Boundary walls & fences: The responsibility of property owners | Legal Articles

 

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Boundary walls & fences: The responsibility of property owners

Boundary walls and fences maintain the harmonious relationship between property owners, and determines the dividing line where two properties meet.

Boundary walls and fences designate the responsibilities relating to the adjoining properties.

Boundary walls and fences - Property law

Without proper boundaries, neighbouring properties face encroachments, such as overhanging branches, structures and tree roots.

The nature of a boundary wall is determined by its location on the boundary line between two properties.

It is not determined by the intention of the neighbouring property owners at the time that the wall was erected.

Boundaries can be erected entirely on one property, forming part of the land belonging to that property owner.

However, it is generally erected on the physical boundary between the two properties.

Which property owner owns the boundary wall?

While neighbouring property owners are bound co-owners of the wall, the wall belongs to each owner individually.

This means that the wall provides each property owner with a tacit servitude of lateral support against the other owner.

Both property owners enjoy the boundary wall or fence, provided that it does not affect the other owner.

This means that one owner cannot make changes that affect the wall as a whole, without the other owner's consent.

The responsibility of property owners

Both owners are equally responsible for the repair and maintenance of the wall or fence.

However, if one owner replaces the existing  fence with an expensive one, the other owner doesn't have to contribute to any costs.

When owners acquire a wall, they use their part of the wall as they wish, as long as it doesn't affect the stability of the wall.

Each owner is responsible for maintaining their half of the wall, and can prevent changes that compromises it's structure.

A property owner can build on their half of the wall, if it is strong enough to bear the additional burden.

However, if the whole wall requires strengthening, the consent of the other owner is required.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated - Property Lawyers Johannesburg

Contact Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated, if you have any queries related to the boundary wall or fence on your property.

Our team of leading real estate attorneys offer legal assistance with regards to the duty of lateral support, nuisance and encroachment in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

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