What does rezoning of a property mean?
Rezoning means to change a use zone to allow for certain land use rights on a property.
Zoning regulations determine how properties may be used or developed. When property owners want to develop or use property for a certain activity or purpose that is out of line with the applicable zoning regulations, they must appoint a town planner to apply for a “rezoning” at the Local Municipality in order to change/rezone the current zoning of the subject property.
Every property in South Africa has its own zoning certificate which specifies its current zoning class and development controls. Municipalities have particular zoning regulations for each property within a certain area/suburb, including commercial, residential, agricultural, industrial and mixed use. Within every zoning category there are subcategories that show what the property may be used for. The zoning certificate also includes the allowable development controls of the subject property (height, coverage, density, floor area ratio, building lines, etc.)
A lot of property owners apply for rezoning so that their properties can allow a different use. A rezoning application can be lodged to the Municipality if a property owner wants to change the zoning class of a property from one type of zoning to another, or to operate a business on his/her property which is zoned for residential use.
A rezoning application needs to follow several procedures before it can be approved by the relevant Municipality, which can be a long-lasting process.
A rezoning application needs to be lodged to the relevant Municipality and can take up to a year to be approved. The Municipality requires certain complex documentation with a rezoning application, and the application fees can be really costly.
It is recommended for property owners to appoint a town planner with the rezoning process, due to the complexity of the application to the Municipality. The benefit of using a town planner is that the application is done by a professional who understands the relevant applicable legislation and other aspects of the application process.
The rezoning of property often happens when an investor wants to make a profit, which means that the property can be used for commercial purposes after it was a residential property, or that residential land can be used for group buildings (residential units or townhouses).
Buyers need to be aware of restrictions on a property before buying it. You may not use property for any purpose other than that for which it is zoned. In some cases, local authorities may allow landlords to use a small percentage of their homes, usually 20%, for business purposes.
If you plan to change the use of your premises, you should apply to your local authority. However, the application process can be lengthy, complex and expensive. For that very reason, she says, it is important to get the assistance of a knowledgeable town planner who can guide you throughout the rezoning process.
Another piece of advice for buyers planning to rezone is that they stipulate in the contract of sale that the offer is subject to the local authority’s approval of the rezoning or permission to use the property in a specific way. Also stipulate who will bear the cost of the application.
Step by step process to rezone your property
- Schedule a meeting with a professional town planner to get clarity on the type of application to be lodged;
- The town planner will provide his/her professional and expert advice on your development proposal;
- The town planner will provide you with his/her quotation for the proposed application(s) to be lodged;
- If there are any restrictive conditions in the title deed of the property, an additional removal of restrictive conditions application will have to be lodged to Council. A second additional quotation will be generated in this regard.
- The registered owner of the property will have to sign the Special Power of Attorney and Resolution, if necessary;
- If a Bond is registered over the property, the Bond Holders Consent will have to be obtained from the bond holder before the application may be submitted to Council.
- The town planner may schedule a meeting with the local authority to obtain additional input on the proposed rezoning;
- A full rezoning application will be submitted to the Municipality, where after it is assessed for completeness;
- When the application is found to be complete, the advertisement process can commence;
- Depending on the Municipality and applicable By-Laws, the rezoning application may have to be advertised in the Provincial Gazette, Newspapers, and on-site as prescribed and adjoining owners may need to be notified of the application by registered post.
- The application is then circulated to the relevant internal departments for their respective inputs and comments, and the town planner will expedite this aspect of the application.
- The rezoning application usually takes 6 – 7 months for approval, if no objections are lodged against the application.
- The scope of the town planners’ work includes; obtaining of plans, documents and investigations, discussions with Council officials, site-inspection, preparation and submission of the full application with a motivating memorandum and for all follow-up work and administration related to the approval of the application.
- If objections are lodged against the application, a town planning hearing will have to be scheduled by the Council’s town planner.
- Should the appointed town planner have to act on behalf of the client with regards to a hearing or meetings with objectors, the town planners’ costs may be levied on a time and cost basis.
- If objections are lodged, the process to obtain a hearing date and decision can delay the project up to 6 months after the report is completed by the Council town planner for the hearing.
- Bulk contributions for engineering services may be levied due to the increased usage of the erf and payable after approval of the application. The engineering departments only confirm in writing the amounts and conditions once the application is lodged and circulated within Council.
- After approval, the owner/developer has to comply with the conditions as set out in the conditional approval letter of any application.
- The post-approval conditions as mentioned above will have to be complied with in order for Council to promulgate the approved land use rights in order to proceed with development.