What to do in case of illegal building by my neighbour?
“My neighbour has recently started building a new double-storey extension to his house which has dramatically impacted on my view as I now look directly into the back of his double storey from my main living area. I was not aware that he would be building and am worried about what this could do to the value of my house. Is he allowed to just build?”
More and more home owners choose to rather expand or renovate their current homes than purchase a new property. Unfortunately, many home owners embark on this process without adhering to the applicable standards and regulations as set out in the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977 (“Building Standards Act”) and obtaining all the necessary consents.
According to the Building Standards Act, any plans and specifications by a property owner which involves the erecting of buildings and/or structures must be approved by the local authority beforehand. This approval process involves a comprehensive inspection of the building plans by the local authority’s building control officer in order to determine if all the major and essential requirements, laws and regulations have been complied with.
During the approval process, the local authority has a discretion, in terms of section 7 of the Building Standards Act, to refuse a building plan application on the grounds that it could negatively affect (disfigure) neighbouring properties in the area in which the building is to be erected, if the planned building work will be unsightly or objectionable or if it will detract from the value of adjoining or neighbouring properties. This section is of great importance due to the fact that it protects property owners from ending up in a situation where their property suffers a drastic decrease in value due to building activities of their neighbours.
In your case, I would therefore recommend that, if you suspect that your neighbour is conducting building activities without following the proper procedure or which could have a detrimental impact on your property, you can liaise with the relevant local authority and ascertain whether the required processes have been followed and approvals obtained. If a neighbour did not submit his building plans for approval, he could be fined or even be instructed to cease construction and/or demolish any progress to date. For assistance with this process, it may be prudent to involve your attorney.