Love Thy Neighbour - Property Boundary Matters | Legal Articles


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Love Thy Neighbour - Property Boundary Matters

Often at times municipalities are approached by disputing parties with regards to complaints relating to boundaries on their properties. This usually happens in residential than commercial properties, where neighbours accuse each other of going beyond their lawful property boundary and penetrating into the other’s property.

boundary walls law south africa

Boundary Walls Law South Africa

Some of the disputes end up in the Courts and be subject to litigation running into high amounts of attendant fees, especially where Interdicts to stop building and Orders to demolish are sought.

However, if parties would be more careful when they demarcate their property boundaries or developing buildings thereat, such disputes would be less frequent. This is because whenever an area is zoned and marked for a residential scheme, each property’s boundaries are pegged and clearly marked.

Thus, any development on each property must then observe these markings so as not to encroach into the property of a neighbour.

Boundary Wall Specifications South Africa

Further to observing boundary demarcations, buildings on each property should also adhere to prescriptions of the National Building Council whose regulations provide that the minimum and maximum height of walls must be 1.5 metres and 2.4 metres respectively.

Also, any wall that is higher than 1.8 metres must get special approval from a Structural Engineer. Should the property specifications differ from the aforesaid, the local Municipality must grant permission as there are various factors that must be considered.

Boundary Wall Regulations

In Sectional Title properties (complex) where the boundary walls are usually on common property, the duty to make sure these are maintained rests on the Body Corporate which oversees the common property facilities.

However, had the wall been in a private space where it does not fall within the ambit of common areas, then the owner of the property/unit thereof would be responsible for any anomaly and its modification.

Where the wall is shared, then the responsibility is also jointly shared on either side of the wall.

Differing views have been advanced with regards to the ownership of freehold boundary walls. One view is of the opinion that the wall is owned jointly, while the other shares the view that either party owns a share equally, with a reciprocal obligation of lateral support.

Practically however, it is accepted that both neighbours have equal responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the wall, thus rendering unnecessary to argue which view supersedes the other. The Courts further, have favoured this approach in numerous instances.

In the same vein, it thus means any moderation to the shared or jointly owned boundary wall is subject to agreement with the other neighbour or the Body Corporate depending in which scheme the property is situated (freehold or sectional title). 

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated – Property Attorneys South Africa

Kindly contact us for comprehensive assistance with regards to neighbour law as well as property related matters in general.  


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