Framework for Action

Strategic Policies

Alternatives for Regularizing Tenure

Land: The Central Human Settlement Issue. Oberlander, H. Peter. 1985. Human Settlement Issues No. 7. Centre for Human Settlements, University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver. P. 53.

A wide range of alternative approaches are available, the differing details reflecting the different cultural, political, and administrative traditions of the world’s nations and their ingenuity in developing new approaches. The basic alternatives that have been applied are:

    • creating individual private ownership (with various restrictions on use rights)
    • granting individual private leasehold (with various terms on length, renewability, transferability, and so forth)
    • creating communal control (through various communal forms including tribe, urban commune, and so forth, and with various approaches to community-individual relationships)

Outright private ownership has been found to often work against the benefit of the poor as a class in the medium or long run (though it does benefit the individuals granted ownership rights immediately and in tangible terms). This is because where individual ownership has been granted, the poor are often tempted to convert their land grant into cash by selling their land title and buildings to those better off and to move on to other squatter settlements. Depending on the conditions of transferability, the same situation can apply to individual private leasehold arrangements. The tenure approach which shows most promise for retaining land and buildings for use by the poor is communal control in some form.