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Friday Jan 05, 2018

Boundary wall dispute ends up in court

To promote good neighbourliness, disputes between neighbours should not end up in our country's courts.

This was the advice of an acting judge at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, which he gave in a judgment where he had to resolve problems between neighbours over a boundary wall.

Judge E van der Schyff said these disputes should rather be adjudicated by way of mediation. He said a harmonious relationship was indispensable if neighbours were to coexist in peace.

"Mediation is not only considerably cheaper than litigation, but it promotes reconciliation and often offers a speedy resolution to the disputes," he said.

In this case, a Muckleneuk, Pretoria, homeowner took his neighbour to court over a wall between their properties.

Iwan Vosloo told the court that the wall was damaged and could collapse at any moment. He felt that the wall was mostly on the side of his neighbour's home, Louis Cloete, and that the latter should repair it.

He claimed the wall posed a danger to him and his family as it was only a matter of time until the wall collapsed.

And as Cloete refused to take full responsibility for the wall, which posed no danger to Vosloo, he refused to either repair or replace it.

Vosloo meanwhile asked the court to order his neighbour to take all reasonable steps to prevent damage or harm to him, his family and property that could be caused by the collapse of the wall between their properties.

Vosloo said, in an affidavit, that Cloete's property was elevated above his property and, according to him, the wall provided support for Cloete's property.

He said his neighbour also used the wall as the foundation of the driveway which provided access to Cloete's property.

He said in recent years the wall has started to collapse in certain areas and cracked in others

Vosloo said the wall was beyond repair and in its present state so dangerous that one had to steer clear of it. He claimed that Cloete had a tree removed next to the wall, which made it even more unstable.

Vosloo appointed a surveyor, who established that the top position of the first portion of the wall was located in Cloete's property, and the second portion inside both their properties.

Vosloo was of the view that it was solely Cloete's responsibility to repair the wall at his own costs, as it is mostly on Cloete's side of the property and because Cloete uses it as part of his driveway.

Cloete, on the other hand, denied the wall posed a danger to Vosloo and his family as it was situated at the back of his neighbour's property where there are some old buildings and a lot of piled up trash.

He also denied that the wall was "continually collapsing" as claimed by Vosloo. He denied that he was using the wall on his side for any purpose.

Cloete said he, however, offered to have the wall repaired on the basis that they split the bill, but his neighbour did not respond. He admitted that when he moved in six years ago, he had a tree removed, but said it did not cause any damage to the wall.

The judge turned down the application as he found that the wall was a boundary wall and thus not only Cloete's responsibility.

Pretoria News

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