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Assessing the benefits and challenges of informal backyard rental housing: a case study of Murchison, Port Shepstone.

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Established in the 1980s, the informal backyard rental sector has grown at a rapid rate, providing shelter for households wanting to access economic opportunities in the cities. The housing backlog increases every year and issues such as migration to urban areas as well as affordability issues for the low and middle-income households has them resorting to informal settlements and informal backyard rental sector to access housing. The local municipalities then face the dilemma of a high backlog with the challenge of a shortage of resources, expensive land and basic services to deliver the housing to households. The aim of the study was to assess the benefits and challenges that are experienced by the tenants and landlords within the informal backyard rental housing sector, it was conducted in the Murchison community under the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality within KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The objectives include examining the benefits and challenges experienced by the landlords and tenants, to understand the reason behind the proliferation of the informal backyard rental housing sector and to understand the rules and agreements between the landlord and tenant within the sector. A qualitative research methodology was utilized to understand both parties’ experiences within the sector, neoliberalism and the sustainable livelihood approach theories were utilized to analyze the study. The study assesses the policy framework and provides some recommendations that may help the informal backyard rental sector which include having pro-active settlement layouts as well as the support of the microfinance sector so that landlords can be able to access finances to build more informal backyard rental housing. Suggestions of how to help alleviate the challenges experienced and increase the benefits of both the tenant and landlord within the study are proposed. The main findings indicate that the tenant and landlord benefit from the relationship through monetary exchange in the form of rentals for shelter. The tenants experience the most benefits including, access to services, proximity to transport, access to job opportunities and safety. The challenges experienced within the study show that some tenants do not pay rentals on time and do not follow the rules that are set by the landlord which creates a strained relationship between the tenant and landlord.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.