In this lecture, Geoffrey Payne distills thirty years of work on land tenure and property rights to provide a conceptual and methodological framework for assessing the issues involved and offers policy options with practical examples.


AUDIO: Geoffrey Payne - Improving urban tenure security and property rights


Issues which the lecture addresses
The lecture provides a conceptual and methodological framework for assessing the complex range of tenure categories and sub-categories that exist in rapidly expanding urban areas in order to identify options for intervention by governments or international development agencies. It also provides a review of common policies, particularly titling programmes and a range of pragmatic alternatives as a basis for achieving incremental improvements.

Short analysis of the above issues
The analysis draws on research reviewing land tenure and property rights in countries in different parts of the world and presents the major statutory, customary and religious tenure regimes and the range of semi-formal and non-formal categories and the range of property rights associated with them. Such an analysis is considered essential in predicting the outcomes of tenure policy. It also includes an analysis of the outcomes of mainstream policies, such as land titling programmes and examples of policies that provide short, medium and long term improvements in tenure security and property rights.

Propositions for addressing the issue
Geoffrey Payne outlines five fundamental propositions that are key to his understanding of tenure issues and policy options. These are: 1) That access to affordable land with adequate security of tenure and associated rights is a pre-condition for realising the goal of adequate housing and poverty reduction; 2) the failure in rapidly expanding urban areas to provide planned land on terms and in locations needed by different population groups has forced many millions of people into insecure land and housing, often without basic services; 3) that mainstream policies, such as land titling, are less effective in addressing these issues in urban than in rural areas; 4) a wide range of incremental, short, medium and longer terms options have succeeded in improving tenure security and living conditions, and; 5) such pragmatic approaches enable governments and development agencies to evolve more formal tenure regimes applicable to widely different legal, cultural and institutional contexts.


Geoffrey Payne is a housing and urban development consultant with more than four decades of experience in rapidly urbanising countries. He has undertaken consultancy, research, teaching and training assignments in most parts of the world for a wide range of development agencies and directed postgraduate teaching and professional training programmes in leading academic institutions. Geoff founded GPA (Geoffrey Payne and Associates: in 1995 and has worked and published extensively on urban housing and land policy, land tenure and property rights, regulatory frameworks and public-private partnerships. He is an External Associate Adviser to the Commonwealth Universities Association and a trustee of the Building and Social Housing Foundation and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. A central theme of his work involves building local capacity to stimulate social and economic development and reduce urban poverty.


‘Legitimate Land Tenure and Property Rights: Fostering Compliance and Development Outcomes’ with James Mitchell, Luke Kozumbo, Clive English and Richard Baldwin, Rapid Evidence Assessment, DFID, August, 2015.

‘Land Tenure in Urban Environments’ USAID Issue Brief, with Anthony Piaskowy, and Lauren Kuritz,: March 2014.

‘Policy and Politics in urban land market management: lessons from experience’ in Bredenoord, Jan; van Lindert, Paul and Smets, Peer (editors) ‘Affordable Housing in the Urban Global South’ Earthscan from Routledge, 2014.

‘Holding On – Security of Tenure: Types, Policies, Practices and Challenges’ Geoffrey Payne and Alain Durand-Lasserve, Research paper prepared for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, October, 2012.

‘Debate and Pro-Poor Outcomes When Regularising Informal Lands: Urban and Peri-Urban Areas’, Geoffrey Payne, Alain Durand-Lasserve and Carole Rakodi, UNDP Discussion Paper 9, Oslo Governance Centre, March, 2009.

‘Social and Economic Impacts of Land Titling Programs in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas: A Short Review of the Literature’ (with Durand-Lasserve, Alain and Rakodi, Carole in Lall, Somik, Freire, Mila, Yuen, Belinda, Rajack, Robin and Helluin, Jean-Jacques (edtors) ‘Urban Land Markets: Improving Land Management for Successful Urbanization’ Springer, New York, 2009.

‘Safe as Houses?: Securing urban land tenure and property rights (Editor and contributor) Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, October, 2003.

‘Land, Rights and Innovation: Improving tenure security for the urban poor’ Intermediate Technology Publications, London 2002.

‘Tenure and shelter in urban livelihoods’ in Rakodi, C and Loyd-Jones, T (eds) ‘Urban Livelihoods: A people-centred approach to reducing poverty’, Earthscan, 2002, pp151-164.

‘Urban land tenure policy options: Titles or rights?’ Habitat International Vol 25 (2001) pp415-429.

‘Legality and Legitimacy in urban Tenure Issues’ (with Edesio Fernandes), Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Paper, Cambridge Massachusetts, US, 2001.

`Urban Land Tenure and Property Rights in Developing Countries: A Review’ ODA/Intermediate Technology Publications, London 1997.

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