Rural–urban migration leads to ever increasing numbers of Africans living in informal settlements. In Accra's largest informal settlement, Old Fadama, residents by definition have no statutory rights to the land and their building activities undermine formal state law and state-recognized customary landowners. Statutory institutions are unable to enforce property rights and alternative interests emerge and organize. In multiple and fragmented ways, local stakeholders create and define their own informal relations of property and land-based authority. This article examines four cases of land transfers, building and development in the settlement that involve a variety of local, national and global actors. Their actions show the contemporaneous making and unmaking of different relations of property and land-based control and authority in the densely populated urban site. Important features of urban development in Accra are thereby shown to be variations in property relations and the multitude of actors that validate land use but that circumvent statutory institutions.