Running a business from home in Cape Town

Home business

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on Cape Town’s businesses, job market and the local economy. The City of Cape Town has noticed that many residents are exploring alternative working and business location options due to the national lockdown and the health and safety issues.

For Capetonian residents and business owners who are exploring these alternatives, the City advises that they become familiar with and understand their property rights and the conditions for operating from home.

We are aware that many business owners have or still plan to start operating from home to cut costs and that some entrepreneurs have started new home-based businesses already. We encourage all to explore these alternatives as it will assist with Cape Town’s economic recovery” comments the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.

However, it is important that residents and business owners be informed of the land uses and development rules applicable to their properties. Residents can consult their local district planning office – our Development Management staff are available to explain the restrictions and can provide guidance where needed.”

Every property within the boundaries of the City of Cape Town is subject to a set of regulations that control development on that property. Each land unit also has a zoning. The zoning prescribes what land use is allowed on the land unit.

The City advises that residents consult the CCT zoning map to find out their property’s zoning and to check the City’s Development Management Scheme (DMS) to see what land uses and development rules apply to their property. Residents are asked not to assume that a specific activity or business can operate from their home.

In some zones, residents can run a small home industry, professional practice, or occupation from a property zoned ‘single residential’ without needing the City’s approval. Where this is the case, the specific industry, occupation, or practice must still comply with certain restrictions as stated in item 23 of the DMS. These conditions relate to limiting its size, potential nuisance to neighbours, and the impact on the surrounding environment.

The City of Cape Town’s Development Management Scheme indicates the land use for a specific property zone on different levels as follows:

Primary land use: the main purpose for which a property may be used:

A primary land use means the collection of land uses and activities that are allowed in terms of a property’s existing zoning, without a landowner or developer having to apply to the City for any further approval. In the zoning ‘single residential” for example, the primary land use usually is a dwelling unit.

Additional uses are other uses that may be allowed if they meet certain criteria:

An additional use right means a land use that is indicated in the Development Management Scheme as a use that is only allowed on a property if certain criteria are met. An additional use right on a property zoned ‘single residential’ may include a second or third dwelling, a home occupation, a bed-and-breakfast, or home childcare, for example.

Consent uses are other uses for which the City may give permission upon application:

A consent use means a land use indicated in the Development Management Scheme as a use that requires the City’s specific permission before it may be undertaken. A consent use on a property zoned ‘single residential’ for the purposes of operating a business from home may include a house shop, guest house, halfway house, or veterinary practice, for example.

A land use that is not specifically indicated as a primary-, additional-, or consent use may require a departure or deviation from the City’s Development Management Scheme. In this case, the landowner will have to apply to the City for such a departure. It is important to note that land use departures are only granted for a specific period.

An application to rezone the property to another zone that permits the required use on a permanent basis, is an alternative.

Residents can contact their local planning offices for further information. The most effective way to reach the district offices would be to email the City’s Development Management Info hub as contact at the physical offices are limited at this stage.

See below the contact details of the City of Cape Town Development Management district offices:

Blaauwberg (021 444 0561,

Cape Flats (021 684 4369,

Helderberg (021 444 4620,

Khayelitsha/Mitchells Plain (021 360 1101,

Northern Suburbs (021 444 1057,

Southern Suburbs (021 444 7721,

Table Bay (021 400 6444,

Tygerberg (021 444 7843,