Yet another court decision – this time in the High Court – underlines the growing readiness of courts to order demolition of any building work carried out without approved plans (or otherwise unlawfully).
In the case in question, a demolition order was confirmed on the application of a neighbour. In other words, this was a case where “private” or “neighbour” law applied, rather than the “public law” matter in which the Supreme Court of Appeal held last year that a court has no discretion but to grant a municipality a demolition order where a structure is illegal for want of approved building plans.
So, if your neighbour has indulged in a spot of illegal construction work, your chances of obtaining a demolition order just got stronger. In this case for example, the offending owner failed to convince the court that it had any discretion to order an alternative remedy in the form of a compensation order for encroachment on its neighbour’s property.
Owners and builders
Don’t start up the cement mixer until all necessary building plans have been passed and you have checked for any encroachments or other potential sources of illegality.
Speed can be of the essence here, so take legal advice immediately upon learning of any unlawful (or potentially unlawful) building work next door.