Regulating property markets for inclusive cities

Réguler les marchés fonciers pour des villes inclusives
Article Index

Urban growth in the cities of the Global South can be seen first and foremost in the extension of informal settlements, due to the fact that the public and private supply of affordable housing for the poor is inexistent. Pro-active public action can reverse the signals sent to the market, weigh against land speculation and secure the habitat built by the informal channels. An imperative in the fight against spatial segregation and urban spread.

Cities in developing countries are characterized by a triple phenomenon: a high demographic growth rate; a rhythm of spatial extension which is generally faster than the population increase and the existence of ill-equipped districts in which the inhabitants have no formally recognized land rights. This very general observation must not lead us to underestimate the highly diverse situations, dynamics and political answers observed at regional, country and city-scale. The aim of this chapter is to show how the land-use strategy of various urban actors can contribute, in certain cases, to increasing social inequalities. This question will be broached mainly as a reference, on the one hand, to property markets and on the other, to public policies.

The evolution of informal settlements

Currently more than half the world’s population is urbanized. In 2050, the urban population of developing countries will have more than doubled, rising from 2.3 to 5.3 billion people. During the next four decades, 95% of the growth of the global urban population will be absorbed by cities in developing countries1 (read points 13 and 14). Global data must not hide the differences between regions: in 2005, the rate of urbanisation was estimated at 38% in Africa, 40% in Asia and 77 % in Latin America. If the trends observed during the last decade are confirmed, it should reach 63% in Asia and exceed 50% in Africa in 2050. The pressure brought to bear on urban land is therefore considerable in a context which is often marked by the lack of facilities and the insecurity of land tenure.

Slums and  "informal settlements"? Combined with insufficient resources, the difference between the supply and demand for housing and land for habitat is, to a large extent, behind the extension of settlements that Anglo-Saxon literature defines as « slums ». According to the United Nations1 these are settlement areas which have at least one o the five following characteristics: 1) the housing is not built with lasting materials capable of providing effective protection; 2) the occupancy density is higher than three people to a room; 3) the occupants do not have access to quality water in sufficient quantity and at a reasonable price; 4) there is no adequate sanitation; 5) the occupants have no security of land tenure1.

1 They have no protection, de jure or de facto, against evictions.

This definition refers to forms of occupation of the urban area characterized by poverty, the absence of facilities and lack of secure tenure2. The occupants have no formally recognized land titles or occupancy rights. In theory, they cannot sell the land they occupy or transfer it as heritage. They do not have access to minimum urban facilities and services3.

2Estimated at 924 million people in 2003, the figure for the population living in the slums of the world was revised downwards by the United Nations in 2006. This revision is not the result of an improvement in the housing situation but mainly the consequence of the redefining of one of the five criteria for the definition of slums regarding sanitation.

3Mali, which has been for fifteen years a pioneer in decentralisation and adopted in 2000 a novel estate and land code, has not yet passed the implementing decrees which would make it possible to end the Government’s monopoly on land.

The figure for the population living in slums is currently estimated at over 800 billion people worldwide. In 2005, it represented 36% of the urban population of developing countries. However, the situation varies considerably from one region to another: less than 15% of the urban population of North Africa is concerned, but 27% of the population of cities in Latin America and South-East Asia, 43% in Southern Asia and 62% in sub-Saharan Africa4 • Except in countries with a high growth rate, which have massively invested in the production of housing and facilities and which are committed to programmes for regularising informal settlements (particularly South Africa, Brazil, India, and China), the demographic growth of these districts shows no signs of slowing down. Over the next decades, the situation will be the most problematic in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of people living in the slums doubled between 1990 and 20055.

The term « secure land tenure » has a legal, political, social, cultural and economic connotation6. It means a situation where those occupying a piece of land benefit from protection, de jure or de facto, against eviction. These evictions are only justified in exceptional circumstances, and must, in these cases, be conducted in compliance with legal procedures, objectives which also apply to all and may be subject to proceedings before a court. Because informal land tenure is one of the main features of poor districts, we will use the term « informal settlements» rather than slums. Nevertheless, these two terms do not cover exactly the same truths: « informal district » focuses on the land tenure of the occupants and the compliance with standards of urban development, planning and building whereas the word « slum » refers to other criteria, mainly the characteristics of housing and regarding facilities.

Three main types of informal settlements

In all cities, three main forms of informality of land tenure and urban planning which correspond to three main types of districtcan be observed.

Squatter settlements. Squatters occupy land or housing without permission from their owners and generally against their will. The land can be occupied progressively – this is what occurs most frequently – or « invaded », which was a current phenomenon in Latin America in the years from 1980 to1990, but which is rarer these days.

Squatters can also be former tenants of buildings or land that the owners wish to develop or sell them. The occupants go from the status of tenants to that of squatters. They can also be assignees of « occupancy permits » for land belonging to the Government or local authorities – this is the case in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the French-speaking part – who have not met their obligation to develop in the time required and who then become considered as illegal occupants.

Informal settlements are the result of land development operations carried out by actors who are not always authorised to do so, and according to highly irregular procedures. The sale of land is often illegal, certified by a deed of sale but its development does not comply with urban development rules and regulations: standards for facilities are not met, building has not been authorised with a permit, taxes and fees have not been paid. This is the case of the loteamentos of Sao Paulo, the colonias of Mexico, or the « clandestine settlements » of Moroccan cities. The level of irregularity varies according to the cases. It is very rare that the inhabitants of these districts have illegal status from the property, urban development and fiscal point of view at the same time. This type of housing is often occupied by medium and low-income groups which do not have access to the formal channels of land and property development but have sufficient income to escape the insecurity of squatter settlements.

Occupation of old and excessively densified housing in blocks or buildings of the central districts of cities is the third major type of irregularity. The legal status of the occupants is very variable. They may be squatters but most often they are tenants or sub-tenants, with no rights or leases for sub-divided rooms. This housing is occupied by a highly mobile population of young active people who have no security of occupancy and are exposed to the arbitrary discrimination of owners or intermediaries. We can quote here the case of the vecindades of Mexico or the cortiços of Sao Paulo, extremely deteriorated old buildings in the city centre and which house around 2 million inhabitants.

These three types of informal settlement have evolved in a different way over the last few decades. The spatial extension of squatter settlements has considerably slowed down, but new districts have formed or have spread in the remotest peri-urban areas. At the same time, the various forms of informal settlements are increasing and strongly contribute to the spatial extension of cities, at a rhythm which is generally faster than that of population increase. The occupancy dynamics of dilapidated buildings or of small non-built enclaves in the old part of the city are changing, under the contradictory pressure of the demand for very low cost rental units, rehabilitation and retrofitting operations, urban planning and restructuring of districts and rehabilitation and regularisation policies.

The progression of informal settlements therefore follows the channels of land and property production and the property markets.

Land and property development channels

The different channels and their evolution. Land for housing and homes is produced by actors who operate according to various logics and procedures. If we observe the different phases in land and property production and the actors who intervene during each of them, three typical land and property production channels can be identified. Government channels where the production of land for housing and homes is dominated by the Government or para-governmental institutions; capitalist channels, dominated by actors who aim at making a profit on land or property development operations; popular channels which belong neither to governmental production nor capitalist production, and which are developed by actors whose strategies are very varied and who operate most of the time within an informal framework. We can observe that changes affecting one of the phases of land production or the intervention strategy of one of the actors in one of these phases have repercussions on the way all the other channels work. On the scale of a city, we can also talk of a system of land and property production. Its analysis in terms of channels helps to identify its own dynamics.

Formal land supply does not meet the demand of the largest number of people. Formal and informal property markets are closely interdependent. Observation of the evolution of urban property markets over the last twenty years has shown that formal land supply does not meet the demand of the largest number of people. This situation largely explains the development of informal property markets. This term covers the transactions, exchanges and transfers of land which are not recognized by law but which are nevertheless socially accepted and considered as legitimate by various urban actors. Even though they are rarely recognized by Governments, they are often tolerated.

Government withdrawal and liberalisation of property markets.

For around twenty years, we have observed, but with a marked acceleration of the phenomenon in the last ten years, a withdrawal of public authorities where land and property production is concerned. This goes with a growing commoditization of the popular channels of land production. There are no longer any free channels of access to land, and any installations – even where they are totally illegal – require the payment of a price, rent, fee, tribute or entrance fee. After a phase of direct intervention in land and property production which followed independence and then the creation of land agencies and town planning companies designed to ensure access to urban land of the emerging urban middle classesin a number of countries in the 70s and 80s, Governments withdrew. This withdrawal took place later in sub-Saharan Africa where public authorities maintained their prerogatives relative to land rights allocation.

International financial institutions and aid and cooperation agencies have often contributed to public power being withdrawn10 that they justify by two arguments: the weak performances of Government land and property production channels and the dysfunctions that these channels could introduce on property markets by distorting the rule of competition.

On formal markets, investors have focused their activities on high-income groups and, where conditions are favourable, on middle income groups. The social environment and the economic context have a strong influence on the evolution of these markets which are supported by economic growth, the development of public investment in urban facilities, the setting up of systems for financing housing and the emergence of urban middle classes with a saving capacity in North Africa, in the emerging countries of Asia and Latin America.

Evolution of land prices

Urban land is a preferential investment sector for those who have monetary assets and who do not have access to investments likely to guarantee sufficient returns. Where the drawing and returns of small saving are not guaranteed – as is the case in sub-Saharan Africa – urban land is for households both a form of saving indexed on inflation and social protection. In a number of cities, this particular function of land tenure explains the importance of the land market in peri-urban areas. Urban land can also be a privileged field of investment for enterprises, either because they diversify their activities, or because they meet cyclically difficulties in their sector of activity. In a cycle of strong demand, land can be a way, often effective and low-risk, of valorising a capital.

Most land and/or property development companies belong to diversified groups in which land is only one opportunity for investment among others {read Louise David and Ludovic Halbert xx). Security of land tenure is an important element in the price of land. The price of land depends not only on its location, its accessibility, its physical characteristics and potentialities of development, but depends also on its land status, the regularity of the transaction and the level of security of tenure it guarantees. The difference in price between the formal and the informal markets can also be considerable. This difference observed in all developing cities, is particularly marked in Africa due to the combined weight of government land management (public state) and the weight of informal property markets.

The specific character of sub-Saharan Africa. The countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly the French-speaking ones, are still characterized by a plurality of property markets. Following decolonization, the new independent Governments reclaimed the land tenure prerogatives of colonial Governments everywhere. The Government allocates the land: land is not generally sold but granted under the general regime of “occupancy permit”, a precarious and revocable administrative authorisation. Transformation of “occupancy permits” into property titles is conditioned by the payment of fees and the administrative costs of the operation, and the development of the land by the assignee. Despite the fact that on principle they are not transferable, land granted in this way has given birth to a very active market. City-dwellers who have privileged access to administration will strive to obtain a piece of land at the administrated price and then sell it at the market price (see insert 1). The interests at stake are such that, despite insistent pressure from aid and development agencies and international financial institutions, Government administrations are strongly opposed to any attempts at reform which aim to put an end to their land prerogatives.3

Insert 1 | Customary land markets, formalisation of tenure and the price of land

Observations8 made by the author in September 2009 in the peri-urban areas of Bamako or Ségou in Mali show, for example, that land purchased by a private individual from a customary owner at a given price can be resold at three times the price if the witnessed sales deeds are recorded at the Town Hall. If, for the same piece of land, an administrative authorisation is granted (occupancy permit), its value will be multiplied by 4 to 6, if the purchaser of the land obtains a land title (property right), by 10, and even by 15. When the property title is allocated, years later and after countless efforts, the price of the land will have multiplied by 20. The difference between the price paid to the customary owner and the price of the land on the formal market will have been captured in advance, by the actors intervening in the regularisation process. The higher the probability of obtaining the regularisation of land tenure, the more the price of the land on the informal market will approach that which is practised on the formal market.

The customary land system occupies a central position in most of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly in West Africa. This community right of use is transferable and in theory inalienable. Most of the land in peri-urban areas is the object of customary claims, which are sometimes recognized by law (Ghana, Uganda, Niger, South Africa) but are always tolerated due to the fact that they have kept a strong legitimacy and that their function an important one since the formal private and public land production cannot meet the demand. The customary markets often ensure over half the production of land for housing on the perimeter of cities114. Land purchased on this market can in theory be the object of a regularisation request. Access to land through customary channels is fast and simple and transaction costs are reduced. They generally guarantee a security of tenure. One of their main drawbacks is the lack of recording of deeds of sale which creates inextricable arguments between purchasers. The other drawback is linked to the difficulties inherent to the retrofitting of these districts.

4 In Cotonou and Porto-Novo (Benin), it is estimated that 80% of parcelled land has been put on the market during the last few decades by neo-customary actors; the proportion is of over 70% in Yaoundé (Cameroon), in Bamako (Mali) or in Dar es-Saalam (Ethiopia).

The limits of public policies

Public policies aiming at improving informal settlements mainly work around four targets which have met with fairly general consensus at international level.

Protection against evictions. The priority is to fight against evictions by guaranteeing security of land tenure12-13. Public authorities can ensure the protection of the most vulnerable households against forced evictions, a target which is easier to reach on illegally-occupied public land than on private land. Protection against evictions can be simply a commitment made at the highest political levels. Guarantee of security of tenure is often part of a process of administrative recognition of the rights of occupants by the Government or local authorities. This is the first stage, the second being the allocation of personal rights to the occupants of informal settlements. These rights are generally allocated for a limited length of time, likely to be renewed, and impose restrictions on the use of and the conditions of transfer of the land. Thus, in India, the integration informal settlements into the city through the allocation of administrative permits guaranteeing the occupants against evictions has been the subject of a legal and regulatory framework with the application of a law known as the « Patta Act » in a number of cities, a law which is applicable in all the squatter settlements which have developed on public land (see insert 2).

Insert 2| The Patta Act in Indian cities

All the squatters living in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh, India) on public land with a surface area under or equal to 50m2 are likely to benefit from a non-transferable long term lease, under the law of 1984 on persons without land (Madhya Pradesh Act for Landless Persons [Granting of Leasehold Rights] in Urban Areas), known as the Patta Act. This law prevails over all others including the city’s town planning. Out of the 163 squatter settlements identified in 1983, mainly on public land, 103 were granted a thirty year lease, and 27 a renewable one-year lease. Only 33 settlements on private lands or whose land status was contentious, were not able to benefit from this law. In Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), approximately 58% of the 52 000 families living in the slums benefited from the Patta law and improved facilities. The allocation of long-term leases under the Patta law spread to most of the other Indian Governments between the late 1980s and the early 1990s. These operations are generally accompanied by programmes for developing facilities in the settlements concerned, and sometimes by programmes for housing loans. The improvement of land tenure has made it possible to stimulate private investment aiming at improving housing in the squatter settlements. Improved facilities have led, in the short term, to immediate and visible positive effects on the settlements. Nevertheless, in the long term, a deterioration of housing conditions can be observed. Securing land tenure has in fact resulted to a densification of construction which often exceeds the capacity of the settlements where the parcels are very small and the streets narrow, which leads to a saturation of basic services and facilities.

Source: B. Banerjee,  "Maximising the Impact of Tenure and Infrastructure Prograrnmes on Housing Conditions: The Case of Slums in Indian Cities", International Conference on Adequate and Affordable Housing for All: Research, Policy, Practice, Toronto. 24-27 June 2004.

Protection against evictions can also take the form of Government intervention to regulate the eviction procedures carried out by private owners, if necessary by imposing negotiation with the occupants. The aim is to ensure social welfare. This is a practice which has been observed in Thailand since the early 1990s (see insert 3). The obligation to rehouse, as near as possible to their district, the occupants who are the victims of eviction has progressively been accepted. For example, since 2004, the World Bank has made this a condition for the support that it allocates to Governments or local authorities committed in in operations of retrofitting and urban restructuring.

Insert 3 | Thailand: Flexible regulation of the popular rental market 

For several decades, land owners have been renting their land to low income households who would not normally be able to own property due to the price of land in the centre of the city. These households build their homes there. This formula allows urban property owners to earn an income from their heritage pending subsequent commercial valorisation, and the tenants to live near the areas of employment. Even though these are informal arrangements this rental system is recognized and rental contracts sometimes formalized. Local authorities provide the rental settlements with the services they need, according to the rental period. The end of the rental contract is negotiated sufficiently early with the inhabitants to allow them to enter into negotiations with another owner. Poor households can therefore adapt to pressure from the formal land market without hindering its operation. Public authorities have also intervened, relatively efficiently, in operations known as land sharing, and have made sure that the land owner can recuperate part of his land – the part which had the highest market value - on condition that he sells the part which is least easy to upgrade.

Source: Somsook Boonyabancha. « Scaling up Slums and Squatter Settlements Upgrading in Thailand Leading to Community-driven Integrated Social Development at City-wide Level », Arusha Conference. New Frontier of Social Policy, 12-15 December 2005

Land regularisation of informal settlements. Public policies also aim at ensuring regularising the land of informal settlements14-15 . The allocation of administrative authorisations is often considered as a first step in regularising informal settlements, the last step being the allocation of real rights, usually property titles, emphyteutic leases or surface rights, which are enforceable against third parties and can be transferred, bequeathed and mortgaged. The difficulties encountered in this operation depend, among other things, on the prevailing form of irregularity. It is difficult in central districts where the price of land largely exceeds the capacity to contribute of the households concerned, and comparatively easier when the occupants agree to contribute to the cost of the operation and public authorities can mobilize the resources required – this is the case of massive regularisation operations carried out in the 1990s in the colonias (informal settlements) of Mexico. The regularisation of districts occupied by squatters is very different according to whether the land belongs to the Government or local authorities or to private owners. In this last case, the intervention of the courts slows down the regularisation process. In addition to this, the cost for the occupants can be high if they have to purchase the land at market price.

Equipping districts with facilities. The question of land tenure irregularity cannot be dissociated from that of equipping districts with facilities, indispensable to ensure their integration into the city. In the same way as halting evictions, developing facilities for districts is often perceived by the populations concerned as a form of recognition and the first step towards regularisation. Public authorities were for a long time opposed to such an operation as they believed that it might be a form and an encouragement to illegality with as a consequence, a faster growth of these districts. This point of view, widespread in the 1990s, had negative consequences: insecurity and the absence of facilities which discourage from investing in housing or in income-generating domestic activities, and worsen the situation of the households concerned2

Preventing the forming of new informal settlements. Lastly, public policies are trying to prevent new informal settlements from being formed. To do this, equipped land and infrastructures must be produced on a massive scale. In a context of the opening and liberalisation of land markets, of Government withdrawal and the price of land increasing much faster than that of incomes, this target is difficult to attain in many cities. It can only be reached with the combined effort of economic growth, improved quality of life, the adoption of legal and fiscal measures aiming at monitoring and regulating property markets, and the setting up of a system for financing housing. We have here a group of countries – with China and Brazil in the first row – where the proportion of the population living in the informal settlements is decreasing significantly.

The role of policies for the integration of informal settlements. These different objectives can be combined, on the scale of a city, in a policy for the integration of informal settlements. The best example of such an approach is given by Brazil, which has set up novel policies based on the notion of « the social function of property and the city». The “City Statute” adopted in 2001 gives municipalities a wide range of instruments to develop the integration of informal settlements and thus democratize the conditions of home ownership (see insert 4 and chapter 3).

Insert 4 | Brazil: An integrated approach to land regularisation

The Brazilian “City Statute” has provided the foundations of a new paradigm of occupation and development of urban land: the right to property is guaranteed on condition that it fulfils a social function. This is defined by municipal legislation. Municipalities are in charge of formulating territorial policies and policies for land use in the respect of the balances between individual interests of owners land and the social, cultural and environmental interests of the other groups. The principle of the « social function of property and the city » redefines the individualistic model of the civil code of 1916. The City Statute also provides municipal administration, particularly in the framework of the blueprint with a range of legal urbanistic and fiscal instruments aiming at regulating or monitoring land and property markets in a perspective of social integration and sustainable development of the environment. All these instruments can and must be combined not only to regulate but also to guide the process of occupying space according to the« city concept » as it is formulated in the blueprints. Municipalities have been granted more latitude to intervene in the dynamics of formal and informal property markets or to alter them; specifically when it is of a speculative nature and may generate social exclusion and spatial segregation. The City Statute also gives municipalities legal instruments to help them develop the regularisation of land tenure and democratize the conditions of access to housing.

Source : Edesia Fernandes, « Implementing the Urban Reform Agenda in Brazil », Environment and Urbanisation, 19 (1), April 2007, p. 177-190.

Security of land tenure and individual property rights. Does security of land tenure require individual ownership of land, or « titling »? To repeat the arguments advanced by Hernando De Soto16, those who follow this option believe that it would make it possible to secure investments and facilitate access to mortgage credit17 for households living in informal settlements. By doing so, they largely underestimate the often contradictory nature of these two objectives. In fact, systematic allocation of individual property titles supposes a reform of the legal and regulatory framework of land management, the simplification of land management and allocation procedures and political reforms combining decentralization and democratization. These conditions are rarely coupled in cities in developing countries which are characterized by the diversity of local situations, lack of resources, low management capacity of administrations15 and corruption in agencies in charge of land management. The implementation of such a policy on a large scale is therefore rarely possible and is not always desirable for technical, administrative, political, economic and cultural reasons 15-18.

5 To ensure the regularisation of informal settlements through the allocation of property titles in a City with 6 million inhabitans18, in which 50% of the population is living in informal settlements, would imply that the administrations in charge of land management issue 400 land titles per work day over a period of ten years.

The World Bank has recently adopted a rather more subtle point of view on this question than the highly ideological one that it had defended for a long time. For example, Robert M. Buckley and Jerry Kalarickal observe that it « would be dangerous to develop property title allocation programmes as the only answer to the problems of the urban poor [ ... ]. They alone could not « free the capital"10 »

The importance of the political and economic environment. If available data do not make it possible to conclude at on the improvement of the situation of populations living in informal settlements districts a global level they do nevertheless make it possible to conclude that the inhabitants of informal settlements tend to be less exposed to insecurity. The improvement of land security observed recently is not only a result of the implementation of regularisation programmes, but mainly of the change in attitude of public authorities in how they deal with informal settlements. The countries which have succeeded best are those which have set as objectives, not actually giving property titles, but guaranteeing security of tenure for the inhabitants of informal settlements. Despite the fact that few countries have adopted a legal device to protect against evictions, they are decreasing with regards to the years 1990 6-19. An eviction can be a political risk if it affects a large community. In this case negotiation must replace force. Small communities, and particularly those which occupy land with a high commercial value of the central and peri-central areas, are on the other hand, more exposed. In sub-Saharan Africa, except for South Africa, the prospects of land ownership for the poor appear to be the worst: public estate, land governance underlined by accelerated urban growth and the urbanisation of poverty combine to create a largely unfavourable environment. The success of policies aiming at helping the poor to own urban land depends largely on the political and economic environment. Countries where the most significant successes have been recorded have in common a sustained rate of economic growth, political continuity and a will, expressed at the highest level, to integrate informal settlements. These are also countries in which the Government has acquired regulatory tools relative to land and has adopted an integrated approach, and not a narrowly sectoral one, to the urban land issue. This environment favoured the development of formal and property markets rather than the unification of property markets whose large scale titling programmes are intended as a means. Impact studies show that regularisation through the allocation of property titles would trigger a significant increase in the price of land and would stimulate the land market, restricting its access at the same time18• The lowest income groups would therefore be excluded from it.

The role of governments

Integration and exclusion: two contradictory dynamics of the market. Liberalisation and unification of markets, presented as an essential objective of development policies by international financial institutions, implies the integration of all the informal markets into the sphere of formal activities 20-21. In as much as a large part of the urban population has no access to land and housing except through the informal channels of land and property production since neither the formal private sector nor public authorities can produce land to house the lowest incomes, and at a time when the price of urban land has a tendency to increase faster than incomes, the unification of property markets might exclude rather than integrate. Liberalisation of property markets and the withdrawal of the Government add to the increasing pressure of the market on the informal settlements in cities and exclusion by market mechanisms and tends to replace evictions which have been seen to decline in most cities7. Market pressure also causes the increase, which can be observed everywhere, of expropriations in the public interest which often aim at freeing land for private investment projects. A new argument justifying evictions is appearing in Latin America and in Southern Asia, encouraged by the urban middle classes in the name of environmental protection and public health imperatives (unsanitary health conditions of settlements). Market pressure on popular districts which occupy zones where land prices are high has something to do with this.

The necessary regulation of property markets. The market can favour the integration of the poorest under certain conditions; it can also help to increase inequalities by widening the gap between those who have access to land and those who are excluded from it. A systemic approach to property markets is indispensable for Government intervention to take into consideration the interactions between the different formal and informal markets. The fight against evictions must continue and particular attention must be paid to the displacements induced by the mechanisms of the land market. This fight implies the recognition and legitimization of the different forms of tenure whereas the policies of systematic titling of land property and unification of property markets expose poor communities to market pressure. The securing of land tenure must be considered as a progressive process, focus being placed on the allocation of rights likely to evolve over time towards property right if the occupant so wishes, if he can pay the price for it and if the administration has the means to ensure the allocation4. It is therefore necessary to set up a system for recording land rights which integrates the various forms of tenure and takes their evolution into account. Public authorities can “prevent from doing”, but are less and less capable of “doing”. If these limits are taken into consideration, the question of Government regulation of property markets and those of the relationships between the Government, the market and the civil society must be posed. The Brazilian experience can add to this debate. Currently a slow process of individualisation of rights to land and property-ownership can be observed all over the world. The Government must make sure that this is done at a rhythm that society can keep up with. Therefore, its role is both very ambitious, because it must be present and very modest because it has little resources and will probably have less and less.


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