There are several types of tenure:

Free-hold has very few restrictions on it and is considered by economists to be more secure. Lease-hold is considered more equitable as it reserves the right of ownership of land to the society as a whole rather than to an individual. However, most countries of the region put restrictions on the use of both free-hold and lease-hold in the better interest of society[1].

Secure tenure is part of a country’s hierarchy of rights, ranging from legal titles and contracts to customary recognition of use rights[2].

Providing secure tenure therefore does not pit the rights of squatters or tenants against those of private property owners and landlords, who should be protected under contract law. But countries permitting arbitrary eviction often also fail to enforce private real estate contracts and otherwise obstruct the private rental market, further disadvantaging low-income citizens[2].

By confirming the rights and responsibilities associated with the occupation and use of land, regularizing tenure status removes a major source of economic and political insecurity for households and for communities. It reduces some of the risks that discourage residents from investing in their houses and shops— and gives them a stronger stake in urban society and an incentive to work with local officials to obtain services[2].

Best PracticesEdit

Some cases of best practice in land tenure[2]:

  • A study in Indonesia found that stronger tenure security increased the probability of demanding garbage collection.
  • Surveys of slum dwellers in Bangalore reveal that better tenure status has a significant and positive impact on willingness to engage in collective action to obtain urban services, even in culturally heterogeneous communities.


  1. UN-ESCAP (1998) Urban Land Policies for the Uninitiated
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 World Bank, 2003. Chapter 6, World Development Report.