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The Tenure Support Centre

The Tenure Support Centre (TSC), previously known as the Transaction Support Centre, is an action-research project operating in Khayelitsha, a low-income neighbourhood of Cape Town. The project is a joint initiative with the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa and 71point. The TSC helps clients to formalise tenure, regularising informal property market transactions that have taken place in the past, transferring properties out of deceased estates and securing primary transfer on properties that have never been formally transferred from government to housing subsidy beneficiaries.

The TSC uses the experience of its clients from Cape Town to engage with City, Provincial and National officials and policy makers. It also engages extensively with private sector stakeholders to drive change in the affordable housing market. At the same time as responding to individual client needs, the TSC also runs projects to address underlying structural problems in the market. One example of this is the blockchain-based property register the TSC piloted for properties where no primary transfer has taken place (there is no title deed).

The TSC was launched in 2018 with funding and support from the Cities Support Programme and National Treasury. Since then the TSC has received funding from the Trust for Urban Housing Finance (TUHF) and uMastandi, and its operations are currently funded with support from the Oppenheimer Generations Fund. The TSC is also very grateful for the support of FNB who have made space available for the TSC to operate from in the FNB Khayelitsha Mall.

In 2019 / 2020 the TSC was awarded funding from the Cities Alliance to document the project’s key learnings and strategy moving forward. The report is available to read at the link below.

The TSC works at three levels:

  • Clients: The TSC provide practical assistance and support to low-income individuals with various title deed issues. The TSC advises clients on what documents they need, prepares legal documents required for transfer, liases with our partner conveyancers, follows up with City officials on specific cases and educates clients throughout the process on how the formal, legal property transfer process works.
  • Service providers: In the process of resolving client cases the TSC engages with multiple stakeholders and service providers across the public and private sector. The TSC uses real-life case studies to identify and highlight opportunities for improvement in key administrative processes and the need for better servicing models and product offerings from private sector players
  • Policymakers: The lessons learned through the TSCs day-to-day interactions with clients and service providers are fed into the policy and legislative realm through the development of case studies, policy briefs and stakeholder engagements aimed at driving long term, systematic change


Why the need for a Tenure Support Centre?

Affordable properties represent a substantial portion of the residential property market in South Africa. As at the end of 2017, of the 6.3 million formal residential properties visible on the deeds registry in South Africa almost 60% were valued at less than R600 000. Of those, 35% were considered ‘entry level’ properties valued at below R300 000 [1]. Most of these properties were built by the government as part of its RDP or subsidy housing programme. In spite of the very significant title deed backlog, CAHF estimates that approximately 1.8 million properties on the deeds registry (or 30% of all registered properties in South Africa) are RDP properties. Given that housing is the most significant asset on the household balance sheet for property-owning low income urban households, the affordable housing market offers significant wealth creating potential for beneficiary households. However, in this market households’ ability to realise value from their housing assets is significantly hampered by a number of challenges. These include:

  • Access to clean, undisputed title deeds (largely driven by Government’s backlog of title deed transfers and the proliferation of informal sales in this market)
  • The length of time to transact formally (compared to the alternative, an informal sale transaction, which is immediate)
  • The cost of formal sales processes relative to the property value
  • Limited access to mortgage finance

The extent to which these forces undermine the performance of South Africa’s affordable housing market provided the impetus to form the Tenure Support Centre (TSC).

1. CAHF (2018). Investment & economic empowerment opportunities in South Africa’s affordable housing sector. http://housingfinanceafrica.org/app/uploads/Rust_SA-housing-market-opportunity_14092018

The TSC’s work can be classified into three broad areas

Supporting Formal Tenure

Read our latest client case studies here

Enabling administrative processes 

Read our case study on the problem with informal cash sales here.

Education and awareness building

Read more about the TSC Community Day

Read our latest case studies and more

tsc title transfer3

What if you bought a new home — but you don’t have the papers to prove it?

In the news

September 29, 2014. Flooding took place at low lying parts of Nelson Mandela Bay with parts of Missionvale and Kleinskool flooding. Although residents from missionvale has started moving into RDP houses many of them still has to walk up to a km to fetch water like Yonele Khula 11. Pic: Eugene Coetzee. ©The Herald

Nasty truth behind the RDP housing market

In the news


The time it takes to buy a house in Khayelitsha

Case study


Lost in administration – Patricia* and the idle FLISP

Case study


Lessons from the Transaction Support Centre


Key in door

Focusing on affordable resale can transform the mortgage market



Informal cash sales in Khayelitsha

Case study


TSC Community Day



TSC awarded Cities Alliance 2019 Innovation Programme funding



Winding up an estate

Case study


Entitled and untitled

Case study

For more information about the TSC contact Illana (illana@71point4.com) or Jessica (jess@71point4.com)