The aim of the research was to clarify the land tenure relations of an impoverished farming community on a farm called Melkkraal. The farm is co-owned but it is also home to twenty six households of which three are co-owners. The remaining households have occupied the land through a haphazard process of acquiring oral permission from some of the co-owners and non-owning residents. This has led to a tenure conundrum because the way in which the farm is registered means that neither the households nor the co-owners can access the necessary government assistance or assert their authority to make development decisions. As a result, the Surplus Peoples Project undertook to investigate the nature and content of the rights of the households in relation to the rights of the co-owners. The findings revealed that very little difference exists between the non-owning residents and the co- owners in terms of how land is used and transacted. This was attributed to the evolution of a social land ethic such that one can speak of the Melkkraal farm as a commom property regime.This means that there is just cause to upgrade informal rights in land into real rights in property.