground.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]