WIT Press

South Africa’s Informal Backyard Rental Sector Through The Lens Of Urban Resilience And Sustainability


Free (open access)





Page Range

847 - 858




290 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


L. G. Lategan, E. J. Cilliers


South Africa’s informal backyard rental sector contributes significantly to the country’s housing needs by presenting affordable informal rental options within serviced areas. This paper relates the informal backyard rental sector not only to urban sustainability, but also urban resilience against internal urbanisation pressures, specifically related to an ever-increasing low-cost housing demand. This paper reflects the need to establish flexible and sustainable planning practices which capitalise on an existing informal development culture in order to improve living conditions and urban functions by celebrating informality’s innately flexible nature. Thus, this research aims to provide evidence for the value of the informal backyard rental sector in the context of socio-economic, environmental and spatial viability, for sustainable and resilient urban environments which deliver settlements in which all tenure options and housing needs are equally met. Research navigates through existing theories on the informal city and incorporates new theoretical and empirical work on SA’s informal backyard rental sector. Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape Province is used as a case study to answer the question: How do informal backyard rentals contribute to urban resilience and sustainability and how can this contribution be amplified? This paper finds that the informal backyard rental sector, through its instinctive ability to adapt, increase residential densities and support life sustaining practices may significantly contribute to urban resilience and sustainability, if recognised and supported by those who wield the power to influence South Africa’s urban (r)evolution.


informal rentals, resilience, sustainable development