THE VALUE OF A NEIGHBOUR’S VIEW
Keywords:property industry, building plan, obstruct the view, adjoining property, market value
The recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Paola v Jeeva NO (2004 1 SA 396 (SCA)) has caused quite a stir in the property industry. The court ruled that in terms of section 7(1)(b)(ii)(aa)(ccc) of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977 a local authority cannot approve a building plan if the proposed building would obstruct the view from an adjoining property to such an extent that the obstruction would in fact derogate from the market value of the latter property. Some property practitioners have interpreted the judgment to mean that a municipality is now prohibited from approving the building plan relating to the construction of any building if the proposed development would impair the view from an adjoining property. Many believe that
“the logical conclusion of the … decision is that he who first develops his property may be able to prevent his neighbours from developing their properties in similar fashion, to any extent that it detracts from his view”.
Based on this interpretation of the judgment, owners of vacant land in coastal resorts whose view is currently obstructed by an existing building may rightfully fear that they will be forced to live with this given the position that they cannot build a double storey to obtain some view if by doing so they would, in turn, obstruct the view from an adjoining property. In fact, this belief has prompted some estate agents to advise sellers of vacant land that since they cannot erect a building obstructing their neighbour‟s view, the value of their properties has been diminished substantially, hence they should lower their asking price. Against this background it is perhaps not surprising that it has been suggested that the judgment “cannot be a correct interpretation of the relevant section” and that the Supreme Court of Appeal “needs to reconsider its broad-brush approach to the meaning of value … and in any event that the legislature needs to amend the section to ensure that it is interpreted sensibly”.
The purpose of this note is to place the Supreme Court of Appeal's judgment in proper perspective. It is submitted that the decision is perfectly correct and, properly interpreted, does not support any of the aforesaid contentions.
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