Penalty can be imprisonment for going against demolition orders

In Cape Town, particularly the Southern Suburbs and Atlantic Seaboard where land is at a premium, there are ongoing building operations where properties are upgraded and modernised, in some cases without the proper approvals, said Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Anne Porter.

"Owners sometimes, either knowingly or unknowingly, disregard the municipal requirements," she said. "For additions to a property the owner must get the necessary approvals of all plans and any contravention of the township conditions contained in the title deeds could lead to a demolition order being passed by the courts."

If the owner does not comply with this demolition order, he can run the risk of an added penalty of imprisonment, she warned.

This was recently highlighted in a Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes property law update, in the case of Van Rensburg NO and Another v Naidoo NO and Others, where the Shan Trust was told to demolish additions that were made to a house built without the necessary approvals. There were many attempts made by the Shan Trust to fight the judgement but all were unsuccessful.

The court order declared the trustees of the Shan Trust to be in contempt of court, which then led to the order for the imprisonment of the trustees (which is the penalty for this offence).

"Although tedious and time consuming," said Steward, "and as frustrating as it is to get the required planning, in the long run if you do not get the necessary approvals, you run the risk of incurring costs to demolish the building in addition to what was paid to build it in the first place, plus the litigation fees."

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