What are your rights when developers build next door to your property?

Each property carries a particular zoning and each municipal area has specific by-laws which deal with the matter, states Steve van Wyk from Seeff Centurion offers advice.

It then starts with the existing zoning of the property. Each property is zoned in terms of its use and specific density and FAR (floor area ratio) which is already approved in terms of the existing zoning.

For instance, if the property is already zoned in such a way that the developer is permitted to build five more storeys and on 95% of the land surface, they will not be obliged to give any notice to homeowners.

“If, however, the developer needs to apply for a rezoning to change the existing property rights, they must give notice in terms of the municipality’s regulations.

“The respective regulations will also stipulate how the notice must be given, but it generally involves a notice that must be placed on the property concerned and often, an advertisement as well,” van Wyk said.

The developer may also be required to inform the immediate neighbours by registered post, but this depends on the council’s rules.

The objective of the notice, is to provide an opportunity for objections within a certain time frame, whereafter the municipality considers objections and makes a decision as to whether there are grounds for rejecting the developer’s rezoning application, Seeff said.

Rezoning applications are usually considered by the city council in terms of their own long-term plans for the specific area.

If, for example, the area was identified for light industrial development, a developer is more likely to be granted a rezoning permission for light industrial development, but not necessarily for residential development, and vice versa.

“As a homeowner, you are entitled to take legal action by approaching the court for an interdict to stop the construction until a ruling has been made. You can also approach the court for an order to object to the specific zoning. You will however, need to prove why the proposed development will be to the disadvantage of you and the community in which you live,” van Wyk said.

The chances of success increase when more people from the community lodge objections, but there are still no guarantees, Seeff warned.

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What are your rights when developers build next door to your property?