A property is zoned by the local government on town planning stage.  A zoning certificate is issued by the local government as confirmation of the classification of a specific property, further providing information relating to the uses permitted on such property.  The certificate can be applied for and obtained from the local authority or municipality, each entity having its process in this regard.   A town planner can also be enlisted to obtain a copy on behalf of the property owner. 

Zoning certificates are important and required in the development of land, where the zoning of the specific land may have to be changed for the use that a developer intends utilizing the property for.   Information on a zoning certificate includes the following for the property:  address and location, owner’s name, zoning classification, special conditions or restrictions relating to the use of the property and the date on which the zoning certificate was issued.  The types of zoning include Residential, Residential 1, Residential 2, Residential 3, Residential 4, Business and Business 1 to 4, as well as Industrial and Industrial 1 to 3.   

The Residential zoning classifications cover residential property and each sub-category is determined by taking into consideration coverage (maximum area of land to be built on), floor area ratio (maximum floor area under roof) and density (number of dwellings).

Business zoning classifications include business property which includes general business, general business with certain restrictions (certain businesses), limiting the type of business to be opened in its entirety and the last sub-category excluding shopping centers entirely but rather focusing on office use e.g. office parks.

Finally, Industrially zoned properties involve more factory orientated business, noises, pollutants, smells and other emissions and categorized by their severity, accordingly.

It is a reality that zoning may need to be changed when subdividing property and the intended use therefore, which we strongly advise in the use of a town planner with knowledge of the area specifically.  The process can of course also be actioned by the property owner him/herself.

Consent Use

Zoning of a property is therefore the base of the classification of a property, but an application for the specific use of a property, without change the zoning thereof, can also be applied for at the local authority or municipality.   The application can be made by the property owner only, for e.g. creche use, a church establishment or a second dwelling.   It is important to note that the consent use is specific to the owner of the property (the applicant) and when the property is sold a new application will have to be embarked upon.  The approval of the use is subject to a time period and may lapse, in certain circumstances, and more importantly certain zoning categories will only accommodate certain consent uses.  For example Residential I can be used for communes, churches, retirement centers, social halls, creches and guest houses, generally.   In the consideration for the approval, the local authority will take into consideration location, access, traffic impact and amenities in the community – both the need and applicability to ensure the use serves the area.

A consent use application should typically enhance the area, add value to the community, “promote the principle of spatial sustainability in that it promotes land development” and limit traffic congestion creating more of disturbance or nuisance to the community.


Should you require any assistance with the zoning/rezoning of your property please feel free to contact one of our experienced attorneys on 011 897 1900, 076 777 1920 or


Article contributed by Hayley Appel of Tuckers attorneys.