Types of land tenure systems

A customary land owner can be issued a Customary Certificate of Ownership to recognize and guarantee his/her interest in the land. This form of tenure is also regulated by customary rules, which are limited in terms of their operation to a particular group of people, and may provide for communal ownership and use of land.

An indigenous investor can acquire a lease or even rent if they so wish. The Freehold, Mailo, Leasehold and Customary types of ownership are relevant to this category.

A foreign investor can only lease land. Leasehold type of ownership is therefore the only option available.

Freehold land

Freehold land ownership is the holding of registered land in perpetuity with full powers of ownership, including developing the land, using any and all produce from the land, entering into any transaction in connection with the land, and disposing of the land to any person at will.

Mailo land

Mailo land ownership refers to the holding of registered land in perpetuity. A tenant may obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from a registered Mailo land owner, which recognizes and protects his/her interest in the land.


Leasehold ownership is created by contract or by operation of law, whereby the land user leases land from the owner or controlling authority for a fixed period and pays rent or a premium thereof.