April 21, 2020
SPLUMA CERTIFICATES EXPLAINED
SPLUMA is the acronym for the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013 (the “Act”) which came into effect in 2015. SPLUMA aims to develop a national framework to govern spatial planning, planning permissions, and land development approvals. As framework legislation, it provides broad principles for a set of provincial (and municipal) laws to regulate planning and repeals legislation which previously regulated these matters, such as the Development Facilitation Act, the Less Formal Township Establishment Act, and the Removal of Restrictions Act.
In terms of section 24 of the Act,, municipalities are required to approve land use schemes within five years of the commencement of the Act. As part of this requirement, each municipality is required to adopt by-laws to facilitate the practical implementation of the SPLUMA framework. In terms of these by-laws, municipalities now play a central role in the approval of all land use and land development applications, for example, re-zoning of properties, sub-divisions, consolidations, establishment of townships, opening of sectional title schemes, and the removal of restrictive title deed provisions.
There has recently been some confusion around the need for a SPLUMA certificate when registering transfers of properties in the Deeds Office. This confusion has arisen essentially as a result of requirements contained in certain by-laws adopted by municipalities in Mpumalanga, which require a certificate confirming that the buildings and improvements on the land are in accordance with municipal building plans and further, comply with the municipal zoning scheme.
The Act provides for a section 53 certificate, which stipulates that the registration of any property resulting from a land development application may not be performed unless the municipality certifies that all requirements and conditions for approval have been met. This does not envisage the requirement of a certificate for transfer of property in the ordinary course but only, for example, where a township is established, or a property is sub-divided or consolidated.
The eThekwini Municipality by-laws do not require a SPLUMA certificate for transfers of property in the Deeds Office unless it amounts to land development which include township establishment, sub-divisions or consolidations.