The Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act No. 70 of 1970 Explained: Part 2



In this Part 2 of the series of “The Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act No. 70 of 1970 Explained”, we shall look at actions that are prohibited regarding the subdivision of agricultural land or any actions amounting to such subdivision and if there are any available remedies.

Once again it is reiterated that The Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act No. 70 of 1970 (hereafter “the Act”) has its purpose to prevent the subdivision of farming units or the creation thereof, and such units not being economical in their nature. This objective is essentially achieved through the Act as the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development of South Africa has to give his or her consent before any subdivision may lawfully be effected.[1]

The first three actions which are prohibited by the act are that agricultural land may not be subdivided; no undivided share in agricultural land shall vest in any other person if such undivided share is not already held by a person, and no part of such undivided share in agricultural land shall vest in any other person if such part is not yet held by another person.[2]

The fourth action which is prohibited concerns the leasing of agricultural land and the renewal of such lease. The Act states that no one may enter into a lease for which the period of such lease is 10 years or longer. Neither may the length of the lease be the natural life of the lessee and/or the life of any other mentioned person in such lease. Further actions which are prohibited surrounding the leasing of agricultural land by the lessee, is the renewal of such lease either by the continuation of the original lease or by entering into a new lease and such continued and/or renewed lease being for an indefinite period or the combined period of 10 (Ten) years.[3]

The following actions are prohibited by the Act, except where such actions relate to the purposes of a mine as defined in section 1 of the Mines and Works Act[4]. These actions include the selling or advertising for the sale of a portion of agricultural land, whether or not the latter is surveyed or contains any building thereon. Furthermore, the selling or granting of a right to such portion is not allowed if it is: for more than 10 years; or for the natural life of any person; or to the same person if such consecutive periods amount to more than 10 (Ten) years.[5]

Section 3(f) of the Act states that no area of jurisdiction, local area, development area, peri-urban area, or other area referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of “agricultural land” in section 1 of the Act, shall be established on, or enlarged to include any agricultural land.

Lastly, the action of giving public notice that a scheme relating to agricultural land, or any portion thereof has been submitted or prepared under the ordinance in question.

Thus, if a person finds him or herself in circumstances where they are dealing with the subdivision of agricultural land and such circumstances are alike with any of the scenarios above, then such dealings will be prohibited in terms of the Act and will be null and void. This means that such actions will need the prior consent of the Minister to comply with the Act.

In Part 3 of the series on “The Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act No. 70 of 1970 Explained”, we shall look at the procedure on how to apply for consent as required by the Minister. This will include the imposition, enforcement, or withdrawal of conditions by him or her, as well as any miscellaneous provisions.

  • T Sewapa “Subdivison of Agricultural Farmland” 2016 p 1.

  • Section 3(a)-(c) of the Act.

  • Section 3(d) of the Act.

  • No. 27 of 1956.

  • Section 3(e)(i)-(ii) of the Act.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)