Know your property rights

Residents staging a protest.

Following several disrupted meetings between rival factions within the community, one opposing the project and the other supporting it, the project is now proceeding.

The faction opposing the project almost brought the new housing project to a violent stand-still. The faction claimed the high-rise low-cost residential flats would de-value their properties.

The opposing group also cited a potential increase in crime and general lawlessness in the area earmarked for the high-rise low-cost housing complex. The tense disagreement between the groups and the municipality finally subsided when the group of residents who supported the project, the local councillors, the Ekurhuleni MMC for housing, and the developers, stood their ground that the project would continue because of the dire housing shortage.

In the early hours of the morning, a small group aligned to the opposing group staged a violent protest which brought traffic in Vosloorus along Berry Marais Road to a stand-still. They burnt tyres, overturned concrete rubbish bins and scatter debris onto the roads, vandalised traffic lights and created chaos on the main routes leading in and out of the township.

Although no one was injured or killed during the protest, the action was to prove futile. Several weeks later, the first stages of the high-rise low-cost housing project are now at an advanced stage, and the protesters seemed to have lost the appetite.

But the question most Vosloorus residents ask is: Do property developers have a responsibility to communicate with the residents when they plan to develop a new residential area?

Real Estate expert Steve van Wyk of Seeff Estates told Kathorus MAIL:“Each property carries a particular zoning, and each municipal area adheres to specific by-laws to deal with the matter. It 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 arrangement. For instance, if the property is already zoned in such a way that the developer is permitted to build five more properties on a 95 per cent of the land surface, they will not be obliged to give any notice to homeowners,” Van Wyk explained.

“ 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 regulations,” added van Wyk.

According to Van Wyk, the regulations stipulate how the notice must be displayed, but it could also mean placing an advertisement to give notice to the residents so that they are given an opportunity to air their views on the proposed development.

The developer may also be required to inform the residents by a registered post, but this depends on the council’s rules. The objective of the notice is to provide an opportunity to canvass objections.

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 to embark on a development project for light industrial development, but not necessarily for residential development.

As a homeowner, you are entitled to take legal action by approaching the court to interdict the construction if there are genuine grounds for objections. 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, and not the benefit, of the community.

“The chances of success increase when more people from the community lodge objections, but there are still no guarantees,” explained Van Wyk.

  AUTHOR
Zaid Khumalo

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