Demolish or go to jail” developer in the doghouse
30 days – that’s how long a property developer will spend in the local lock-up unless he demolishes illegal building works.
A deviation from plans…
- A property developer obtained municipal approval to build a house on his property
- The municipality, finding on inspection that the construction taking place deviated from the approved plans, obtained a court order forbidding him to continue
- Undaunted, the developer carried on building, ignoring notices clarifying his legal position, a direction to “cease all work forthwith” and ultimately the threat of a contempt of court order
- Hauled back to court, he tried to convince the court that, having applied for special consent to the deviation from the plan, he believed that he was entitled to continue building
- Unsurprisingly the Court was not impressed with this defence and, refusing to condone his conduct, found him guilty of contempt of court
- Commenting that the object of contempt of court proceedings is not only to vindicate the court’s honour but also to compel performance of court orders, the court sentenced the developer to 30 days, suspended for 2 years on condition that he demolishes the illegal building work within 30 days, and thereafter complies with the original order
So what do you do if your neighbour builds illegally?
Regular readers will recall the oft-repeated advice to seek legal assistance immediately you become aware of any illegal building activity in your area. Don’t delay; you need to move quickly and decisively. And once again our courts have confirmed that every municipality has “not only a statutory duty but also a moral duty to uphold the law and to see to due compliance …..” Nor will our courts tread softly when it comes to assisting municipalities in carrying out this duty
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