The developments, mostly double-storey homes, can contain up to 10 units, with rents ranging between R1 500 and R3 000. Picture: Rob McGaffin

A new generation of property entrepreneurs is emerging in Cape Town’s townships. They have seen a gap in the property market for low-cost rental accommodation, and have seized the opportunity by building solid bricks-and-mortar developments offering affordable micro-units.

Developments can include up to 10 units, are often double-storey, and vary in size from about 10m² to about 40m². Rents range between R1 500 and R3 000.

“Call it backyarding version 2.0, in that it is bricks and mortar, the accommodation is legal, safe (built according to approved plans) and affordable,” says Zama Mgwatyu, a project manager at the Development Action Group (DAG), an NGO with more than 30 years experience in urban governance, housing and community organising.

The units are mostly servicing gap market dwellers – those who earn between R3 500 and R15 000 a month. It is estimated that about 3.5 million households fall into this market. These households include young families, recent graduates and single professionals.

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