Your new neighbour has extended his property right over your boundary line in clear violation of the relevant town planning legislation. You feel aggrieved, as it affects your privacy and the value of your property. What do you do in this situation?
The position of all buildings lines is determined by applicable town planning legislation. You can obtain these building lines by requesting a copy of the properties zoning certificate from the municipality’s town planning department.
Where the structure is built over or inside a building line this is a clear violation of the town planning laws and can be reported to the town planning department who is obliged to investigate and should it be found that building lines have been crossed they must enforce the law by ordering the structure to be demolished or moved so that it no longer crosses the building lines.
A first letter will be sent to the offending owner requiring him to move or demolish the structure. If the owner does not comply with the first letter a second letter will be sent warning the owner that a demolition order will be applied for from a court. If the second order is ineffective, the municipality should instruct their attorneys to apply for a demolition order.
The municipality can also penalise the offending owner by charging an increased municipal rates on the property. You also have the right to approach the court yourself should the municipality be ineffective.
If your neighbour has built inside or over his building line, or even worse, has built over the border of your property he has encroached on your property.
The same applies where your neighbour has built his balcony or roof or any part of his building over your land. This is unlawful unless you have given permission. The municipality cannot assist you where your neighbour has built over your land you. You will have to approach a court to remove the structure from your land.
Property owners must not think they can get away with violating building lines by quickly and that the court won’t order the demolition of the structure once it is built.
The court can at any time order the demolition of the offending structure without ordering compensation to the offending party. The court does, however, have the discretion to order the law breaker pay compensation to the aggrieved party.
Where an application is brought in a Magistrate’s Court by a municipality under Section 21 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977 for demolition based on non-compliance with the provisions of the Act, the court has no discretion to order compensation and MUST order the structure to be demolished.
Building disputes can arise quickly and become very complex. Please contact Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated should you have any queries.
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