What is usufruct and habitatio?

Kruger Attorneys & Conveyancers Inc
Kruger Attorneys & Conveyancers Inc is a specialised conveyancing practice, providing incomparable property law services through practical wisdom and trusted advice.


The term Usufruct is used to describe a state in which a person has the right to occupy a property which belongs to someone else. It grants the right to a person to make use another person’s property, enjoying the fruits (profits and other advantages of ownership) for a limited period of time. For example: When a person bequeaths his property to an heir or legatee but grants the right of use to his parents or spouse.


Similar to a usufruct, the holder of a habitatio, has the lifelong right to only live in the property or to let the property out belonging to the bare dominium owner, without the right to enjoy the fruits (profits or other advantages of ownership). This right is also limited to a specific period and would usually terminate upon the death of the habitatio holder or if cancellation of this right is agreed to.

These rights must be registered against the title deed of a property and once this has been done, they are enforceable against everyone, including the owner of the property.

By Jacques Terblanche from Kruger Attorneys & Conveyancers Inc