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New city of Cape Town By Law now allows 3 houses on a single erf & all the changes to Cape Town's new By Laws

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Single residence rezoning, changes to short term rentals, minimum parking requirements reduced, while validity period for approval of land use extended - here's what you need to know.

New city of Cape Town By Law now allows 3 houses on a single erf

New amendments to the Cape Town municipal By Laws now make it possible to have three dwellings on an erf zoned SR1; an erf on which originally only one dwelling was allowed. Legislation promulgated in December 2019 took effect on this matter from 3rd February 2020.


Rowan Alexander, Director of Alexander Swart Property, says previous legislation brought about a situation where ‘consent use’ for a second dwelling on a SR1 plot was changed to ‘additional right use’.

Last year Alexander commented that this meant the owner of a SR1 plot no longer had to get the council’s permission for a second dwelling. Where applicable, approved plans are needed for the additional dwelling and alterations to the existing building. The latest legislation now makes it possible for a third dwelling to be erected as an ‘additional right’.

Again, the plot owner can now simply submit plans for approval - no special consent or permission has to be obtained. The only proviso being that the plot must have access to sufficient water, electricity and sewerage services to cope with the extra load on it, he says.

Understanding all the changes to Cape Town's new By Laws and how they affect you

Short-term letting provisions

“Cape Town’s popularity as a world-class tourist destination has resulted in a spike in the number of homes available for holiday lets and fuelled investor demand for sectional title units with short term rental potential,” says McKirby.


“However, there has always been a bit of a grey area regarding whether short term let properties should fall under the same regulations as guesthouses and B&Bs and even what the exact definition of short-term letting is in terms of the rental act.”

According to Botha, this has now been clarified: “Short-term letting from a house or flat for a period not exceeding 30 consecutive days is no longer controversial and the By-Law now makes specific allowance for such use of premises and adds a definition of a “transient guest” who may make use of short-term letting.

“A transient guest is defined as someone who ‘is provided temporary accommodation on a land unit that is not their permanent place of residence, for a continuous period not exceeding 30 consecutive days at a time’.

“However, this does not prevent organisations like body corporates and homeowners’ associations from implementing regulations controlling or even prohibiting the use of property for short-term letting and these rules will trump the zoning allowance.”

Minimum off-street parking requirements


Minimum parking requirements have been reduced for the following land use categories: flats, boarding houses, guest houses, backpacker’s lodges, hotels, retirement homes, orphanages, crèches, places of instruction, gyms and health clubs, clinics, medical consulting rooms, veterinary practices, shops, supermarkets, restaurants and motor showrooms.

However, parking requirements have been increased for third dwellings and self-storage as well as for the following land use categories: motor repair garage, service stations and motor fitment centre.

Height of structures


“There is now a new method for determining the height of structures which will no longer be measured from a base level as an imaginary plane,” says Botha, “but rather from all points above the existing ground level.

“A specified height above existing ground level can be seen as a ‘parallel’ plane to the existing ground level so all references to base level have therefore been changed to refer to existing ground level and the definition of ‘existing ground level’ has been amended.

“And the approval of an application for a departure to alter the development rules relating to permitted floor space or height that does not exceed 10% of the maximum height or floor space of the existing subzone, does not trigger the minimum threshold requirement.”

Increase of validity period for approvals of land use applications

The default validity period for approvals granted in respect of land use applications has increased from two to five years is now standardised to be 5 years (and not two).

Botha says that this also applies to the extension of the validity period for land use applications, but excludes temporary land use departures. 

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