A matter of land | My neighbour has built too close to my house
Good day Readers. This week, we respond to another reader who has a query.
I saw your articles online and I am now seeking your advice.
The situation is that I am the process of buying a piece of land, The land surveyor's report shows that the person who is building beside me is constructing his house too close to mine. I was told this is a breach.
What do I do in the matter and how can this be fixed?
Thanks in advance
Good Day A.C., and thanks you for your support of The Sunday Gleaners 'A Matter of Land'.
I am uncertain as to whether you are talking about a breach or an encroachment. You said the person building beside his house is too close to the one on the property you are trying to purchase. This sounds more like a case of encroachment to me, as opposed to a breach of a restrictive covenant.
Encroachment is a term which means 'advance beyond proper limits'. Essentially, it means that one person advances or violates his boundary limits by building something on the neighbour's land or allowing something to hang over the adjoining property.
This usually happens when an owner is not aware of his property boundary or is aware and wilfully chooses to encroach.
Note that the encroachment can be either a building, its eaves or cantilever, or even a dividing fence incorrectly constructed. An encroachment means that you have violated a property that is not yours. You do this by overstepping your legal boundary and advancing beyond your proper limits.
Correcting the problem
Based on your email, I think the neighbour has built too close to the building on the property you're trying to acquire. You can have this corrected by removing the section of the structure that is encroaching on the adjoining property.
If the section of the building is removed, the problem is immediately corrected.
First, consult your land surveyor to show exactly where your boundaries are and where or what section of your neighbour's building you need to have removed.
Depending on the size of the structure, it can be a simple task, but it could also be complex and very costly.
However, there is another means of correcting the encroachment. You can make arrangements and negotiate with the owner of the property that has encroached to have him purchase the section of your property on which his structure is encroaching.
You would need to engage the services of your commissioned land surveyor, who would survey the section of the property that your neighbour needs to acquire. He would prepare a 'pre-check' plan for it to be approved by the National Land Agency.
Your attorney would then do what needs to be done to ensure that section legally becomes his property so you no longer have encroachment issues. This will take some time and have various fees involved. However, in some situations, this is the best option.
Please note that the vendor of the property you're trying to acquire is the one required to take these actions as you are not yet the owner of the property.
Until next time, traverse well.
- Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at firstname.lastname@example.org or Precision Surveying Services.